Can University Students Get a Tuition Refund for Online Classes?

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Many CEGEPs and universities have announced that most courses will take place online for the Fall semester because of COVID-19. Many students think that online courses won’t be as high quality as courses in the classroom. Do students have a right to a refund on part of their tuition?

Students are not “customers” or “consumers” of education

Students don’t have a right to a refund on part of their tuition fees even if they think the quality of online courses is inferior to courses in the classroom.

Courses, training, and social activities offered by CEGEPs and universities are excluded from the Consumer Protection Act. Because CEGEPs and universities are not considered businesses, students are not customers or consumers of education. Students can’t get a refund if they consider that the quality of the teaching isn’t good enough, unlike a consumer who may have taken a dance, language, or first aid training class, for example.

If the semester is cancelled and students don’t receive the credits they paid for though, the situation could be different.

No tuition discount

CEGEP and university tuition fees are established by the government, so only the government can decide to adjust the amount. Universities generally don’t decide the tuition they bill to students.

However, when it comes to “ancillary fees” (also called “compulsory fees”), CEGEPs and universities have leeway. These fees provide students with certain services, such as access to gyms, computer labs, and tech support.

Students will not be on campus to use these services in the Fall. Will universities choose to reduce ancillary fees? To find out, stay tuned to news from your university!