One of OUSA’s major strengths is its ability to provide educated solutions to government in the form of thoughtful and carefully crafted policy. Not only do they form the backbone of our advocacy initiative but they are also at the core of the mission and goals of the organization and contribute to its image as a thought leader in post-secondary education. Throughout its history OUSA has covered topics ranging from high-level vision and system design, all the way down to details of student financial assistance and funding.

Twice a year, members of OUSA from all of its schools come together to debate and approve the policies that will guide the organization for the coming years. The policies are created by students for students and form the basis for all the work we do here.

Student Employment

Students’ understanding and participation in “work” affects their university experience in many ways. Employment can serve as both a motivator and hindrance to academic success. It can teach valuable lessons while also detracting from academic work. It is the number one reason why students attend post-secondary school. Unfortunately, numerous barriers stand in the way of increasing the employment rates of highly educated youth. These barriers must be treated as distinct yet interconnected, and necessitate multifaceted approaches. This OUSA policy paper outlines how government, employers, educators, and students can work together to overcome barriers and move towards a more prosperous, productive future.

A Response to Sexual Violence within Post-Secondary Education

Students believe that institutions must take a proactive approach in addressing sexual violence on campus. In recognizing that the best approach to supporting overall student wellness is the prevention of crisis and violence, universities should endeavour to address both the physical and cultural exacerbations of sexual violence. All university campuses must be safe spaces, free from sexual violence for all students. To meet this goal institutions must provide information, infrastructure, resources, and programming that seek to mitigate sexual violence and misconduct.

Students with Disabilities

The concept of “disability” should be interpreted in broad terms including both present and past conditions as well as subjective components based on perceptions of disability. These subjective components determine disability in relation to individuals’ interactions with their environment: in the ways buildings are constructed, in the performance standards used to assess individuals, and in the ways individuals are expected to engage in daily activities. This interpretation of disability is referred to as a “social model” and places responsibility for overcoming accessibility barriers onto entire communities. This OUSA policy uses a social model of disability to offer recommendations that ensure all willing and qualified students in Ontario are able to access and excel within the post-secondary education system.

Online Learning

Online learning can be a useful option for students seeking more flexibility in completing their degree. Fully-online courses in particular are becoming more popular and provide an excellent alternative means of education to the traditional classroom environment. Having said that, students believe that online learning should not altogether replace traditional classroom learning and the benefits of an on-campus student experience. For this reason, this policy emphasizes online courses, not online degree programs. To all forms of online learning however, the same standards of quality found in traditional classroom environments should apply as well—a key tenant of this policy.

Teaching & Assessment

At the heart of the university experience is the profound learning that takes place in the classroom. This learning occurs through the acquisition and demonstration of discipline specific knowledge. As such, the undergraduate learning experience is heavily influenced by the quality and variety of teaching and assessment styles. This policy outlines students’ vision for the university sector and cultures of scholarship that strive to achieve excellence in undergraduate teaching and assessment.

Reforming Ontario’s Financial Assistance System

All willing and qualified students in Ontario should be able to access and excel within Ontario’s post-secondary education system. This often means that students must seek help to pay the high prices of a university education. The financial assistance system must provide sufficient funding for qualified individuals to attend post-secondary education. What’s more, any financial assistance students receive should enable them to devote their attention to their studies.


Within the span of 20 years, tuition as a source of operating revenue grew from 18 percent in 1988 to 37 percent in 2008. The most recent financial reports show tuition alone made up 45 percent of universities’ operating budgets in 2014—51 percent when fees are included— compared to the provincial government’s 43 percent contribution. As tuition continues to increase the affordability, accessibility, and accountability of a university education is put at risk. Our Tuition policy sets out students’ priorities for addressing their short and long term concerns with regards to the tuition framework and tuition payment processes.

Mature Students

As a minority group on university campuses, the unique needs of mature students can be easily overlooked. It is important that the term “mature students” does not disguise the heterogeneity of this group: “…it is erroneous to speak of ‘the adult learner’ as if there is a generic adult that can represent all adults.” However, amongst this varied group of students, there are common concerns that they share. 

LGBTQ+ Students

On university campuses across Ontario, students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, trans, two-spirit, non-binary, questioning, or who otherwise identify as Queer (LGBTQ+) face varying levels of discrimination, harassment, and exclusion. Without pathologizing being LGBTQ+, it is important to recognize the increased mental and physical health concerns associated with the marginalization these students routinely face.