Art Students at Yale and Other Universities Are Demanding Tuition Refunds After Their Classes Were Moved Online

Students are making simliar calls at SVA, NYU, and other art schools.

Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.
Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

As schools across the country close their campuses for the semester and transition to online courses, many graduate art students are left wondering how they will continue their studies without the studio space, one-on-one critiques, exhibition opportunities, and other hands-on features that are a natural part of a contemporary art education. At some institutions, the question has turned to tuition.

More than 100 MFA students at the Yale School of Art in New Haven, Connecticut, are requesting that the university refund part of their semester tuition after the institution closed its studios and facilities yesterday, according to Artforum.  

“We are deeply troubled by the far-reaching repercussions of this event, which has tangible and unfathomable implications for our physical and mental health, financial security, professional careers, housing, and immigration status,” the Yale students wrote in a letter to school president Peter Salovey and Yale School of Art dean Marta Kuzma. “In light of these circumstances, we believe that financial reimbursement must play a part in the university’s forthcoming actions.”

A representative from Yale did not respond to a request for comment.

The Maryland Institute College of Art. Courtesy of MICA.

The Maryland Institute College of Art. Courtesy of MICA.

Yale’s art students aren’t the first to request tuition reimbursement in the face of studio and facility closures.

Last week, students at New York University’s Tisch School Of The Arts launched an online petition calling on the school’s dean, Allyson Green, to reverse her decision after she announced on March 18 that this semester’s tuition would not be refunded to any degree.

“By placing profits above the concerns, needs, and quality of education being received by NYU students,” the petition reads, “the dean ignores the fact that us art students will be paying full price for an education that lacks the facilities, equipment, technology, services, and hands-on experience we are explicitly paying for.”

The letter, which now counts more than 1,800 signatories, links to pages of testimonies from Tisch’s various departments in which students discuss the impact the closures have had on their education. Similar petitions have been created by students at the School of Visual Arts in New York and the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. 

The San Francisco Art Institute. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The San Francisco Art Institute. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Meanwhile, the San Francisco Art Institute will likely shutter for good this semester after failing to find a larger educational institution with which to partner. 

The school, which is no longer able to sustain itself financially, announced today that it anticipates a “precipitous decline in enrollment” and is “now considering the suspension of our regular courses and degree programs starting immediately after graduation in May of this year.”

The institute’s faculty and staff will be laid off at the end of the current semester, while the future for current students remains up in the air.

“At this time, it is unclear when instruction will resume, and in what form, pending our efforts to secure additional funding and potentially resume our talks with educational partners,” the school’s president, Gordon Knox, and board chair, Pam Rorke Levy, said in a statement.


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