Work-study scrapped; needy students hurt

May 02, 2002, vol. 24, no. 1
By Christine Hearn

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Nearly 400 of SFU's most needy students will be affected each year by the cancellation of a highly successful 20-year-old work-study program. As well, the university will lose valuable research help.

Started in 1982 and funded by the provincial government, the program allows students to take jobs on campus in areas related to the subjects they are studying. A victim of cutbacks, it will end by August with an overall loss to SFU students of about $350,000 a year.

Participants in the program are those students considered to be in the highest financial need. They must already have a student loan and demonstrate a need for more help. The program allows them to earn up to $3,000 a year without the income counting against their loan.

The work they do in departments across campus is primarily research. At least 60 per cent of each job undertaken must be research-based. They are not allowed to do any work that is being done by bargaining units including CUPE or APSA.

“It's a significant loss to the university community, not just to the students,” says Rummana Khan Hemani, acting director, student academic resources. “It directly impacts the whole university because many of the projects the students work on have a ripple effect that benefit other faculty, staff, and other students. Now much of that research will fall by the wayside.”

Hemani says the program was a win-win for both students and the university. Students had the opportunity to get work experience and a hands-on sense of what their area of study is all about. And they were allowed to work flexible hours that fit in with their class schedules. In return, university departments and faculty got research assistance they might not otherwise have been able to afford.

Hemani says it is possible a replacement program will be developed, but she says there's been no word on that. “It's really sad, especially for the students,” she concludes.

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