As the COVID-19 pandemic creates new challenges for students with courses moving online and jobs changing or disappearing, the BC government has announced a new one-time investment of $3.5 million in emergency funding specifically for students.
“We heard from students who are facing extremely difficult situations, and we're moving quickly to ensure they have access to immediate financial relief,” said Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training Melanie Mark in a BC government press release.
“Our government is taking steps to ensure post-secondary students get some emergency support so they can focus on staying healthy, meet their educational goals and finish their semester.”
This funding will go towards supporting domestic students who may have incurred unexpected financial difficulties that could impact the continuation of their studies. It will further allow students to pay for costs associated with living expenses, food, travel and computers they may need to complete their courses online.
Students who attend one of BC’s 25 post-secondary institutions, including UBC, will be able to access this funding through their school’s financial aid office. The post-secondary institutions will decide how much funding a student can receive based on their individual needs.
Student unions across BC have applauded the decision by the provincial government with the AMS tweeting in support.
The British Columbia Federation of Students (BCFS), which represents over 170,000 students at 15 universities, added that the emergency funding will be a great relief to students and their families during this “period of intense financial insecurity.”
“With layoffs, physical distancing, and classes suddenly being completed online, students and their families have a lot to worry about right now," said BCFS Chairperson Tanysha Klassen in a press release, noting that many students work precarious, low-wage jobs and have been subject to layoffs and uncertainty about summer job programs.
“Providing additional relief will go a long way to help those in need be able to stay focused on being successful in their studies.”