Rector gears bursary toward COVID-19 relief

Bursary available to students facing financial difficulties, emergency expenses

Queen’s Rector, Sam Hiemstra, wants to help students facing financial difficulties because of the pandemic. 
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

As COVID-19 continues to disrupt summer opportunities for students across the University, the Rector is providing additional financial aid through a bursary.

At a meeting with the Board of Trustees on May 8, Queen’s Rector Sam Hiemstra announced he will gear the Rector’s Bursary towards students with financial difficulties related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dispersed by the Rector and in consultation with Student Awards in the Office of the University Registrar, the Rector’s Bursary is awarded a few times per year based on demonstrated financial need to students with emergency expenses. 

“The current pandemic is making it difficult for a lot of students in varying circumstances,” Hiemstra said in an interview with The Journal. “[T]he more we can get the information out there, hopefully more people will be contacting the office, and [then] we can help students who haven’t already been helped by other resources on campus.” 

Hiemstra is hoping to help students who are facing housing insecurity, food insecurity, reduced OSAP funding, or other financial difficulties that may arise as it becomes increasingly difficult to find summer work.  

He also acknowledged that there may be international students in need of financial help, as some individuals are stranded in Canada trying to either get home or fund their extended stay.

At the Board of Trustees meeting, Hiemstra also mentioned that, along with former Rector Alexandra da Silva, he would seek to allocate the funds remaining in the 2019-20 rector operating budget to the bursary. However, Hiemstra later told The Journal in a written statement that the bursary was “unable to acquire” this money.

“My focus has shifted now towards creating resources for students looking for financial aid in the case that I’m unable to help a student [with the bursary],” Hiemstra wrote.

The Rector oversees fundraising for the bursary because it’s largely funded through donations from alumni and other parties. 

When The Journal inquired about the total amount of money available in the bursary, Hiemstra did not disclose the total. 

There is no set list of requirements or circumstances for the bursary, nor is there a set amount of money aimed to be dispersed, according to Hiemstra. Rather, it’s distributed on a need-by-need basis.

Any student—undergraduate, graduate, or professional—is eligible for the bursary through an application process conducted by the Office of the Rector. After individuals email the Rector explaining their circumstances, there will be a discussion reviewing the application to determine if funds will be set aside. 

“I think students who are demonstrating need should be looked after,” Hiemstra said. “Finance should never be something students have to worry about when it comes to their education.”

Though the bursary is geared toward COVID-19 this year, Hiemstra said it won’t prevent students with non-pandemic related issues from gaining financial help from the Rector. 

“[R]ight now, the pandemic is at the front of mind for everyone. But it’s also just a way to highlight a lot of other problems and gaps that we have in our current systems,” Hiemstra said. “So the bursary, I think, now more than ever, is important to get out there.”

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