July 21, 2020
Vancouver, BC – We know that the last few months have been uniquely challenging for graduate students. From disruptions to work routines and unexpected financial challenges, students have experienced dramatic changes in their education and lives. The GSS has been working harder than ever to ensure graduate students are not forgotten amidst the changes that we’ve all been experiencing. We have been working tirelessly with UBC campus partners to ensure graduate are afforded the necessary immediate financial and educational accommodations. In addition, we partnered with the Alliance of BC Students to speak with Minister Mark from the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training to ensure that the BC government hears from and supports students throughout this difficult time.
This week, we’re excited to see the Ministry announce several new funding initiatives that will provide increased support for students during this time.
The first is the new BC Access Grant, a non-repayable needs-based grant that will support more than 40,00 low- and middle-income students by providing up to $4,000 a year that would assist with the up-front cost of programs leading to a certificate, diploma, or degree.
Minister Mark also announced $2.175 million in dedicated funding to develop support for students with cognitive, mental health or physical disabilities.
Finally, the province announced an additional $675,000 for BCCampus to develop online resources to help post-secondary students address new mental health and wellbeing concerns that the pandemic has exacerbated, and to create open educational resources (OERs).
The GSS welcome these announcements and thanks the Ministry for its continued commitment to providing affordable access to education for British Columbians. In particular, UBC graduate students are excited to see funding and resources allocated for the new BC Access Grant and BCCampus, especially as these were issues that we raised in discussions with Minister Mark.
“We know that affordability is one of the main barriers in access to education. With the economic impact that the pandemic has had on British Columbians, a lot of students are worried about whether they have the means to support themselves during their studies” said Alireza Kamyabi. “This additional funding would help ensure the most vulnerable members of student community are supported”.
We look forward to continue working with the province and student societies so that students receive the support they need to alleviate the impact COVID-19 on the BC post-secondary community.
As many of you know we’ve just completed a survey about the effects of Covid-19 on students across UBC campus. Thanks to many hundreds of you who took the time to complete that survey. We’re in the process of analysing the results, which will help shape our advocacy over the next months. However, we always want to hear from you if you’re experiencing any challenges or issues that we may take up in our advocacy efforts. Feel free to reach out to us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Announcement from BC Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training : https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020AEST0038-001289