Date: Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Subject: Fall semester
Dear Faculty, Students and Staff,
In a recent University Council meeting which includes elected representatives of faculty, students and staff, it was unanimously decided to learn and teach online for the Fall, 2020 semester. This decision was reached after extensive discussion and deliberation within each of the Schools. Health and safety concerns led to the consensus that the University must opt for online instruction during the fall, although there is no decision yet about Spring, 2021. We will continuously monitor the situation as it unfolds over the Fall semester as we learn more about the spread of COVID-19 and how health and safety issues can be mitigated by slowly and partially opening the campus.
As almost all instruction will be online, the University will not be applying the 13% increase in the tuition fee for Fall of 2020. In other words there will be a 0% increase in tuition for the fall semester. A more detailed note on the fee structure and tuition will follow.
We are also looking carefully at student feedback received from course evaluations conducted this spring. Not surprisingly, overall student satisfaction scores have somewhat decreased compared to pre-COVID conditions. For example, average instructor ratings decreased from 4.31 to 4.07 and students have given good suggestions on how instruction can be improved to better support their learning. It is encouraging that already faculty have enrolled in 3-day online skills training which are being offered several times during the summer. These skills focus on using Zoom more effectively, reworking assessments to reduce student workload without sacrificing quality, and engaging students more actively in their learning.
The Interim Provost is overseeing the preparations for the Fall semester by working with two committees that include members from Faculty, Staff and Students as well as outside experts where necessary. The two working groups are:
Teaching and Class Scheduling. Chaired by Dr. M. Faryad (HOD, Physics), the working group is the continuation of the Pedagogical-Technology Committee formed in the Spring semester. This Group will receive input from the Learning Institute, the Registrar’s Office, Office of Program Enhancement, and Information Systems Technology. The working group will oversee synchronous/asynchronous course recommendations, and the scheduling of classes, labs, assessments and evaluations. Exact dates of orientation week, when classes will start, etc. will be recommended by the committee. The committee will also work with IST to address connectivity issues for students (especially incoming first year students), faculty and staff.
Health and Safety. Continuation of the current university health and safety committee, the new working group is headed by Dr. Ali Khan (Dean MGSHSS). It consists of faculty members, senior administrative colleagues, students and health experts. The working group will provide guidance on a layered health strategy for the upcoming Fall semester and will aim to provide support and care to limit the spread of the virus in our community. The strategy will include recommendations regarding working on campus and phased openings, creating safety protocols such as general hygiene standards, wearing masks, social distancing, handwashing, etc.
In summary, LUMS is committed to improve the online experience and we are learning important lessons from student feedback received to date. All faculty and staff are committed to improve access and the quality of online learning and teaching experiences this fall. The existence of quality online courses will provide more flexible alternatives when students return to campus as they will be able to experience the best of both worlds.
We will continue to provide updates and thank you for your patience and understanding.
Regards and best wishes,
Dr. Arshad Ahmad, Vice Chancellor
Dr. Kamran Asdar Ali, Interim Provost