The Undergraduates of Canadian Research-Intensive Universities(UCRU)is an alliance of student unions in Canada. Our common objective is to protect the interests and advocate on behalf of over240,000 undergraduate university students from Canada’s largest research-intensive universities (U15).
Mental health is a salient issue for all Canadians. People aged 15-25 are at a heightened risk for mental health issues and students face pre-existing challenges when accessing mental health support. Limited mental health support creates barriers towards completing their academic careers and entering the workforce. Likewise, as a result of inflated costs of living and basic necessities, students require additional support to attend post-secondary institutions. For example, in 2022/2023, the average tuition fees for international undergraduate students doubled. Additionally, indigenous students face unique barriers to accessing post-secondary institutions, often experiencing a sense of isolation and inadequate support for their educational success. Barriers such as inadequate mental health support and limited financial support limits student inbound and outbound mobility when accessing post-secondary education.
Similarly, affordable housing Canada is sparse, especially at post-secondary institutions which are primarily located in downtown CMAs that have volatile housing markets. Students are especially vulnerable to rising costs in housing markets because they do not have the same protections of long-term tenants since student leases are short and often move around their post-secondary institution.
The Undergraduates of Canadian Research-Intensive Universities(UCRU) commend the government’s commitments to increasing student financial aid in Budget 2021 but still believe that barriers such as mental health, increasing costs of living, and unaffordable housing limit educational quality and experience at Canadian post-secondary institutions. We have outlined several recommendations to work towards these goals.
As a collective UCRU advocates to the Federal Government for a better university experience for all students. We acknowledge that our members live, work, and study across Canada on the traditional and unceded territory of many Indigenous peoples including the Cree, Dené, Métis, Sioux, Huron Wendat, Attawandaran, Anishinaabeg, Haudenosaunee, Leni-Lunaape, Musqeaum and the many distinct Coast Salish peoples.
UCRU is committed to advocating for the needs of Indigenous students and furthering Indigenization, decolonization, and reconciliation in our communities and beyond. Each year, UCRU members determine our annual priorities, and create federal policy solutions based on those topics. This year, UCRU is advocating for student mental health, international students, student financial aid, and housing.