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New financial supports announced for post-secondary students

The new B.C. Access Grant is available to post-secondary students. The B.C. Government said the grant will expand open education resources, provide online support to students through BCcampus, and provide new funding for students with disabilities.

Any students that applies through StudentAidBC, which is now open, will be automatically assessed for the new B.C. Access Grant.

“Whether you’re a high school grad, a current student or are returning for new skills and training, these new government supports mean the doors are wide open for you to get a post-secondary credential and pursue your dreams,” said Melanie Mark, B.C. Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “Our investments in post-secondary education empowers students and helps communities get back on their feet and be part of B.C.’s economic recovery.”

The B.C. Access Grant was first announced as part of the 2020 budget. The B.C. Government said the grant will enable over 40,000 low-income and middle-income students, by providing up to $4,000 a year to help with up-front costs of post-secondary programs.

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Alongside the launch of the B.C. Access Grant, Mark said nearly $2.2-million in new investments are being made. The funding includes $1.5-million to be divided between 20 public post-secondary institutions throughout British Columbia. That money will be used specifically for the development or improvement of student supports for those with physical, cognitive or mental health disabilities.

$275,000 is also being provided to BCcampus for online resources and tools. The B.C. Government said the resources would include a website, as well as videos and webinars on several topics including online learning, stress management, understanding financial supports, and more. Webinars through BCcampus first began in April 2020 and will run regularly in 2021.

“We are so glad to have such good support from government to help ensure the post-secondary students, faculty and staff of B.C. have what they need to do their best work,” said Mary Burgess, Executive Director of BCcampus. “The B.C. Post-Secondary System Collaboration on Open Online Courses is a positive sign of our ability, as a system, to think holistically about the open resources we have. It’s an opportunity to pool our talents with the open-focused educators across the province to collaborate on curriculum development and build on the open ecosystem we’ve been working so hard on for so many years.”

Back in 2019, $3-million was announced for new open education resources (OER). This fall, students and faculty can expect some new OER benefits as more than 310 textbooks, supplementary manuals and guides are now available for free through B.C.’s Open Textbook collection. The B.C. Government said students were calling for the free materials to be developed as part of the 2019 funding announcement.

$400,000 is also being invested by the B.C. Government to develop full OER courses and support services through BCcampus.

“This work will better support educators with an expanded choice of free textbooks and more supports for online course delivery, benefiting both faculty and students,” said the Province. “As more subjects are identified, additional OER will be developed.”

“Now more than ever students and their families need help to afford the education they need to enter the workforce,” said Tanysha Klassen, Chairperson of the B.C. Federation of Students. “The B.C. Access Grant will help students access not only four-year programs, but certificate and diploma programs that are key for the health of our economy.”

MORE: B.C. Access Grant (B.C. Government)

MORE: Open Education Resources (BCcampus)

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