Student awards on track

The new system has allowed the awards process to go much smoother this year. (Graphic by: Lena Yang)
The new system has allowed the awards process to go much smoother this year. (Graphic by: Lena Yang)

As of this week, approximately 95 per cent of the awards from the student awards office have been processed and the results released to students.

Last year, when students were notified that the results would not be released until March — instead of the usual early February release time — it was termed a delay. However, this year Ruth MacNeil, acting university registrar, believes they are “in really good shape.”

“Obviously we’re still fine-tuning the system, because our goal is actually to have all of our awards dispersed by the end of January,” she said. “So we’re within targets, but we still have a little bit of work to do to clean it up. But we’re in much better shape this year than last year.”

The delay last year was due to the fact that a new system was being implemented. As part of this, 600 awards needed to be built from scratch.

This year, however, there were only 40 new opportunities that needed to be built.

By next year, MacNeil anticipates they will be able to hit their January target.

The new system means that students no longer have to search for awards that they may be eligible for. Instead, they fill out a general student profile and a faculty-specific profile that then allows them to be automatically matched to awards they are eligible for.

“So it benefits in two ways. It benefits the students because they don’t have to go searching for things. And on our side we only pull those students who are actually eligible to be considered for an opportunity,” MacNeil explained.

This means the process is more efficient since the awards office doesn’t have to consider applications that students submitted to awards that they are not actually eligible for.

The efficiency of this new system will be partly responsible for their ability to get results out to students by January.

“Getting used to the system is always a big thing, because it was such a radical change for us,” she said. “But as we fine-tune it and we see further opportunities to develop to make it a better system then obviously it’s going to help our processes as well.”

While students weren’t notified that the results would be released a little later again this year, MacNeil said students are able to stay updated on Loris. For example, students are able to see when they are being considered as candidates for a given award.

According to MacNeil, the amount of students who have filled out profiles does have some impact on when results are able to be released. While the new system makes this easier, they still have to read through the top 20 or 25 applications to make final recommendations.

Last year saw an influx in students; however, this year’s intake was relatively the same.

In terms of making improvements for next year, MacNeil said there are two aspects they are going to be focusing on.

“Fine-tuning the application process, so we can be more efficient in getting the funding out into students’ hands. And education of the student body so we get more students applying for financial aid.”

MacNeil expects all awards to have completed the process over the next two weeks.

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