MSU BoD Meets with Ministers Duguid and McMeekin

May 24, 2013 at 12:02 pm

The Board of Directors of the McMaster Students Union met with Ted McMeekin, Minister of Community and Social Services and MPP for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale, as well as Brad Duguid, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities at the most recent meeting of the Hamilton Post Secondary Advisory Group (HPSAG). Hosted by Redeemer University College, the May 23rd meeting focused on numerous issues including the MSU’s recommendations to improve student financial aid literacy and student employment rates, both during terms of study and post-graduation.   

MSU’s brief to the Ministers:

Financial Aid and Financial Literacy

Background:Financial literacy is a major challenge facing Ontario university students. Financial aidinvolves complex programs, poorly understood by students and their families.In a surveyconducted in 2009, 75% of studentsfailed a simplesevenquestionquiz on aspectsof the studentloan system.Significant confusionexistsaround eligibility, application dates, theapplication process,interestrates,loan consolidation,repayment datesand the processof repayment. Moststudentsrely on friendsand family to access information, whereasthe mostaccurate and complete sources -federal and provincialgovernment websites- are usedby only about 40% of students.

Recommendations:

  • Utilize a marketing team such as Campus Intercept (already used by Elections Ontario) to promote financial aid information and assist student unions and financial aid offices with the dissemination of credible information.
  • Implement student-focused public relations campaigns, embracing social media and internet marketing to effectively communicate with students.
  • Provideearly outreach of financial aid literacy to high school students,prior to entering post-secondary education so studentsare better informed before applying to a post-secondary institution.

Student (Un)Employment

Background: Over 60% of new students choose to attend university with the aim of preparing for a specific job or career. It is expected that by 2031, 77% of Ontario’s work force will require a university education. However, the employment rate for those 24 years of age and under in the province of Ontario sits at 16.2%, more than twice the national average (7%).  Students are having difficulty finding work during both their terms of study, as well as at the start their careers. Statistics Canada reports that the 18-24 demographic is the only cohort currently experiencing higher rates of unemployment then prior to the financial crisis of 2008.

Recommendations:

  • Allocate a portion of the $195M Youth Employment Fund to fund wage subsidies for meaningful private-sector employment opportunities for university students & graduates.
  • Jobs that are related to academic field of study or teach critical skills should be emphasized in terms of qualifying for the subsidy program.
  • Employers, students and recent graduates should be eligible to apply for wage subsidy programs. Moreover, a comprehensive strategy must be implemented to ensure that a wide diversity of employers, students and recent graduates are aware of funding opportunities.

Medium_bod_with_ted_and_duguid

The Hamilton Post Secondary Advisory Group, formed and Chaired by Minister McMeekin, brings the student leaders of Hamilton’s three PSE institutions - McMaster University, Mohawk College and Redeemer University College - together for roundtable talks about post-secondary education in the city of Hamilton and the province more generally. The MSU uses this valuable opportunity to speak with the provincial government on matters that are of interest to students at McMaster University.  

For more information, please contact:

David Campbell
MSU President
president@msu.mcmaster.ca
905-525-9140 ext. 23885

OR

Spencer Graham
VP (Education)
vped@msu.mcmaster.ca
905-525-9140 ext. 24017

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