Students in the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) have published their pre-budget submission Educated Investments: Providing Effective Systems and Enriching Experiences to the provincial government. The submission focuses on two key areas for investment: improved student financial assistance and expanded opportunities for work-integrated learning.
“The entry and exit points of a university degree are massively important, and key investments by the province can maximize student success during these transitions,” says Spencer Nestico-Semianiw President of OUSA and Vice-President Education at the McMaster Students Union. “We want students to have the financial assistance they need to begin university confidently, and graduate with the experience and skills necessary to succeed in the workforce.”
As organizations across the province circulate budget submissions to a government hoping to eliminate its deficit, OUSA points to cost effective solutions that serve students and the province at large. When it comes to improving the university system, students argue that it is not necessarily a matter of spending more public money, but using existing resources more efficiently. Students are asking that funds currently dedicated to educational tax credits are re-allocated to different, more effective forms of financial aid. Two suggestions for more progressive use of these funds include expanding grants for low-income students and increasing the OSAP maximum loan allowance, which currently does not accurately reflect costs of living for students.
The provincial government has made repeated assertions that it wants to empower young people to contribute meaningfully to the economy and build Ontario’s future. Students are asking the provincial government for increased and targeted investment in work-integrated learning or experiential learning opportunities, especially for underrepresented disciplines like the humanities, arts, and the social sciences.
“Graduates who are able to get relevant work experience in-study are more likely to be confident when looking for a job, and earn $2 to $3 dollars more per hour than their peers upon entering the workforce,” says Nestico-Semianiw. “Given the demand for ‘soft skills’ from employers, we should provide opportunities to students outside of STEM to get work experience and bridge the widening gap between qualified applicants and the jobs where they could thrive.”
OUSA’s pre-budget submission Educated Investments: Providing Effective Systems and Enriching Experiences can be found here.