The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on students from around the world. Many designated learning institutions (DLIs) offer their courses online in response to the health and travel constraints that are in place.
Post-secondary institutions, as well as prospective students, are looking into their approach to the fall semester. Both received clarification from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada on eligibility for this fall’s Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP) for students starting at an eligible DLI.
PGWPP eligibility will not be affected by international students whose COVID-19 course in the fall of 2020 will be available online. This is consistent with guidance given to students who are already studying in Canada or have a spring or summer start date for their programme.
New Flexible Post-Grad Work Rules
Under these circumstances, the Government of Canada has announced rules for “flexible” postgraduate work permits for international students studying at a distance, while individual universities have launched millions of dollars in funding funds to aid students struggling financially in response to Covid-19.
Postgraduate work permit program limits the opportunity of an international student to follow a distance learning program. It deducts time spent outside of Canada from the length of the work permit.
The government has announced that international students studying distance learning courses through Covid-19 in the fall of 2020 will be able to complete up to 50 per cent of their curriculum overseas if they cannot come to Canada earlier in 2020. Time, it added, would not be excluded from future postgraduate licences.
Columbia College has announced it has mobilized over CAD$1 million to support international students, including newcomers and refugees to Canada, to keep developing academic careers through the pandemic, to help students who are struggling financially as a response to Covid-19.
Students who are unable to qualify for government financial assistance, such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, will be eligible for the Columbia Student Emergency Support Program which can be used for the general cost of living, food, and books.
Columbia students will also be able to take advantage of 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. The latter will continue their education in the fall.
Algonquin College will open applications for its recently announced $1 m Covid-19 Emergency Student Fund, president and CEO Claude Brulé. A spokesperson told the News, “Few students also have access to funding for financial assistance, but most of them have been able to seek CERB funding and funding from the provincial government where their jobs were affected by Covid-19”.
“Many foreign Camosun students expressed their appreciation for the financial help they received through the various Federal / Provincial and College channels and expressed their opinion that they made the right choice to study in Canada.
Other institutions such as Centennial College and Fraser Valley University have raised funds for struggling students. Via grants from community groups, businesses and corporate sponsors, Douglas College in British Columbia also aims to increase its emergency funds to $1 million.
Humber College in Toronto has helped more than 2,300 students, distributing more than $1.2 million in emergency funds. “The SOS Fund for Covid-19 will offer financial assistance to students facing urgent need at this moment,” said Chris Whitaker, President of Humber.