May 4th, 2020
TORONTO, ON - The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) is proud to release our policy on improving post-secondary education for rural and northern students. The paper was written, approved, and published by students to elevate student concerns and provide recommendations to improve the experiences of rural and northern post-secondary students.
"OUSA’s Rural and Northern Students policy paper ensures that the voices and concerns that students from rural and northern communities, or who attend northern post-secondary institutions, are being represented at the highest level possible,” said Malek Abou-Rabia, current Vice President Education for the Students’ General Association at Laurentian University and OUSA Steering Committee Member. “I’m incredibly proud of the work our team has done to offer strong and effective recommendations to address these concerns.”
The paper identifies a number of concerns that rural and northern students face when attempting to access post-secondary education, persist and feel supported throughout their post-secondary careers, and transition into the workforce. Students are concerned about barriers to access for rural and northern students seeking entry to Ontario’s post-secondary institutions; infrastructure barriers in rural and northern communities, including inadequate transit, internet, and health care access; unsupportive campus and community climates, particularly for Indigenous, Francophone, Two Spirit, LGBTQ+, international, and racialized students; and limited experiential learning and employment opportunities.
In response to these concerns, students have proposed a number of recommendations that they believe the provincial government should adopt in order to support the experiences of rural and northern post-secondary students. Broadly, students are asking for greater attention to outreach initiatives for incoming rural and northern students; investments in infrastructure to improve transit, internet, and health care access in rural and northern areas; a focus on enhancing safety and promoting culture; and the creation of employment opportunities for students and new graduates in rural and northern communities.
"Students from rural and northern communities often have a unique set of barriers when accessing post-secondary education that students from southern urban regions may not face. This paper captures concerns and desires voiced by rural and northern students with varied upbringings and identities,” said Katlyn Kotila, former Vice President Education for the Students’ General Association and OUSA Steering Committee Member. "The Rural and Northern Students policy paper provides evidence-based recommendations to address barriers for rural and northern students such as infrastructure, access, healthcare, and campus climate. We hope that the provincial government adopts our recommendations as it is vital that all students are supported through their university career, regardless of geographic location."
This policy paper and its recommendations were written by students and finalized following consultation with students at OUSA’s membership schools attending a northern post-secondary institution and/or who come from a rural or northern community. It was passed on April 20th, 2020 at OUSA’s Spring 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.
Operations & Communications Coordinator
Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance