August 6, 2019 5:55 pm
Updated: August 6, 2019 7:00 pm

Alberta’s advanced education minister says Rutherford Scholarship now accepting applications

Demetrios Nicolaides, Minister of Advanced Education is sworn into office, in Edmonton on Tuesday April 30, 2019.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
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EDITOR’S NOTE: This article originally referred to Demetrios Nicolaides as Alberta’s education minister. It has since been corrected to say he is the province’s advanced education minister. We regret the error. 

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A day after an Alberta high school counsellor expressed concern about scholarship applications being delayed by a technological upgrade to the application and payment system, Alberta’s advanced education minister said Tuesday that “effective immediately, the Rutherford Scholarship is open and accepting applications.”

“Students and parents can rest assured that all eligible students will receive their awards on time and as normal without any delay or interruption,” Demetrios Nicolaides said in a news release issued Tuesday afternoon.

“I want to be clear: the Rutherford Scholarship should never have been affected by the technology upgrade. There was miscommunication within the department and when I found out, I took immediate steps to address the issue to ensure that this important service is available to students across Alberta.”

The NDP issued a news release that said the Rutherford Scholarship “should never have been affected by the IT change.”

“While we give credit to the minister for clearing up the confusion he created, he needs to do better next time,” said David Eggen, the NDP’s advanced education critic. “I am glad the minister listened to the calls from our caucus and from parents and students affected by this baffling oversight.

“We will continue to monitor this situation to ensure that students get access to the scholarship money they earned in full and on time.”

READ MORE: Rutherford Scholarship applications on hold, Alberta students left with financial uncertainty

Watch below: (From May 3, 2018) Millions of dollars in scholarships are up for grabs, but many Canadian students are missing out because they think they won’t make the grade. Laurel Gregory reports.

Because of the “major technology upgrade” to the province’s student aid system, scholarship applications were to be delayed until late fall.

On Monday, a statement on the Alberta Student Aid website said all 2019-20 scholarship and award applications would be available in late fall instead of early August, due to the province streamlining the application and payment process.

Laurie Chandler, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Advanced Education, said Monday that the technology upgrade began last year.

The Alexander Rutherford Scholarship is one of the most well-known scholarships in the province. It has been awarded to Alberta high school students carrying on to post-secondary for several decades.

“Students and parents no longer need to worry about application deadlines for the Rutherford Scholarship,” Nicolaides said. “(It) is open and students can apply normally and expect processing and payments to occur as usual.

“I am working closely with my department officials to ensure there are no further complications as the new IT system is rolled out.”

The Rutherford Scholarship was just one of dozens of scholarships that were on hold because of the technology upgrade. Nicolaides’ news release did not mention the status of any other scholarships.

The Alexander Rutherford Scholarship is named after Alberta’s first premier and minister of education.

–With files from Global News’ Karen Bartko

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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