All Posts Tagged With: "college"
College students who transfer to university do well
From the 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings
Kristy Normore, 23, grew up in L’Anse-au-Loup, Nfld., and was one of 16 in her high school’s graduating class. (L’Anse-au-Loup has a population of 600.) She left to attend Memorial University in St. John’s, but found it wasn’t for her. “Some of my classes had over 300 people,” she says. “I absolutely hated it. No one knew your name.” Formerly a straight-A student, Normore found her marks began to drop. After her first year, she went back home and spent the year planning her next move.
Intent on a career in social work, Normore enrolled at Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) in Sydney, “one of the best decisions I ever made.” Classes had 30 people—tops. Tuition was cheaper. She got As again. After two years, diploma in hand, Normore transferred to Cape Breton University (CBU), right next to NSCC, into the bachelor of arts community studies (BACS) program. She graduated in June. Starting university the second time, she felt better prepared. “I was used to helping myself. I found it much easier.”
The Maclean’s ranking tool lets you mix and match data from the most recent edition of the Maclean’s University Rankings to build your own, customized university ranking.
Maclean’s ranks Canadian universities on a range of performance indicators in six broad areas, assigning a weight to each indicator that determines how much it contributes to the final score. The ranking tool lets you select whichever indicators matter most to you and lets you decide how much weight you want to give to each indicator.
For example, Maclean’s weights the Student/Faculty Ratio indicator at 10%. That means each university’s performance on this indicator contributes 10% to their final score. If you place a high value on access to your professors, you can weight this indicator at a higher percentage. You can customize a ranking based on this indicator and just two or three others but give 50% of the weight to Student/Faculty Ratio. Or you could choose this indicator along with up to six others, but still give Student/Faculty Ratio the heaviest weight. You decide.
How it works:
Select the performance indicators that most interest you. You can select up to seven at a time.
Then click NEXT.
Assign a weight to each of the indicators that you have chosen based on how much you want each to contribute to the final score. The total must add up to 100 per cent.
Then click NEXT.
Select the universities you wish to compare. You can choose all universities, or select by region, such as universities in the West, Ontario, Quebec or the Atlantic region. Or you can create your own list of up to 49 individual institutions.
Then click NEXT.
Our ranking tool will perform the calculations using the indicators, weights and schools that you have chosen. Voila! Your own personalized ranking of Canadian universities.
Note: Ranking for the Personalized University Ranking Tool is not calculated in the same way as the annual Maclean’s university rankings. Though the two use common data, the rankings use a statistical percentile method and are three separate rankings, one for each of the three categories of universities: Primarily Undergraduate, Comprehensive and Medical-Doctoral. As such, results obtained from this online tool may not agree with the Maclean’s annual rankings, even if the same set of weights are applied to the indicators.
Students never got nursing degrees they expected
Seventy former nursing students who attended Loyalist College in Belleville, Ont. in 1997 and 1998 have won their case against the school, reports the Belleville Intelligencer.
The college told students that they could earn a four-year degree from Queen’s University, but Queen’s decided not to offer such degrees and students never got those credentials. A judge decided that Loyalist breached its contractual obligations with students by not providing degrees. Loyalist must reimburse students’ legal costs and further compensation may yet be announced. Even then, the matter may not be over. Loyalist has filed a lawsuit against Queen’s.
Relative value varies by industry: study
Ever wondered whether an applied college degree or a traditional university degree will add more to your paycheque?
The answer depends on what industry you work in, according to a new study published by the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto. While university degrees generally offer a higher rate of return (as measured by increased earnings over people with only high school diplomas), there are some jobs where the college degree is worth more.
Not surprisingly, university rules in health care, senior management and in the legal field. In those industries, workers with university degrees make about 40 per cent more than those with no post-secondary credential, while college degrees bring only about 20 per cent more earning power.
But chefs and cooks, child-care workers and sales people who have college credentials have a roughly 20 per cent advantage over those with only high school, while those with university better their pay by only five to 10 per cent.
And in the trades, including construction and transportation, college credentials offer roughly a 20 per cent premium over high school alone while university adds only about five per cent.
What’s not considered in the study is the fact that there may be an advantage to earning a university degree and then adding a college credential. To read more about The College Advantage, click here.
Campus voting booths nixed
Elections Ontario announced on Friday that 27 college campus polls will be moving off campus because of the college support staff strike, making it harder for students to vote on Oct. 6.
The College Student Alliance expressed disappointment with the decision. “Student associations have been working on their campuses to help mobilize the student vote and engage the youth in this provincial election,” writes Brian Costantini, president of the CSA. “Historically this has been a demographic that has not fully participated elections. ” Campus polls were supposed to help.
