UVic raises Work Study wages, cuts hours

Campus News

UVic’s Work Study program, which provides campus work experience for students requiring financial assistance, is seeing an increase to its pay rate for the first time in over a decade. But the increase means fewer Work Study hours will be available to students.

In response to the B.C. government’s recent minimum wage increase to $10.25, Student Awards and Financial Aid (SAFA), which funds the Work Study program, increased the hourly wage from $10 to $11 while decreasing the maximum number of hours allowed per year for each position funded through Work Study. 

“Over the years we have been asked by students, who believe the salary wasn’t competitive enough, to increase the Work Study wage to above minimum,” says Lori Nolt, Director of SAFA.

SAFA’s budget for the program has been $695 000 since 2010. This budget allowed 69 500 hours of work at the previous $10 per hour salary. That funding amount remains the same at the new salary rate, decreasing the number of hours to 63 181. SAFA can approve between 25 to 340 hours per position.

Many UVic groups and departments offer Work Study positions, often relying on them in order to operate during the school year. Student groups offering Work Study-funded jobs include CFUV Radio 101.9 FM, the Society for Students with a Disability and the Emergency Food Bank. Among those offering the most Work Study positions on campus are Athletics and Recreational Services, Child Care Services, and the Theatre, History and Psychology departments. 

Four hundred and twelve positions were approved and posted on the Work Study program website on Sept. 5.

From September to April of the 2011-2012 school year, 444 positions were posted in total, but Nolt says that number includes re-posted positions, as some students left their jobs midway through the school year. 

Nolt also explains that the number of Work Study jobs approved depends on the number of jobs requested by supervisors on campus. Among the positions approved, supervisors can choose to split a position into two or more jobs. 

“The cut in hours does not mean fewer students can participate,” says Nolt. “Although there are fewer positions than last year, the number of opportunities may be the same because of the way supervisors can choose to job-share.” 

CFUV station manager Randy Gelling commends UVic for raising the salary, but is disappointed with the cut in hours. 

“It’s going to make the positions a lot less effective for us,” says Gelling, a former UVic Work Study student. “For one position, for example, we used to get 180 hours, and now it’s 120 hours. It sounds like a percentage, but 180 wasn’t even enough.” 

Gelling says SAFA approved the same number of positions CFUV applies for every year. But he may have to ask some Work Study students to take more vacation time, otherwise the positions could run out of hours by December or January. 

When applying to SAFA, Work Study supervisors rank their proposed positions according to which positions require the most funding, aiding in SAFA’s decision on which positions to approve. SAFA also looks at the applying group’s historical usage of hours to determine how many hours the group will get. For example, if a department applies for 1020 hours, but only used 580 in the previous year, they may likely receive only 580 hours. 

Since jobs were only recently posted, Nolt says it’s too early to tell how the changes will affect Work Study students. 

“At the end of April, we’ll know how many were hired and how much they earned. We’ll be in a better position to see the impact of this change at the end of the year,” says Nolt.

Jack Lalonde, Manager of Child Care Services, says he can’t predict how the decrease in Work Study hours will affect his department, but he doesn’t anticipate any issues.

“We still got approved to hire the 16 students we need, and we need these positions more than we need more hours,” says Lalonde. “That being said, we haven’t hired any students yet, so I don’t know if [the changes] are going to impact whether or not people will apply.”