OUSA is busy gearing up for the coming academic year. A posting for an Operations Coordinator, a new position with OUSA, was released late last week. OUSA staff and Steering Committee members are looking forward to welcoming a new skillset to the team. We’ve also been working with Alysha and Rylan to revise OUSA’s long-term plan and will work with Steering Committee to solidify a vision for the organization that will carry OUSA through the coming challenges and changes in the sector. We’ve also been absorbed in discussions around creating a reserve fund for future elections since that’s always a possibility in the current minority government and potentially linking the new strategic plan to budgetary values.
OUSA responded to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities recent discussion paper (entitled Strengthening Ontario’s Centres of Creativity, Innovation and Knowledge) with a submission called Educated Reform, which has been central to the consultations we’ve been having with MTCU. Huzaifa recently attended the consultation at Fanshawe College in London, which played host to an incredibly productive and refreshing conversation around topics that aren’t normally featured in the sector. Namely, conversation in the consultation explored credit transfer, experiential learning, learning assessments, tying university funding to quality of education outcomes, supporting student entrepreneurs and so on. Mira will be representing OUSA at MTCU’s consultation in Ottawa later this month.
There’s also a lot going on at our respective campuses. At Queen’s, the AMS is working with partners at the University to assess options moving forward with the GPA system, which was implemented in May 2011. The switch from percentages to letter grades and GPA negatively impacted some students who received scholarships or who were applying to graduate school, leading to widespread concern that students were disadvantaged by the new system. The AMS will be revising our internal policy manual this coming year, which dictates the political stance of the Society on issues such as tuition, ancillary fees, and quality metrics. In light of the government’s discussion paper, we hope to have a more fulsome discussion about the role and structure of post-secondary education, and to translate the results of those discussions into AMS policy and positions.
At McMaster, the Forward with Integrity project being spearheaded by President Dr Patrick Deane seems to suit the innovation sentiment in the sector. The letter essentially is a declaration of interest by Dr Deane to fundamentally and radically rethink the institutional goals surrounding our student experience, community engagement, internationalization and research with a heavy student-centered focus. Since the publication of the letter, taskforces were formed to come up with a list of recommendations back in May. The Project is now at its pivotal phase with the various recommendations flowing down towards students and faculty for feedback. The MSU itself is preparing our own response, while exploring ideas and projects the taskforces might not have broached. The entire project is definitely something most institutions in Ontario and Canada can look at as an indication for the need for Canadian Universities to rethink their institutional mission and values in our new global knowledge economy and it’s challenges and opportunities.
If you’d like to hear more about what the OUSA Executive is up to, feel free to get in touch with either one of us. Mira and Huzaifa can be reached at [email protected] and [email protected], respectively.
Mira Dineen Huzaifa Saeed
Vice-President Administration OUSA Vice-President Finance