Advocating for graduate students since 2014
The Ontario Graduate Students' Alliance is a student advocacy organization which represents the interests of more than 15,000 graduate students across the Province of Ontario. We work collaboratively with partners, stakeholders, and aligned student organizations to advocate for policy and system change to support the continued improvement of the graduate student experience. We are the only advocacy organization which exclusively represents graduate students in the province.
Graduate students live, work, and study in a fundamentally different context than undergraduate students and as such their most pressing concerns are best addressed by organizations which understand that context, and by student leaders who experience it every day.
Current Advocacy Priorities
Graduate Student Mental health
Many Ontario campuses are in a state of crisis regarding the challenges facing graduate students and the impact those challenges have on students' mental health. Despite years of new investments into mental health initiatives on Ontario campuses little has been done to address the unique needs of the graduate student population specifically. We need more counselors, more graduate student specific services, and a recognition from the Province that undergraduate and graduate students require differentiated service frameworks at on-campus health services.
Tuition and Ancillary fees
The cost of an education in Ontario continues to get more expensive and while the Province has instituted a cap on tuition increases the Universities have offset this cap by raising ancillary fees on students. When Universities cannot raise tuition prices, they raise what they can and students are now bearing the burden of funding new vanity and legacy projects all across the Province. There has to be a stricter ancillary fee protocol which prevents Universities from downloading the cost of every new project onto students.
Sexual and Gendered Violence
The OGSA believes survivors and we believe that sexual and gendered violence on Ontario campuses demands more comprehensive and collaborative solutions than the schools and the province have put forward. Universities themselves should not act in place of the police, or the courts, and should not come to their own conclusions about the veracity of sexual and gendered violence accusations on Ontario campuses. We need to empower survivors rather than protect perpetrators.
Students with disabilities
Far too often the unique needs of students with disabilities are ignored by administration officials and never considered by public servants. Graduate students with disabilities face particularly acute challenges on Ontario campuses, most notably a significant discrepancy in service levels provided to them compared to those available to undergraduate students. Additionally, social stigmas surrounding disabilities remain prevalent, compounding existing challenges such as campus buildings failing to meet AODA requirements. The OGSA is partnering with the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance and the Regroupment Étudiant Franco-Ontarien to publish a government submission on students with disabilities, which will provide actionable recommendations to the Government.
Graduate Student Funding
The hallmark of a graduate education in Ontario, minimum funding guarantees, is slowly becoming a rarity. Increasingly, administrations are curtailing the amount of funding, teaching, and research opportunities for graduate students because costs are going up and Provincial transfers to Universities haven't gone up in a decade. Without funding for research and teaching opportunities the value proposition of a graduate education will disappear, we need a renewed commitment by the Province and by the Universities to protect funding for research and teaching opportunities.
International Student Tuition
International student tuition has skyrocketed over the last decade. Because of the cap on tuition increases for domestic students Universities have raised tuition on international students exponentially as a way to balance out those domestic tuition caps. International students are effectively being used to subsidize the post-secondary education sector. While international students do not pay taxes like domestic students do, the tuition increases have nothing to do with fairness but rather have everything to do with Universities needing to squeeze every dollar they can to afford increased operating costs. If we continue to let tuition for these students grow unregulated then our comparative advantage will be weakened and many students may look elsewhere for their education.
What else can we advocate for?
Use the form below to let us know about an issue you are dealing with at your campus, this can be anything from an unfair rule from your administration, to gaps in government policy. Whatever needs changing or fixing we're interested to hear about!