Students Call for Safeguarding the Educational Experience in Provincial Budget Submission

TORONTO, January 23, 2016 – Students at the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) have published their pre-budget submission Educated Investments: Safeguarding the Educational Experience to the provincial government. Its recommendations focus on four key areas: centralized data, supporting student services, preventing sexual violence, and advancing work-integrated learning (WIL).

“There are a lot of factors that go into the decision to attend post-secondary, and efforts by the province to provide data regarding campus services, facilities, employment outcomes, and the student experience can empower students and their families,” says OUSA President, Jamie Cleary. “We want the government to mandate the collection and publication of this data in a centralized location and to ensure prospective students have access to this important information.”

As organizations across the province circulate submissions to a government aiming for a balanced budget, OUSA points to cost effective solutions that serve students on their campuses. When it comes to improving support and safety on campus, students argue that it is not necessarily a matter of spending more public money, but using existing resources more efficiently. As one example, students are asking that funds previously used for the Mental Health Innovation Fund (MHIF) be re-allocated towards system-wide initiatives aimed at improving front-line mental health care.

Students are also 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. Changes to the Smart Serve training programs to include bystander intervention and sexual violence prevention are also being proposed.              

To capitalize on the momentum that came out of the Highly Skilled Workforce report, OUSA proposes important next steps regarding WIL. “84% of students from our membership who participate in WIL said it improved their educational experience,” says OUSA President, Jamie Cleary. “It’s statistics such as those that should drive the creation of more WIL opportunities for students through institutional grants or up-front subsidies for small businesses.”

OUSA’s pre-budget submission Educated Investments: Safeguarding the Educational Experience can be found here.