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Students to sue Moscow State University over switch to online learning

Source: Kommersant

Tuition-paying students at Moscow State University (MGU) have prepared a class action lawsuit demanding a recalculation of two semesters worth of fees due to the transition to distance learning during the coronavirus pandemic, Kommersant reports. 

Though they ought to be receiving a full-time education, the distance learning format has “at times reduced” the quality of education, the students argue in the lawsuit.

They also note obstacles such as the inability to use the library, conduct hands-on and laboratory work in full, as well as lack of access to equipment and technical failures during online lectures.

The students are asking the court to oblige MGU to grant them a partial refund for the 2019–2020 spring semester and the 2020–2021 fall semester; abolish dormitory fees for those who left residence for the duration of distance learning; and recalculate the cost of living in residence during the spring of 2020.

There is no specific amount of money stated in the lawsuit, the lawyer representing the 21 students who signed the lawsuit said that the plaintiffs would like to involve an appraiser. According to the lawyer, the students already sent a request for a fee recalculation to MGU Rector Viktor Sadovnichy, but he never responded.

Moscow State University maintains that distance learning is “a type of full-time educational process,” reports the Russian state news agency TASS. 

According to the university, it took “exhaustive measures” to fulfill requirements during the coronavirus pandemic and at the same time “preserve the continuity of the educational process” and its compliance with “approved standards and programs.”

On November 11, 2020, Russia’s Education Ministry issued an order to its subordinate universities in Moscow and St. Petersburg, mandating them to switch to distance learning exclusively until February 6, 2021. Russian universities also switched to remote learning during the coronavirus lockdown in the spring of 2020. These restrictions were partially lifted over the summer. 

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