Student Basic Needs for Graduates of Fulfilled Potential

A look at how focusing on supporting student basic needs keeps students engaged & supported in finishing their degrees & an invitation to join the conversation 

As mentioned last week, we’re excited to announce that Orbis is now a Certified Living Wage Employer through the Ontario Living Wage Network.  Even as living wages are an important part of the career ecosystem, many students struggle with meeting basic needs while they are in college and university.  Unmet basic needs, from food and housing insecurity, mental healthcare and belonging, to affordable textbooks drastically affect a student’s ability to learn and thrive during their education.  

These setbacks often result in students stepping out and likely not finishing their degree. The stories of our students’ success are mirrored by the students who are slipping through the cracks. We understand the details of one group, but often do not notice the other. Students need to know that there are supports available but importantly, need to feel that it is safe to ask for help. When trusted networks and individuals make space and time to discuss issues of need, students respond to those cues. Campuses are increasingly making resources available to students through networks of people and departments.  

This information is intended to help you get acquainted with the kinds of needs students have while studying. We believe solutions will come through deep and reflective conversations. Here we want to show you the different ways researchers and practitioners are talking about student basic needs.   

For those of you working on college and university campuses, you’ve likely noticed more conversations and resources being dedicated to student basic needs.  Many campuses and researchers have been hard at work on helping students who might otherwise lack recognition and support. McMaster University published this Student Brief about the topic in 2020 while this  study (2018)  authored by researchers from the University of Waterloo and Meal Exchange, discusses the academic implications of food insecurity for students. The non-profit Canadian Poverty Institute also has national resourcesto help individuals find the support they need for success.    

In the US, a recent podcast from Student Affairs Now highlights leaders at three universities with campus (and system) level initiatives to address Student Basic Needs.Listen here(~45 minutes). You can read more about some of the efforts below:   

1) Temple University 

2) UC Santa Cruz (part of the University of California System) 

 We invite you to join us in a growing movement to support Student Basic Needs and, in doing so, support student success. Bill Heinrich, our Director of Mindset, can help you get conversations started on your campus. If you would like to connect to a community of practitioners and researchers who are shaping Student Basic Needs conversations, please email Bill at