Under usual circumstances, the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program limits an international student’s ability to pursue a distance learning program and deducts time spent outside Canada from the length of the work permit.
The government has announced that international students studying fall 2020 courses via distance learning due to Covid-19 may complete up to 50% of their program overseas if they cannot travel to Canada sooner in 2020. Time will not be deducted from future post-graduate permits, it added.
To help students who are struggling financially as a response to Covid-19, Columbia College has announced it has mobilised over CAD$1 million to support international students, including newcomers and refugees to Canada, continue to build academic careers through the pandemic.
Students unable to qualify for government financial aid, such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, will be eligible for Columbia’s Student Emergency Support Program that can be used for general living costs, food and books.
International students in the country have been unable to benefit from other government funding initiatives.
Students at Columbia will also be able to benefit from a Laptop Assistance Program to get the technology they require to participate effectively in online education, as well as tuition discounts for those qualifying for the Advanced Payment Incentive program who will continue their education in the fall.
It has also implemented a tuition freeze and a Tuition Instalment Plan allowing flexible payment.
Algonquin College will open applications for its $1m Covid-19 Emergency Student Fund, president and CEO Claude Brulé announced recently.
As of May 8, approximately 275 international students had received an emergency bursary from Camosun College. The institution has disbursed $209,700 to students in urgent, including to 591 domestic students.
“Some students are still accessing the funds for financial support however most have been able to receive CERB funds as well as funds from the provincial government where their employment was impacted due to Covid-19,” a spokesperson told The PIE News.
A recent survey found that 88% of 1,484 students at Camosun felt they are being supported by the college through the crisis.
“Many Camosun international students have expressed thanks for the financial support they have received through the various Federal/Provincial and college channels and said it contributes to their opinion that they made the right choice in choosing to study in Canada,” the spokesperson added.
Other institutions such as Centennial College and University of Fraser Valley have been raising funds for struggling students. Douglas College in British Columbia is also seeking to increase its emergency funding to $1 million through donations from community partners, contractors and corporate donors.
“The response so far from members of the College community has been remarkable”
Humber College in Toronto has helped more than 2,300 students, distributing more than $1.2 million in emergency funds.
Its Student Union – IGNITE – recently donated an additional $250,000 to help students during the pandemic.
“The Covid-19 SOS Fund will provide financial assistance to students experiencing urgent need at this time,” Humber’s president Chris Whitaker said.
“The response so far from members of the College community has been remarkable, and we know that more will be needed in the coming weeks and months so that we can continue to help as many students as possible.”
I echo the sentiment that it “contributes to their (international students’) opinion that they made the right choice in choosing to study in Canada.” Most international students make ends meet by doing what we immigrants call “cash jobs”, working for less than minimum prescribed hourly wage. COVID has effectively closed even that earning stream for them. As someone who is interested in the well being of international students, I am happy to note that many Canadian universities and colleges have started supporting these students. Be it be in cash or kind, it is a very welcome sign.