March 1, 2022
OUSA Publishes Results of the 2020 Ontario Undergraduate Student Survey with Student Data on Accessibility of Post-Secondary Education
TORONTO, ON – The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) is excited to announce the release of the second of three reports sharing the results of its biennial Ontario Undergraduate Student Survey (OUSS), previously known as the Ontario Post-Secondary Student Survey. The OUSS received over 5,500 undergraduate and professional student responses across OUSA’s eight member schools. The reports cover the accessibility, affordability, and quality of post-secondary education in Ontario and are based on the results of the 2020 OUSS.
The second report, Accessibility: Results from the 2020 Ontario Undergraduate Student Survey, explores the accessibility landscape within post-secondary education and assesses the primary areas of concern related to educational success. Given that higher education serves as a mechanism for individuals to move up the economic ladder and attain sustainable livelihoods, equitable access to education is critical to facilitate not only entry into post-secondary, but retention and completion as well. The report reviews the varied barriers marginalized students face while attending post-secondary and highlights key concern areas for improvement.
“We need to critically examine why certain student groups continue to be underrepresented in post-secondary education, as the perpetuation of this inhibits economic and social mobility after graduation,” said Malika Dhanani, OUSA Research & Policy Analyst and author. “Coupled with inflexible transfer options and unaffordability, there is a substantive need for proactive and sustainable support to increase accessibility.”
Accessibility within post-secondary has long been an issue for students at OUSA member schools. While general access to post-secondary has improved in recent years, there is little evidence that this increase in overall enrolment has made it easier for disadvantaged students to access post-secondary education. Several groups in Ontario – including students from low-income families, first-generation students, racialized and Indigenous students, students from rural and northern communities, and students with disabilities – remain underrepresented within the province’s post-secondary institutions.
“When discussing accessibility, the conversation often revolves around physical barriers students experience on campus. However, the term ‘accessibility’ is broad and encompasses so much more,” said Shemar Hackett, OUSA Research & Policy Analyst and author. “As our results show, many marginalized students experience physical, social, financial, and systemic accessibility barriers that prevent them from succeeding and fully participating in their university experience.”
The OUSS provides 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 we encourage all post-secondary stakeholders to look to the OUSS and other similar data to better understand student needs and concerns.
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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