HSE University postponed the return to on-site learning to March 29. In many ways, this decision was due to the opinion of students who did not support the return to offline classes in February.
At the beginning of the third module, the student councils of several faculties conducted surveys among students to find out their opinions about learning formats.
1,317 students of HSE Faculty of Computer Science took part in the student survey council, and only 27.4% of them supported returning to on-site learning in February. 29.4% of them wanted to return to on-site classes after the third module, and 43.2% said they would prefer to study remotely until the end of the year. After analyzing the survey results, the student council recommended switching to a hybrid format after the current module.
The students of the Faculty of Economic Sciences voted almost unanimously to maintain online learning in the third module. ‘The results of the survey show that it will be acceptable for them to study remotely for some time,’ states the student council page.
1,167 students took part in the student council survey at the Faculty of Law. More than half of them do not want the remote format to end. In the ‘Other’ option, most students mentioned that it would be optimal to keep the remote format for lectures, and to return to on-site classes for seminars. 58% of students supported switching to a hybrid format at the beginning of the 3rd module exams, and 29.8% of students said they would prefer to study on-site beginning February 8.
Surveys conducted at other HSE campuses yielded similar results. The student council of HSE University – Perm believes that students and teachers are not ready to return to campus now. ‘While talking to the campus administration, we recommended switching to a hybrid format no earlier than the start of spring exams, and also, if possible, to refrain from conducting on-site graduation exams for bachelor's and master's students, since they do not have classes in the fourth module, and the on-site exams will mean that they will have to come to Perm for a couple of days, and then go back,’ says Timofey Pribylev, chair of the Perm Student Council.
‘It is obvious that many students, especially from regions far from St. Petersburg, will not be able to return to the city in a week without great expense,’ said members of the Student Council who were sure that the transport costs in this case would be cumbersome. In addition, COVID-19 cases may increase again in early spring, so a sharp return to in-person classes may be premature,’ said Yaroslav Yasko, chair of the Student Council at HSE – St. Petersburg.
‘The decision to return to on-site learning at the beginning of the third module exams was made after discussion with the deans and representatives of the student councils. In some cases, student councils conducted student surveys.
As a result of the discussion, more than half of the deans have determined that the preferred time to return to on-site classes would be at the beginning of the third module exams.
Most of the divisions, except for three of them, notified us that their student councils agreed with this decision. At the same time, in one of the three cases, the student council insisted on returning to on-site classes in February. The other two preferred to do so in the 4th module.’
‘Obviously, we are in a situation of finding a balance between wanting to return to on-site classes and wanting to avoid the risks that will inevitably appear in this regard. At the Faculty of Social Sciences, we asked our teachers and academic supervisors about it, and the student council helped to collect student feedback on this issue. Opinions were divided.
Some of our colleagues are ready to reorganize work in the near future and return some of classes to in-person format. But it is more about particular classes for small groups. The opinion of the majority of the respondents is that it makes sense to postpone the return to on-site classes until the spring: we hope that the vaccination campaign will gain momentum by then, and students from other cities will have time to return to Moscow.
Some of the respondents wanted to stay online until the end of the academic year. This, in a certain sense, is safer for everyone and relevant for programmes that can’t be implemented in person — many international students are not in Russia now.
There will be no total and complete return to on-site learning, and that's a good thing. Thanks to online learning, we managed to find promising educational projects: in particular, we have already started or have been preparing for the implementation of new inter-campus courses and minors. We hope that these initiatives are here for good.’