Unemployed NU-Q Students to Receive Meal Cards and Short-Term Stipends

Bishal Sharma, Staff Reporter

Multaqa, the Education City Student Center (Photo/ HBKU)

Northwestern University in Qatar is providing meal cards and stipends to first year students who are unemployed and on financial aid, according to an email sent on Sept. 30 by Barry Sexton, director of Business and Finance. This comes after many NU-Q students lost on-campus jobs due to COVID-19 and new students are unable to find new jobs.

“Starting Oct. 1, we will have a procedure whereby international students on financial aid living in the dorms and without jobs can apply for assistance… students working less than 10 hours per week, where less than 10 hours were available, can also be provided a prorated stipend if other employment isn’t available,” read the email from Sexton. 

Meal cards will only be provided to first year students, but other unemployed students are eligible to apply for a stipend of about 1,000 QAR, or request for a short-term loan up to 1,820 QAR from the finance office, Sexton told the Daily Q in an email. 

Throughout the summer, universities in the Education City collaborated with Qatar Foundation to provide free food for the international students living in the dorms, but they have stopped providing these meals since Oct. 1, 2020.

This has raised some worries for unemployed students who rely on student jobs to cover their food expenses and pay other bills since their financial aid does not cover meal plans and personal expenses. 

 “I am worried about the possibility of not being able to find jobs this semester,” said Neige Tresor Ikuzo, a first year NU-Q student. “As a freshman, I don’t have enough information regarding employment opportunities…and I don’t know if there are vacancies for jobs.”

When COVID-19 interrupted the spring semester, many student jobs at NU-Q were suspended. Since then, only research assistants, teaching assistants, and Writing Center peer tutors were able to continue their work remotely. Most of the students working in desk jobs were unable to work their normal working hours.

There are the usual jobs available as in previous years, however, the return to campus plan, which requires social distancing, has delayed some positions, said Sexton. 

NU-Q Students are currently looking for jobs in different places to make sure they are financially secure. “I think I have applied everywhere. I have considered everything, even jobs outside universities, like jobs at the dorms and freelance stuff…I am keeping my options open,” said Nesta Mwanasaluka, a sophomore at NU-Q.

QF housing will still provide free food for quarantined students, and other unemployed students who need financial help have been encouraged to reach out to housing.

“We have asked for students to contact us if they are struggling with finances and need support with meals,” said Matthew Nelson, the head of residence life at QF Student Housing. “As we receive such requests, we are working with QF’s partner universities and Hamad Bin Khalifa University to identify options for supporting these students.”

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