TORONTO, February 6, 2017 – The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) is excited to announce the release of three reports covering the affordability, quality, and accessibility of post-secondary education in Ontario. In November 2015, OUSA conducted its biennial Ontario Post-Secondary Student Survey and received over 10,000 responses to a series of questions asking students about their undergraduate experiences. The reports will be released over the course of three weeks at ousa.ca beginning this Wednesday, February 8th, 2017.
Affordability was students’ primary concern; tuition, ancillary fees, and financial assistance were all identified as top priority areas. “Despite finding that 79% of students work during the summer and 38% work during the school year to pay for school, part-time students, married students, and students with dependants still find their education unaffordable,” says Danielle Pierre, one of OUSA’s Research and Policy Analysts, “the government should focus its policy efforts on improving assistance programs for these specific student groups.”
Survey respondents included first generation students (37%), rural students (27%), mature students (20%), students with disabilities (19%), low-income students (18%), LGBTQ+ students (12%), international students (5%), northern students (3%), and Indigenous students (2%). Given this level of diversity, there is a clear need to be mindful of potentially marginalized students when planning and delivering universal supports and services on campus.
“In a climate where government initiatives are focusing on bringing more work-integrated learning opportunities to campus, it was reassuring to see that 88% of those who participated in some form of WIL reported that it had improved their education,” says Marc Gurrisi, an OUSA Research and Policy Analyst.
Other notable results include findings that students with disabilities feel less safe in their neighbourhoods than those without disabilities and that a third of all students think their institutions should put more emphasis on teaching as opposed to research.
These reports keep the student voice at the forefront of discussions about systemic change. This data will inform policy writing and advocacy efforts in the higher education sector, by ensuring the best possible information about student experiences is available.