January 22nd, 2017
Toronto, ON - The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance is releasing budget recommendations for the government, titled Educated Investments: Creating Opportunities for Student Success. This submission highlights the need for further investment in open educational resources, experiential learning, and university funding to maintain and improve the affordability and quality of a university education in the province.
“Ontarians, students and non-students alike, need universities that are funded adequately in order to provide the quality of education and research that they are intended to deliver. A theme of partnership is central to our recommendations,” said Andrew Clubine, OUSA President and student at the University of Waterloo. “The right investments into the post-secondary education sector will ensure that students’ learning is at the forefront of the government’s agenda.”
The investments recommended in this submission are inspired by student stories, and researched thoroughly to ensure they are effective solutions. The need for open educational resources comes from the inability of students to pay for their textbooks. Many students do not purchase textbooks, which harms their ability to succeed in the classroom, change courses based on the price of learning materials, or simply struggle to make rent and purchase groceries. This month, student across the province used #TextbookBroke to share their stories, and encourage further development of OERs in Ontario.
Experiential learning opportunities are also crucial to a students’ success after graduation. In 2016, the Premier’s Highly Skilled Workforce Expert Panel recommended that Ontario should commit to ensuring that every student has at least one experiential learning opportunity. Students want a commitment to sustaining, tracking, and improving funds available to facilitate this goal.
At the core of university affordability and quality lies the issue of underfunded universities. Since 2012 student contributions have outpaced provincial contributions, with the gap growing each consecutive year. In 2015-16 alone, students in Ontario were the largest contributor to Ontario’s post-secondary institutions, providing 55% of operating costs. Institutions have scrambled to subsidize their operations with their decrease in provincial funding, often increasing domestic tuition revenues as much as they can, and relying on international student tuition to make up shortfalls. Students request that the government increase the institutional base operating grants to the weighted national average, plan to continue responsible funding levels, and regulate tuition in a fair and affordable manner.
“Students need to know that their learning is supported, and encouraged, by this government,” said Landon Tulk, OUSA Vice-President Finance and student at Western University. “Investments into experiential learning opportunities, open educational resources, and into Universities themselves will ensure that education, and equipping the next workforce, is a priority for Ontario.”
OUSA represents the interests of 150,000 professional and undergraduate, full-time and part-time university students at eight student associations a cross Ontario. Our vision is for an accessible, affordable, accountable, and high quality post-secondary education in Ontario. To achieve this vision we’ve come together to develop solutions to challenges facing higher education, build broad consensus for our policy options, and lobby government to implement them.