AU Emergency Relief Fund: thank you donors!
The harsh reality of the COVID-19 pandemic has increased financial pressures for many AU learners, with some even having to choose between basic necessities and their education.
In response, AU created an Emergency Relief Fund for learners who were coping with an urgent financial need.
AU has been able to distribute 444 $1,000 emergency bursaries to support learners since June 2020, thanks to many generous supporters: the Athabasca University Students’ Union (AUSU), the Athabasca University Graduate Students’ Association (AUGSA), the Canadian Union of Public Employees local 3911 (representing tutors and academic experts), our generous donor community, and some internal AU funds.
Many AU learners expressed their gratitude, thanking donors for the support that enabled them to continue their studies while also paying for things like childcare, rent, and pursuing new career paths.
To help show their appreciation, several bursary recipients filled out signs with messages explaining how the donation helped them. Messages included, “Because of you, I could complete my courses with less stress about rent, formula, and childcare. I can also be home with my daughter more. Thank you!”
Deputy Provost Anne-Marie Scott announced that in response to the long-term impact of the pandemic, AU has increased the funding for student awards and bursaries for the next year.
“We understand that the pandemic is placing increasing pressures on our learners the longer it continues and hope this round of bursaries supports our learners to achieve their goals. Recognizing that the impact of the pandemic will continue for some time, we are also increasing the funding for student awards and bursaries by $1 million for the next year.”– Anne-Marie Scott, deputy provost, academic operations
The additional funding for student awards and bursaries will allow AU to support even more learners in need. Emphasizing the impact these bursaries have on the lives of learners, one recipient said, “Because of you, I could pursue a new career,” and another said, “Because of you, I could continue school this semester.”
Representatives from AUGSA and AUSU wanted to share a few words and emphasize the importance of supporting learners with these emergency bursaries.
“AUGSA is thrilled to contribute to the ongoing efforts to help students during this pandemic and wishes to acknowledge and celebrate the collaborative efforts of the University and student associations in making these funds a reality,” said AUGSA Past President Mary-Anne Parker. “Our hearts go out to those in need of these funds and hope that the situation improves for us all.”
“AUSU’s council has been passionate about supporting as many students as possible, especially during this pandemic. Opportunities to invest in bursaries like this see that students in need can access critical resources to continue their studies,” said AUSU President Stacey Hutchings. “We are proud to have partnered with AUGSA, AU, and other donors to provide students with the support they need to ensure they can continue to work towards their academic goals.”
Thanks to our generous donor community, a staggering 444 learners have been given financial assistance needed to provide for their families and continue their studies.
“Supporting our learners has always been top priority for AU. We know that over the past year especially, learners have faced financial and other barriers to continuing their educational journey, which is why we’re so pleased to be able to provide these bursaries,” said Dr. Matthew Prineas, provost and vice-president academic.