MONTREAL -- While university courses are continuing online, some schools are offering extra financial assistance to students vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic who are thinking of dropping out.

The Universite de Quebec a Montreal announced on Friday the creation of an emergency assistance fund with an initial amount of $300,000.

The fund is dedicated to students whose financial situation jeopardizes their studies.

The temporary aid is intended for full-time students, particularly those who are parents or who do not benefit from loans and grants.

Several UQAM unions and associations have contributed to the fund, which must only be used for “immediate and basic necessities,” such as food, medical expenses or Internet connections required for online courses.

The amount allocated will be assessed “on the basis of each person's needs and responsibilities,” according to the administration, who called for donations to the fund.

The Universite du Quebec a Rimouski, which already announced it would consider courses completed if an evaluation had already taken place, has raised more than $436,000 for its own emergency fund.


Petitions have circulated calling for other universities to follow UQAR's example, saying overhauled courses are taking place in a high-anxiety context for many students who are dealing with their kids at home, weakened mental health, layoffs and demanding jobs in essential services.

The University of Laval launched its own emergency fund last week, dedicated to students “with a current budget deficit preventing them from meeting their basic needs and who find themselves temporarily in a situation where it's no longer possible to further reduce expenses.”

Up to $1,500 is being allocated on a case-by-case basis.

According to the university's website, $500,000 had been raised as of April 1, with nearly $200,000 distributed.

Concordia University called on donors last week to help create a $500,000 emergency fund for students whose immediate and necesary financial needs cannot be met because of the pandemic. Students can begin submitting online applications on Monday.

McGill University is also inviting students with immediate financial concerns “related to travel or living expenses” to submit a request to their financial aid department.