May 2010
Vol 1, Issue 10

The Communiqué 
OUSA's May Update   
Dear OUSA Members, (OUSA President | Dan Moulton)
April and May mark my last months as OUSA President and this will be my last message for the communiqué. I wish to take this chance to thank everyone who has contributed to OUSA in the past year. And what a year it's been!

From the approval of OUSA's new Long-Term Plan, the overhaul of OUSA's website, our successful "Food for Thought" campaign, another strong Partners in Higher Education Dinner, and shared advocacy successes, much has been accomplished in the past year. 

Most importantly, OUSA had an incredibly successful year in advocacy, policy development and government relations. Our submission to the Post-Secondary Education Secretariat, entitled "Ontario A Province of Knowledge", translated into true action through a significant investment in Student Financial Assistance and reform to the OSAP program; almost all of which was directly taken from the recommendations of OUSA. 

These accomplishments are a true credit to a dynamic team of leaders at OUSA in the 2009-2010 academic year. Our Steering Committee, Home Office staff, and  all of our partners and students contributed a great deal of energy and leadership to to the Alliance; and our successes are a testament to their commitment. 

To my fellow Vice-Presidents on the Steering Committee, thank you all for your tireless work on behalf of the students of Ontario. From your high-level research and policy work to your outstanding ability as advocates for our students, you never ceased to impress me throughout the year. 

To our tenacious Home Office staff, thank you for always going above and beyond the call of duty. The long hours, hard work and dedication you have put into OUSA this past year has not gone unnoticed. You are the driving force behind the day-to-day operations of the Alliance, and the strength of our policy and research, communications and government relations is directly attributed to your commitment. Thank you so much, and good luck in the coming year as you build upon the successes of the past. 

To our partners in government and throughout the sector, thank you for your unrelenting commitment to building a stronger system, and a brighter future for the students and citizens of this province. Your dedication to this goal does not go unnoticed by the students this system serves.  

Thank you to all the student leaders of OUSA for allowing me to serve at your President this past year. It has been an honour and privilege, and I could not have done it without you! Together we have done our part to ensure the strength of this Alliance into the years ahead. Ensuring OUSA will continue to think critically, plan strategically, and develop meaningful solutions to challenges facing the Post-Secondary system in Ontario. 

-Dan Moulton
In This Issue
Survey shows students struggling with debt
Thank You Steering Committee
OUSA's Summer Research Team
Executive Director Update
The Communications Post
The DORPA Report
Research Intern Report
Join Our Mailing List!
OUSA's Links
Survey shows students struggling with high debt
Student Survey
Undergraduate students in Canada are deeply concerned about their ability to pay back their student debt, says a report released today by a partnership of student alliances from across Canada. The "Canadian Student Survey: Upper-Year Canadian PSE Students Future Plans and Debt" examines how students feel about their job prospects and debt levels, as well as how this debt will impact their future. The report, based on a survey of over 21,000 students, half of them from Ontario, shows that over half of upper-year students with debt are concerned with their ability to pay it back. In addition, one-third of students reported turning to private loans to finance their education, causing them to pay higher interest rates while enjoying none of the repayment assistance available for government loans.

The report also examines how those students from families with the lowest levels of parental education were more likely to have accumulated debt and to have higher total median debt.
"There's no doubt that students from families with lower levels of parental education are being hit the hardest," said Dan Moulton, President of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance. "While the provincial and federal governments have done much to improve financial assistance, significant challenges remain."

The Repayment Assistance Plan, recently adopted by the provincial and federal governments, will do much to support students with high government debt. But both levels of government continue to spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year on education tax credits that predominately benefit students from high-income backgrounds and do nothing to promote access to education. During the 2007 Ontario election, the Liberal government pledged to eliminate these tax credits and move the money into up-front grants.

"We look forward to seeing the government fulfill this commitment in the coming year," added Moulton. "More government grants are absolutely necessary if we are to reduce students' reliance on costly private loans and ensure a bright future for all."

The Canadian Student Survey was a bilingual, multi-institutional survey conducted on university campuses across the country in the fall term of the 2009-10 academic year. It was commissioned by a partnership of student alliances across the country, including the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA), Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA), Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS) and Alliance of Nova Scotia Student Associations (ANSSA).

The report is the second of three to be released this year, and can be found HERE.
OUSA's 2009-2010 Steering Committee
(Back, L-R) Paul Bien, Chris Martin, Rob Lanteigne, Kory Preston, Alexi White, Adam Zabrodski, Justin Williams, Alvin Tedjo
(Front, L-R) Susannah Gouinlock, Dan Moulton (Missing: Robert Woodrich) 
09-10 SC
OUSA would like to thank the Steering Committee of the 2009-2010 academic year. You accomplished great things for Ontario students this year, congratulations on all of your successes, and best wishes in the future.
OUSA's Summer Research Team
(L-R) Chris Martin, Sam Andrey, Morgan Campbell

From May to August, OUSA's Research Team will be diving into some very important issues. The three main research projects for the summer will be student financial aid, early outreach, and international students. The team will also be creating OUSA's issue briefings and analyzing data on student ancillary fees, system cost inflation, and results from the Canadian Student Survey.

The team consists of:

Chris Martin, OUSA Steering Committee Member during the '09-'10 Academic Year, and McMaster Students Union Vice President (Education)

Sam Andrey, OUSA Director of Research & Policy Analysis, recent graduate of the University of Waterloo, and a former OUSA Campus Coordinator and General Assembly Delegate

Morgan Campbell, who is currently the Student Trustee on the Queen's University Board of Trustees, as well as the Alma Mater Society's External Affairs Coordinator

They can be reached at: sam@ousa.on.ca, chris@ousa.on.ca, morgan@ousa.on.ca, or at researchteam@ousa.on.ca
Executive Director Update | Alexi White
AlexiWith students switching to exam mode and only two staff holding down the fort in Toronto, April was a much slower month at OUSA. And it was certainly a welcome change from the intensity of March.

Nevertheless, April had a number of highlights. OUSA was invited to participate in a day-long workshop on issues in teaching and learning, hosted by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario and attended by sector stakeholders and leaders in the teaching and learning field from numerous colleges and universities. The group discussed the current state of research on teaching and learning and recommended a number of directions for further research.

On the political front, OUSA was invited to make a submission to the Ontario Progressive Conservative 2011 platform committee. We stressed the need to improve the quality of post-secondary education and, rather than focus on traditional indicators like student-faculty ratios and deferred maintenance bills, presented out-of-the-box solutions to improve student engagement and success.

Also on the topic of teaching and learning, the Ontario Council of Academic Vice-Presidents has recently invited OUSA to present our thoughts on the issue at their meeting in May. We look forward to beginning a conversation in May and, in the months to come, working with administrators across Ontario to change the culture around teaching and learning.

In other news, OUSA has hired two summer interns to add to our research capacity for the next four months. Chris Martin and Morgan Campbell will be working on a variety of issues ranging from international students to early outreach initiatives to university cost inflation. The summer is a critical time to develop the research and policy that will inform our advocacy agenda throughout the coming year and I know Chris and Morgan are more than up to the task.

Finally, I wish to recognize the outgoing Steering Committee for their tremendous work and dedication over the past twelve months. These student leaders have devoted countless hours of their time and energy to ensuring a bright future for the students of Ontario and there is no doubt that the three of us at home office in Toronto would be lost without them. Thank you all!

-Alexi White
The Communications Post (Director of Communications & Public Relations | Alvin Tedjo)
Much has been said of the academic year we have just completed and all of OUSA's successes and accomplishments. Successes that are making changes that will improve the lives of all Ontario students attending a post-secondary institution, and wanting to attend a post-secondary institution. Keeping in the truest of OUSA principles, to not only advocate for those who are here, but for those who are to come.

Looking to the future, within the Communications & Public Relations sphere, OUSA is working towards improving our media presence, and building on the national, provincial, and local attention OUSA received throughout the past year. Students have a clear message that post-secondary education is and always has been the key towards a progressive and successful society. With higher rates of the population with a higher education, we get a highly skilled workforce, better jobs, and stability. OUSA advocated time and time again that investment in post-secondary education IS a stimulus for the economy, and that it has very tangible economic results.

These issues and the issues of our students and institutions will be at the forefront of our communications message for the upcoming year. With the next issue of Educated Solutions coming out in September, we hope to continue to stir dialogue and raise issues. We will also continue to blog on a weekly basis throughout the summer and deliver our messages through this communiqué.

Please don't hesitate to send me comments, suggestions and content for any of our messaging, on the web, in print, or for our in person contact with students and government. Email me at alvin@ousa.on.ca, and please, stay in touch.

-Alvin Tedjo
The DORPA Report (Director of Research & Policy Analysis | Sam Andrey)
The month of April was been a hectic one for me. As I was finishing my final exams and packing up in Waterloo, I was going back and forth to Toronto to transition into my new role here at OUSA. My multi-day transition at the beginning of April with the outgoing DoRPA, Paul Bien, was extremely helpful for getting a better sense of my day-to-day responsibilities and the current state of research by OUSA and the broader sector. Through April, I was also able to participate in a couple of sessions put on by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario where they shared their current research on attainment, access, persistence, student services, quality metrics, and system costs. I am particularly excited about the volume of new research that will be coming out of HEQCO in the next year that should prove very valuable to OUSA in its policy analysis and advocacy agenda.

I also was able to interview and hire our two summer research interns towards the end of April, so I have the pleasure of welcoming Chris Martin and Morgan Campbell to our home office team (and to the coolest portfolio in OUSA). The three of us started together full-time on May 3rd and it has been a busy week already. As the interns are working on updating our website issue briefings with the most up-to-date information, I have begun preparatory work on the three big research projects for the coming months: student financial aid, early outreach, and international students. We will also soon begin analyzing data on student ancillary fees, system cost inflation, and our results from last year's Canadian Student Survey - so there should be no shortage of good times this summer.

I am really enjoying my new job, and I am looking forward to beginning to work with our new Steering Committee to produce new 'educated solutions' for the coming year.

-Sam Andrey
Research Intern Report
InternsMy name is Chris Martin, and I'm one of the research interns that will be joining OUSA for the summer months. I'm from McMaster University, originally studying Political Science. Last year, I was elected to Vice-President (Education) of the McMaster Students Union and had a great experience with the 2009-2010 Steering Committee. I'm really excited to continue working for OUSA for a couple more months, specifically gathering information for OUSA's upcoming paper on international students. As is widely known, international student tuition is completely unregulated. At my own institution, international student tuition will be rising by 6% for this upcoming year. Not only is this unfair to these students, but it makes Ontario a less attractive location for international students to study.

I'm Morgan Campbell from Queen's University. I'm also a Political Science Major with a Development Studies Minor. I'm currently a student representative on the Queen's Board of Trustees, and am looking forward to gathering research on issues regarding the funding and accessibility of post-secondary education. In addition to updating issue briefs and keeping OUSA current on research and new developments in the sector, I also plan to work intensively with the Access and Educational Attainment Paper, updating it with some of the more recent findings surrounding the barriers to PSE participation for under-represented populations.
Alvin Tedjo
Director of Communications & Public Relations
OUSA | Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance