Ontario promises $25M for post-secondary institutions and support to allow online exams

image.jpg

The Ontario government says it will be providing post-secondary institutions with $25 million in funding and support to allow year-end exams to take place online amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The province announced Monday that online learning support and the final exams will be available to postsecondary students and that an additional $25 million in funding for publicly-assisted colleges, universities and Indigenous institutes. 

"Our government is doing everything it can to ensure our college and university students can take their exams and complete their school year while studying remotely,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Tuesday.

The government said it has finalized an agreement with the not-for-profit eCampusOntario to make digital learning support available to universities. 

The digital learning support, available in both French and English, will provide publicly-assisted colleges and universities with technology to needed to conduct year-end assessments.

"Students can now conduct their examinations and be graded online, which will allow the continuity of academic success, the Minister of Colleges and Universities Ross Romano said at a news conferance Tuesday.

"If an institution was to go out and obtain this service on its own they would be spending anywhere from $30 to $50 per student, per hour, per examination. All of these costs would be borne by the institution independently and we are now able to cover those costs for the sector."

The government said the $25 million in funding is to help the institutions deal with some of the COVID-19-related costs, including carrying-out deep cleaning, purchasing medical supplies or offering mental health supports.

"These dollars are being invested directly into our institutions ... these dollars will be used by our institutions as they see fit to address concerns surrounding the COVID crisis," Ross said. 

The government also reminded residents they do not have to make any payments toward their Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loans during the pandemic. 

Ontario residents will have a six-month interest-free moratorium until Sept. 30, but people who would like to continue paying off the loan can also do so. 

"It is incumbent on us to do everything we can to ensure this academic year is not put in jeopardy," Ross said. 

"I want to thank our postsecondary institutions for their leadership in adopting alternative ways for students to study and take exams, while ensuring they practice physical distancing and stay safe."