August 6th, 2019
TORONTO, ON – The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) is excited to announce the release of the first of three reports sharing the results of its biennial Ontario Post-Secondary Student Survey (OPSSS). The reports cover the affordability, quality, and accessibility of post-secondary education in Ontario and are based on the results of the 2017 OPSSS, which received over 8,000 undergraduate and professional student responses across OUSA’s eight member schools.
The first report, Accessibility: Results from the 2017 Ontario Post-Secondary Student Survey, highlights the accessibility of Ontario’s universities as a policy priority for OUSA students, including physical and financial accessibility, as well as feeling safe and included on campus. In this report, three dimensions of accessibility are highlighted: the experiences of underrepresented groups, the ease of mobility between institutions, and the ease of traveling to and living near Ontario’s universities.
“The results of this survey make it clear that students have concerns about the adequacy of initiatives to make university more accessible,” said Ryan Tishcoff, OUSA Research & Policy Analyst. “This means not only making universities financially accessible, but also improving services and initiatives that help students feel safe and comfortable on campus.”
Students shared which areas related to accessibility require the most improvement at their universities, with student support services (33 percent), mental health or healthcare resources (19 percent), and equity and diversity on campus (15 percent) topping the list. Respondents also highlighted the need to improve services provided specifically for students with disabilities, supports for survivors of sexual assault, and efforts to target homophobia, racism, and transphobia on campuses.
The report also demonstrates which demographic groups continue to face systemic barriers to accessing post-secondary education in the province. While there is growing diversity on campuses in Ontario, low-income students, first generation students, racialized students and students of colour, Indigenous students, mature students, students with a disability, and LGBTQ+ students continue to be underrepresented.
“Without improvements to accessibility services and initiatives, there are many students who will continue to face barriers to post-secondary education,” said Britney De Costa, OUSA Research & Policy Analyst. “This is a serious concern, especially since eradicating many of these barriers is attainable.”
These reports provide important insight into the concerns students have and are important to inform systemic change efforts. OUSA will continue to collect and use this data to inform our policy and advocacy efforts, and encourages all post-secondary stakeholders to look to the OPSSS and other similar data to better understand student needs and concerns. Read the report here.
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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 Director
Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance