The province is the level of government responsible for all forms of education, including post-secondary education (PSE). Although the federal government often provides money to the provinces and students for PSE through various grants, it is the provincial governments that can regulate and legislate with regards to how universities and colleges operate and exist. This is why OUSA was created.
The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) is a coalition of 9 student associations from 8 universities across Ontario. OUSA is directed by its Steering Committee, on which one representative from each member school hasa seat. The Steering Committee directs the organization’s research, advocacy and outreach initiatives. Together, they protect the interests of Ontario’s undergraduate students by providing research and ideas to governments on how to improve the affordability, accessibility, accountability and quality of post-secondary education in the province. The organization approaches its goal of advancing the needs of undergraduate students through five means: direct lobbying, public advocacy, issue awareness campaigns, research & policy solutions, and building partnerships.
BUSU was a founding member of OUSA, back in 1995. Since that time, BUSU and OUSA have worked long and hard representing student interests to the provincial government. Along with all other members, together representing over 150 000 full & part-time undergrads, OUSA has become a major stakeholder in the government policy realm of post-secondary education and is well respected by all partners big and small.
The professional work and pragmatically proactive solutions OUSA presents in meetings, government committee hearings & presentations, as well as in the media, have served Brock students very well. Together with the student unions at McMaster, Western, Windsor, Waterloo, Laurier, Queens, & (most recently) Trent in Oshawa, OUSA has developed a long record of success in advocating for change. Here is a short list of our biggest accomplishments:
- a two-year tuition freeze and associated funding to ensure quality
- an update to OSAP’s definition of “independent” student from five to four years out of high school
- a reduction in expected parental contribution for OSAP recipients
- an increase in post-secondary funding of over $6.2 Billion by 2009
- a new system of first and second year grants for low-income students, providing up to $9,000 over two years
- increased the financial aid package to through the Ontario Student Opportunity Grant (OSOG)
- improved OSAP interest relief for graduates
- the creation of the Textbook and Technology Grant
- distance grants for students who live 80km or more from a university
- an increase to OSAP’s school year work income exemption from $52 to $104
- Ontario’s 30% Tuition Grant program
- the elimination of OSAP’s credit check procedures
How can students get involved with OUSA?
All Brock students are members of OUSA because BUSU is a member. Every year, a one-time rate of $2.85 is charged to students as a membership fee.
Students can get involved in several different ways by contacting BUSU’s representative to OUSA, the VP of University Affairs, Steven Nicholls. OUSA completes a lot of research on post-secondary issues, meets and lobbies politicians & bureaucrats frequently, and organizes campus-level informational campaigns. The organization holds several conferences a year to which each school brings a number of delegates to discuss the organization’s research and lobbying work.
Steven will be leading a research paper project for OUSA on the topic of students with disabilities and the academic, physical, mental, and financial barriers that may affect this demographic when attending university. If interested in contributing time and research to this project, feel free to email Steve or Arielle Stockdale (see below for contact info).
Here are the other BUSU people directly involved with OUSA’s activities:
- OUSA Campus Coordinators (Campaigns): Kerri Behling & Antonio Sergi, Advocacy Coordinators
- OUSA Campus Researcher: Arielle Stockdale, Research & Policy Manager
If you have any questions or ideas, or are interested in learning more and possibly getting involved, email or call Steven Nicholls at email@example.com or 905-688-5550 ext. 4198. One can also visit www.ousa.ca to stay up-to-date on issues affecting undergraduates, and to read more into our efforts and see how OUSA works for you.