A recent announcement by the Province of Manitoba about more funding to a bursary program for post-secondary students is a step in the right direction, but more support is needed to help students get through the COVID-19 pandemic, says the university’s student president.
Premier Brian Pallister said Wednesday that the province would temporarily increase funding to the Manitoba Scholarship and Bursary Initiative (MSBI) for the 2020-21 school year.
“We want to make sure that we’re taking steps to lessen the burden on our post-secondary institutions during this pandemic and at the same time we want to make sure that the scholarships and bursaries are available to those who need them at the time they need them,” he said.
While that commitment is appreciated, it’s not enough, says University of Manitoba Students’ Union (UMSU) president Jelynn Dela Cruz.
“I do believe we need to put pressure on the province for the institutional cuts from year to year that go to post-secondary education and really do hollow out the experience that students get,” Dela Cruz told 680 CJOB.
“We’re talking about marginalized students or students who are facing hardships during this time — whether it’s from job insecurity or just uncertainty and personal circumstances in the online shift — all of these things from technology to ensuring that students have access to affordable, accessible healthcare
“Post-secondary education and supporting students should never just be an option to the province, it should be a priority.”
Dela Cruz said UMSU has seen an influx of questions and concerns from worried students who are struggling to keep up with their courses while navigating the new reality of life during a pandemic.
“Supporting post-secondary education — no matter what time of the year it is, no matter whether or not we’re in a global pandemic — needs to be the reality,” she said.
“Otherwise students will feel like they’re getting lost in all of the conversations that are being had.”