November 20, 2020
TORONTO - The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) is proud to release its interim policy paper, Responding to COVID-19. The paper was written, approved, and published by students to provide recommendations in response to the concerns that students are facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"In the months since Ontario’s first cases of COVID-19, students have been vocal about its impact on their personal and academic lives, but support for students has been noticeably absent from the provincial government's pandemic response,” said Megan Town, Vice President Education for the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association and OUSA Steering Committee Member. “It was important that we developed this comprehensive policy stance to provide recommendations for a student-centred, system-wide response.”
The paper identifies a number of student concerns that have been exacerbated or emerged as a result of the pandemic. Students are increasingly concerned about the affordability of post-secondary education and access to employment and financial assistance; the accessibility and quality of online learning; the lack of coordinated response from post-secondary institutions; new barriers to accessing post-secondary; student health and safety; a loss of experiential learning opportunities; and the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on international students and students with caregiver responsibilities.
In response to these concerns, students have proposed a number of recommendations that they believe the provincial government should adopt in order to support students throughout the pandemic and as the province begins recovery efforts. Broadly, students are asking for improvements to student financial assistance, as well as guidance and investments to support greater accessibility and quality of online learning and the health and safety of students.
"This is a challenging and unprecedented time for all of us, and we hope that the recommendations in this paper will be adopted by the provincial government and used by institutions to centre students in their COVID-19 response,” said Ryan Tse, Vice President Education for the McMaster Students’ Union and OUSA Steering Committee Member. "We will continue to listen to student concerns and revisit our recommendations to ensure they are responsive to the changing context and supportive of students now and as we move forward."
This policy paper and its recommendations were developed by students at OUSA’s membership schools and reflect student concerns in Fall 2020. It was passed on November 1st, 2020 at OUSA’s Fall General Assembly, held virtually. To read it, click 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.
Communications & Operations Coordinator
Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance