Government Funding Changes and GSA Fees

July 18, 2019

As the official representative of graduate students on all campuses at the University of Waterloo, the GSA offers great initiatives to improve the academic and social experience of all graduate students. 

What we do:

  • Actively promote, represent and advocate for graduate student interests to the university administration and all levels of government.
  • Serve all graduate students of the University of Waterloo with dedication and commitment to enhance the quality of their academic and social experience.
  • Provide a social club for all graduate students.

Recent accomplishments:

  • Built in a membership discount for graduate students at the Graduate House on food and beverage items.
  • Lobbied for the creation of the Guide for Graduate Research and Supervision, which outlines key roles and responsibilities for students and supervisors and clarifies expectations at each state of the graduate program.
  • Advocated for improved snow clearing service at graduate student residences, to improve safety, mobility, and accessibility.
  • Provided more than $20,000 in funding support to over two-dozen graduate departmental student associations and groups.
  • For more information on the GSA’s efforts in the past year, see letter from the GSA President.

The GSA is dedicated to the continuous improvement of the graduate experience at the University of Waterloo. In light of recent legislative developments in the province, the GSA is doubling-down on this dedication and will work tirelessly to protect the rights and interests of graduate students. We will also be increasing our efforts toward student engagement to create awareness of political, academic and social issues impacting graduate students.

A major undertaking will be working with the Government of Ontario to protect the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) and the democratic and collective-bargaining rights of students that is currently being undermined through the Student Choice Initiative (SCI).


The cuts to OSAP are going to be felt deeply across campuses and will significantly impact life at the graduate level. Some of these effects include:

  • Reduction in grant funding for graduate research
  • Removal of financial support available to lower and middle income students, jeopardizing their ability to pursue graduate studies
  • Increase in costs for international students
  • Require students to begin repaying loans immediately upon graduation

GSA Fees & SCI

The SCI will limit the ability of graduate students across Ontario to engage in collective bargaining as the establishment of association fees was done through referendum and student advocacy. What fees are considered essential under the SCI was done without consultation of stakeholders and this results in a number of services being deemed essential – such as health and dental – and yet the association that offers these services are considered non-essential. This threatens our ability to provide graduate students with ongoing essential, and needed, services. More information on the SCI can be found here.

In compliance with the SCI, GSA fees have been restructured and are now categorized as essential and non-essential.

GSA Fees for Essential Services GSA Fees for Non-Essential Services
Academic Support
Wellness Support
Health & Dental Plans
GRT U-Pass
Essential Services Administration
Representation at UW: allows GSA to be the official voice of graduate students at the University.
External Representation: representation and advocacy to government and external organizations.
Advising Services: free legal, tax and academic counselling.
Social Initiatives: social events and initiatives including first year graduate student orientation.
Graduate House: subsidized food pricing, social programming and use of space.

Visit our web pages for detailed information on the new fee structure and changes to the administration of GSA services.

As a result of the SCI, many of the services that graduate students have fought for are at risk. The GSA provides graduate students with academic support, a social community, mental and physical health supports, legal aid, as well as advocacy and representation. To safeguard the continuity of these services, we need your help.

Choosing to support the GSA by not opting-out of fees will ensure the sustainability of our services to all graduate students and enable us to continue to represent every student on all campuses of the University.

We look forward to continuing to serve you in the new academic year and we will keep our membership updated as to our progress.

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