All graduate students have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic or related measures. Based on reports from students, the impact has been uneven. Many students have experienced disruptions to their programs, their research, their families and to their physical and mental health. These disruptions range from the easily mitigated to those requiring additional time, resources and support. In some cases, the support required may be significant.
Given limited resources, and especially that the Faculty of Arts & Science must be prepared for the possibility that it will need to respond to the ongoing and unforeseen consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in the months, and perhaps years, to come, the Faculty will be targeting assistance to those most in need. This allows us to tailor assistance to the unique circumstances that have arisen based on the nature of students’ programs, research and personal circumstances.
In conjunction with the School of Graduate Studies, the Faculty of Arts & Science is providing a suite of programs to respond to student needs now and in the future. These programs, which will be administered at the graduate unit level, may evolve or expand as the situation resulting from COVID-19 requires. The programs range from the simple, such as bursaries to respond to urgent need, to more complex mechanisms to help students who are experiencing delays, have lost research or need to make dramatic changes to their research plans.
A&S Graduate Student Emergency Bursary
The Graduate Student Emergency Bursary was established in March 2020, to provide short term financial assistance to meet urgent needs. Bursaries ranging from under $100 to $2,000 were provided to assist with expenses ranging from groceries to book purchases, internet upgrades and home office equipment. Bursaries will continue to be available to students through their graduate units.
A&S COVID-19 Research Pivot Award
Students whose research has been derailed by COVID-19 to the point that they require financial assistance to resume or redevelop the research that was originally in progress may apply for an A&S COVID-19 Research Pivot Award. The award is intended to assist the student with out-of-pocket expenses resulting from the need to resume research or start over with a different research plan.
A&S COVID-19 Program Completion Award
COVID-19 will invariably delay some students who will not be able to complete their programs as originally planned. The Program Completion Award is intended to provide direct income support to students who need the extra time as a result of COVID-19 related delays to academic progress. Determination of eligibility and the award amounts will be at the discretion of graduate units. It is expected that the A&S COVID-19 Program Completion Award will complement tuition relief provided through SGS, as well as other traditional forms of graduate support such as TA and RA income and direct support from graduate units and supervisors.
SGS Tuition Fee Exemption
Students outside the funded cohort whose research has been disrupted due to COVID-19 may request an exemption from tuition for one session. Such relief may be sought in the coming academic year or, for students who are currently funded, upon exiting the funded cohort in a future year. Students must meet the criteria for the exemption and receive approval from their Supervisor and Department to receive a Tuition Fee Exemption.
Many students have documented the disruptions they have experienced in their COVID-19 Mentoring Meeting Records. This documentation will be helpful for students who may require a Tuition Fee Exemption in future years for disruptions experienced in 2020. The online COVID-19 Mentoring Meeting Record system is still live for students who wish to submit a report.