December 9th, 2019
TORONTO, ON - The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) is proud to release our policy paper on Ancillary & Incidental Fees, which was recently approved at our Fall General Assembly. The paper was written and ratified by students, and it provides recommendations intended to improve the structure of ancillary and incidental fees as well as the services and programs that those fees support.
"This paper is the result of careful deliberation on student affordability and agency," said Matthew Gerrits, Vice-President Education for the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association and OUSA Vice-President Finance. "It gives the government a roadmap to develop a system in which ancillary fees are accountable to students' needs and limited financial resources."
Students are concerned that the Student Choice Initiative has hurt the operations of services that students rely on for their well-being, including student associations, student-run food bank, peer support services, and equity services, and that this program was implemented without extensive consultation with a broad, diverse set of student groups. Students continue to be concerned over costly and unregulated fees for textbooks and learning materials, as well as inequitable cost-sharing between students and their institutions. There is also a lack of transparency and accountability regarding increases in ancillary fee amounts and where the proceeds of these fees are allocated.
Overarching recommendations in this policy focus on rescinding or improving the Student Choice Initiative, should the provincial government appeal the recent court decision quashing the program or implement a modified version at a later date. Recommendations also focus on creating standalone, comprehensive ancillary fee guidelines, regulating incidental fees, making learning materials more affordable, and promoting equitable cost-sharing.
"This paper provides the government with a critical analysis of affordability, autonomy, and choice,” said Niveditha Sethumadhavan, Vice President External Affairs for the Brock University Students’ Union and OUSA Steering Committee Member. “Its recommendations highlight the impacts of each of these areas on the quality of education that students receive.”
This paper was written and approved by student leaders after research and consultations with their constituents. It was passed at OUSA’s Fall General Assembly on November 3rd, 2019.
Today also marks the release of OUSA’s policy on Student Association Autonomy. This policy expresses student concerns over government intrusion onto the autonomy of student associations and post-secondary institutions, most notably through the introduction of the Student Choice Initiative. It recommends that, moving forward, the provincial government refrain from introducing legislation or regulations that infringe upon this autonomy.
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OUSA represents the interests of 150,000 professional and undergraduate, full-time and part-time university students at eight student associations across Ontario. Our vision is for an accessible, affordable, accountable, and high quality post-secondary education in Ontario.
Operations & Communications Coordinator
Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance