Work Study program to restart remotely in the fall

University gives students enrolled in the program financial reimbursement

Work Study positions for 2020-21 will be posted in MyCareer starting on Aug. 12.

Following sudden cancellations in the recent winter term, the University is reviewing details for the fall term Work Study program.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Career Services asked offices not to schedule shifts for non-essential work study students as of March 20 at 4:00 p.m. Though the program was also cancelled for the 2020 summer term, it’s scheduled to restart in the fall.

“The Work Study program was reviewed to confirm that it would be successful for students and employers in the current work environment and we quickly determined that it could and would continue to provide students and employers with meaningful work and valuable experiential learning experiences,” Teresa Alm, associate university registrar, wrote in a statement to The Journal

The program provides part-time work opportunities to eligible students during a specified period of study. The Student Awards Office determines eligibility based on financial need, and students in the program earn $14.60 an hour.

READ MORE: Queen’s Rector & Undergraduate Trustee advocate for lower tuition in fall term

According to Alm, the University expects most fall work study positions to be remote, so students will be able to access them from wherever they’re living for the semester. Some on-campus, in-person positions may also be available if public health and University requirements allow them to continue.

Available 2020-21 positions will be posted in MyCareer starting on Aug. 12, including roles that may involve project coordination, communication support, and administrative support.

“Supports will continue to be available for work-study employers and students to assist them in thriving in the remote work environment,” Alm said.

These supports include additional Career Services workshops about remote working.

The University redefined the funds students would have earned in the summer Work Study program as a wage subsidy for immediate COVID-19-related bursary assistance. 

Usually, $110,000 is distributed to students in the summer program, and the University has disbursed about $3.1 million to students for COVID-19-related emergency bursary assistance, according to Alm.

READ MORE: While tuition unaltered, Queen’s reduces summer student fees

Students who participated in the 2019-20 program were given 25 per cent—the equivalent of what would be earned in March and April—of their year-long entitlement. Student Awards distributed the funds directly to students as bursary assistance, as opposed to employment income.

This number resulted in $500 for Canadian citizens/permanent residents and $750 for international students. According to Alm, the funds amounted to “a bit more” than students would have earned had the term ended normally.

Larissa Zhong, ArtSci ’22, worked as the receptionist and administrative assistant at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering from October 2019 until the program’s cancellation in March. Overall, she was satisfied with the University’s handling of the situation.

“I overall had a really good experience, I have no complaints,” Zhong said in an interview with The Journal. “Everyone at my work study position was really nice and understanding.”

When the University announced campus closures on March 13, Zhong contacted her supervisor to ask if she still had shifts scheduled for the following week. She was told the office she worked for was closed and that she would be told when she next had available shifts.

Zhong received an email from the Student Awards Office a week later informing her that her position had been cut short.

“In terms of the work study response, I think a week was pretty fair, especially given how sudden everything was,” she said. “It was an unprecedented situation, and there was a lot of turbulence. So, I thought they handled it pretty well, and I thought the reimbursement amount was really fair.”

Zhong also told The Journal she was “super uncertain” about what would happen in the upcoming fall term following conversations she had with her supervisor about the possibility of returning to her position.

“I don’t think they’re hiring work study students because there’s no point if the staff are working from home,” she said.

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