A look at five primarily undergraduate universities reveals the variety of post-secondary options across the country
University of Ontario Institute of Technology
The University of Ontario Institute of Technology is a relative newcomer to the post-secondary scene, but its mission was clear from the outset: to give its graduates a competitive edge. Putting an emphasis on the practical, UOIT’s focus includes business, information technology, engineering and science. Its faculty of energy systems and nuclear science offers Canada’s only honours degree in nuclear engineering. The university is also committed to innovative approaches to alternative energy sources, and offers courses in wind, solar, hydrogen, hydraulic, nuclear and geothermal energy. Currently under construction, the $28-million Automotive Centre of Excellence (ACE-Global) will be a cutting-edge research, design and training centre for the automobile industry. In fact, strength in research contributed to UOIT making a strong debut in the Maclean’s rankings this year, placing 12th out of 22 Primarily Undergraduate universities.
Located in Oshawa, UOIT is growing rapidly: undergrad enrolment was 6,285 this September, a 15 per cent increase from last year.
Wilfrid Laurier University
Wilfrid Laurier’s compact main campus is in Waterloo, Ont., part of Canada’s so-called Technology Triangle. Housing 21 research centres and 10 research chairs, innovation is the norm. In spite of growth that has seen its student population double over the past 10 years, Laurier retains a strong sense of community. It tied for fourth place in the Primarily Undergraduate category in this year’s rankings, with a strong showing on the reputational survey and the number of faculty winning awards and research grants.
The School of Business and Economics has an enrolment of more than 4,500; one of the biggest drawing cards is its co-op component. Meanwhile, a liberal-arts-focused campus in Brantford, Ont., offers an interdisciplinary program in contemporary studies and a concurrent education program in partnership with Nipissing University. A social work program, at the nearby Kitchener campus, allows students to work closely with service agencies in the area. And through the Centre for Community Service-Learning, more than 1,300 students earn academic credit by working with local non-profit organizations.
University of Lethbridge
The focus at Lethbridge, in southern Alberta, is on giving students a well-rounded liberal arts education. Undergraduates are encouraged to participate in research, and the university’s modest size allows close contact with faculty. When it comes to research, the university strives to stay relevant to the region. The recently completed Alberta Water and Environmental Science Building collects an interdisciplinary team of geologists, physicists and economists under one roof, all researching water. (A second-place finish on the number of faculty winning medical-science grants helped propel Lethbridge to a rank of sixth this year among Primarily Undergraduate universities.) The faculty of education, meanwhile, offers an array of Aboriginal-centred program options.
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