Every year, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) publishes "Habitats: Students in their Municipalities," a platform where undergraduate students from our nine member institutions can showcase their successes and challenges in their communities. It comprises a series of student-written case studies and articles focusing on municipal-level topics. For this special edition, OUSA has collaborated with Rural and Ready, a student-led non-profit organization, to recognize and highlight the distinct experiences of rural and northern students and to improve the affordability, accessibility, accountability, and quality of post-secondary education in the province.
Given the diverse geographical, social, and economic contexts, students in rural and northern areas face distinct challenges in accessing and persisting at post-secondary institutions. Hence, this edition will spotlight the lived experiences of students in rural and northern Ontario. The articles will concentrate on issues such as internet accessibility, disruptions of local transit systems and their impact on students, community-student relationships with a focus on student retention, and the availability of mental health services.
Ontario’s post-secondary institutions are integral parts of their respective municipalities, and collaboration and coordination between universities and their local municipalities is an important aspect of facilitating a mutually beneficial relationship. A healthy, productive environment born out of collaboration and coordination allows both students and municipalities to thrive by fostering an environment of trust, growth, respect, and community.