(uvic.ca)

The B.C. provincial government has announced over $2 million worth of investments in post secondary institutions to offer supports amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an announcement on Wednesday, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training Melanie Mark stated that $1.5 million of this funding will be distributed equally among 20 institutions for the purpose of developing plans to support students with cognitive, mental health, or physical disabilities.

See also: $3.5M emergency fund created for post secondary students in B.C.

$275,000 of this investment will to BCcampus for the creation of online tools and resources for students, staff, and faculty to help them navigate the pandemic, through a website, videos and webinars on topics like adapting to online learning, building resilience, stress management, and understanding financial supports.

These webinars were first started in April 2020, and will continue regularly into 2021.

Further, $400,000 is being invested through BCcampus to create fully developed Open Educational Resource courses and support services for a broad range of the most popular courses.

Through this funding, the province is adding 25 more textbooks to their free Open Textbook collection for a total of 310 books on subjects like Math, Trades, Business, Design, and Cree Language.

“Especially in this time of COVID-19, tuition fees and the high cost of textbooks create barriers for students to be successful,” said Fillette Umulisa, Lansdowne campus executive, Camosun College Student Society.

“This support is critical to providing easier access to the necessary courses and programs students require to get their credentials, achieve their career goals and contribute positively to our economy and society.”

As of today, July 15, Mark also stated that applications for StudentAidBC—the financial aid program for students in the province—along with a new non-repayable BC Access Grant are now open.

Post secondary students who apply for StudentAid will automatically be assessed for the new grant, through which eligible students will receive up to $4,000 a year depending on the length of their program.

This is the first time that grants in B.C. will be available to part-time students and students in programs fewer than two years.