Dear students of Lviv Polytechnic!
I receive emails asking me to continue or stop distance learning. This indicates that students are not indifferent to the quality of education. I assure you: the management and academic staff of Polytechnic also want to return to the usual mode of study as soon as possible.
However, the situation with the spread of coronavirus infection remains extremely threatening and unfavorable – the number of daily cases, according to statistics from the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, exceeded 10 thousand people, and we see a constant increase every week. In this situation, the Government, by its Resolution No. 1100 of 11.11.2020, introduced even stricter measures throughout the country and implemented «weekend quarantine» to avoid the collapse of the health care system.
After analyzing the letters that we have been receiving within two months, I must say – they contain radically different requirements and arguments: some want us to give up on distance learning, others – to continue, some people suggest immediately return students to the classroom, because they believe that distance learning does not provide the necessary quality of education, and others are strongly against returning to the University, because the risk of becoming infected with coronavirus in groups is extremely high, and the likelihood of infection of both students and their relatives is constantly increasing.
Given that the health and lives of students and academic staff of the University, as well as their families, are of the highest value, we decided to continue distance learning until December 31, 2020. We are ready to return to a mixed form of education when the situation with coronavirus infection is stabilized. Additionally, we are considering the possibility of conducting a two-week mixed study at the end of the semester for consultancy, laboratory and practical work that requires the use of technical equipment.
Regarding the quality of education, it should be noted that Deans’ Offices and Institute Departments have done a lot of work to get prepared for distance learning. Changes have been made to the study schedule, where students can now see the addresses of the videoconference rooms where classes take place. Some academics who needed advanced training in distance learning methods received specialized training. The Institute of Distance Learning, which accompanies the virtual learning environment, constantly monitors the system load and provides preventive maintenance.
We have also purchased new more powerful servers to ensure the operation of the virtual learning environment and will install them in the near future. The Department of Education Quality Management System Support of the University constantly analyzes the educational process and monitors online classes.
Next week, we will start surveying students on the quality of distance learning. So I ask you to take part in this survey.
This is a non-exhaustive list of all activities carried out by Lviv Polytechnic units at different levels to ensure quality distance learning. I am sure that if we join forces, we will be able to work together to improve the process of online learning and bring it to a level even better than in classroom learning.
Some students and their parents occasionally ask about the possibility of reducing tuition fees. The same questions were asked in the spring semester, when a resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine banned students from attending university. We analyzed and assessed the costs and risks of the University and found out that quarantine and distance learning do not bring the University financial savings. No lecturer or employee of the Polytechnic was fired due to the University’s transition to online learning. All University units, including dormitories, libraries, computer classes, sports facilities and others, as well as students, unions of students and postgraduates continue to operate, but subject to quarantine measures.
There are no restrictions on the participation of students in the discussion and resolution of organizational, educational and other issues related to students. On the contrary, we discuss all decisions regarding ending or extension of quarantine and online education, dormitory accommodation and other issues with University students.
In addition, I will tell about the legal aspects of changing the cost of training. According to the Law of Ukraine «On Higher Education» (part 7 of Article 73), a higher education institution has the right to change tuition fees in the manner prescribed by the contract, not more than once a year and not more than the officially determined inflation rate for the previous calendar year».
I assure you that we take into account all the suggestions and wishes while making decisions and understand that the main activity of the university is aimed at ensuring the educational process for students.
I wish health to all of you and your families. I hope for your understanding and support.
Rector of Lviv Polytechnic Yurii Bobalo