TORONTO, December 5, 2016 – Student leaders representing over 140,000 undergraduates from across Ontario travelled to Queen’s Park last week to meet with Deputy Premier Deb Matthews, MPPs, ministers, party critics, and political staff. Representatives from the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) sat in almost fifty meetings asking for mandatory training in sexual violence prevention for all university community members, fair and affordable tuition regulations for domestic and international students, and improved data collection and reporting across the entire sector.
Student advocates are asking that training in sexual violence prevention become standard for all members of university communities, and suggest that a unit within the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development be created to monitor and guide the quality of this training.
“We are proposing amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act as well as for the inclusion of bystander intervention training in Smart Serve certification programs,” says OUSA President, Jamie Cleary. “We are also pushing for the collection of data regarding the usage, quality, and effectiveness of services for students who have experienced sexual violence.”
Additionally, students are calling for more affordable tuition for both domestic and international students, the elimination of flat-fee billing, the creation of flexible tuition payment plans, an increase in the tuition set-aside (TSA), and for any increases to tuition to be indexed to no more than Ontario’s consumer price index (CPI).
"While a fully-funded tuition freeze would be ideal, if tuition increases are going to continue, we’re asking to restrict them to CPI, that the burden of tuition is eased through flexible tuition payment plans, and that the TSA fund be increased to better account for the financial need of increasing numbers of undergraduate students,” says Cleary. “To ensure stability and predictability, we are also advocating for regulated international student tuition.”
In addition to sexual violence prevention and tuition topics, student representatives are lobbying for the government to mandate the collection and publication of key sector information in a centralized and accessible location so students and their families can review valuable information regarding campus services, facilities, employment outcomes, and the student experience when making the decision to attend university. Jamie Cleary, President of OUSA, argues that this will allow the province to ensure accountability and transparency among universities.
“We are supporting the Pathways to Post-Secondary Excellence Act, a private member’s Bill addressing this access to post-secondary information in the form of a centralized online tool,” says Cleary.