Chief Electoral Officer Greg Essensa decided to relocate the polls because of “recent labour issues at Ontario’s colleges and the resultant uncertainly regarding the use of college facilities,” he told the Toronto Star. However, he said students will be informed of other places where they may vote.
Classes cancelled for 15,000 students
Instructors and staff at all campuses of the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology went on strike Tuesday, putting classes for 15,000 students on hold. But the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees’ Union will meet with a mediator this morning, reports CTV Saskatchewan. Before the strike, the union rejected an offer from the school that included a 5.5 per cent wage increase over three years.
Long lines and traffic jams from Toronto to Timmins
There are three-hour waits in line to register for courses at George Brown College in Toronto, reports the Toronto Star.
In Belleville, picketers at Loyalist College created a monster traffic jam that caused students and teachers to be late for class, reports the Intelligencer. The traffic jam also hindered regular citizens. One mother told the paper that the traffic jam made her four-year-old daughter more than an hour late for her first day of kindergarten.
A Seneca College, a student told the Toronto Star that his orientation was cancelled.
The disruptions are all due to picket lines created by 8,000 Ontario college support staff who went on strike at 24 schools on Sept. 1. The The Ontario Public Service Employees Union members work in bookstores, registration, financial aid offices, IT, janitorial, maintenance and more.
Warren “Smokey” Thomas, OPSEU President, told Maclean’s On Campus on Thursday that workers are striking to protect full-time jobs, because the colleges want to add more part-time employees. “I tell parents and students that we’re fighting for their futures,” he said.
The union has also asked for wage increases. Under the expiring collective agreement, employees who have worked full-time for more than one year are paid between $18.27 and $44.91 per hour. The College Employer Council’s last offer on August 31st included a 4.75 per cent wage increase, paid over three years, which would have put the average salary at just over $59,000.
Although students have faced delays and headaches at some schools, students at Fanshawe College in London told the London Free Press that there were no serious delays getting to campus on Tuesday. At Georgian College in Barrie, Algonquin College in Ottawa and St. Lawrence College in Brockville, local media also reported only minor delays on the first day of class.
What remains unclear is whether government loans will reach students later than usual. Chris Whitaker, president of St. Lawrence College, told The Canadian Press that managers at his school are working to get students’ Ontario Student Assistance Program loans distributed on time. But at Fleming College in Peterborough, all student loan appointments were cancelled this week.
Classes will continue. But students are confused.
Ontario Colleges say that classes will resume next week and students will be able to move into residences, despite the fact that 8,000 support workers went on strike at 12:01 last night.
Cleaners, food service workers, classroom schedulers, IT support workers and maintenance workers are among the Ontario Public Services Employees Union members who walked.
“It’s gonna look like hell here in two, three days,” Warren “Smokey” Thomas, President of OPSEU, told a crowd of dozens of picketers outside of George Brown College’s Chef School in Toronto around 8:30 a.m.
He said that workers are striking to protect full-time jobs because the colleges want to add more part-time employees. “I tell parents and students that we’re fighting for their futures,” he said. “How many people do you know with university degrees who are working retail?” he asked the crowd.
They have also asked for wage increases. Under the expiring collective agreement, employees who have worked full-time for more than one year are paid between $18.27 and $44.91 per hour.
The College Employer Council’s last offer on August 31st included a 4.8 per cent raise over three years, which would put the average salary at just over $59,000. The offer also included adding a one-year probation period for new employees and offering four-day work weeks for some.
Thomas said that colleges are flush with cash, as evidenced by raises given to college presidents. He said that if “Daddy Dalton,” referring to Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty, wants improve education, “he better put his money where his mouth is.”
“I have to pay my own way through college,” Brianne Dubeau, a second-year student at Fleming College in Peterborough, Ont., said over the phone from her workplace in Barrie after learning about the impending strike on Thursday. “It would have been nice to know what’s going on. If classes are going to be cancelled, I could stay here and work more shifts.”
As of Thursday, Dubeau hadn’t received any information from her school.
8,000 support staff could walk out Sept. 1
Ontario college students could get an extra-long summer break if support staff strike Sept. 1.
The contract for 8,000 Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) members will expire that day.
Rod Bemister, chair of the union’s bargaining team, warned in a press release on Friday that “students should be very aware that the start of the school year will be jeopardized as long as college management refuses to negotiate seriously.”
He said employees are working to protect the pay and benefits they have accrued in previous contracts. Under the expiring collective agreement, employees who had worked full-time for more than one year are paid between $18.27 and $44.91 per hour.
The College Employer Council, negotiating for management, hasn’t released a statement.*
The two sides will meet again Tuesday.
An earlier version incorrectly named Colleges Ontario as the management-side negotiators.
Students feel $22,000 tuition was wasted
George Dean, a graduate from Eastern College in Dartmouth, N.S. told the Chronicle Herald that he feels he has wasted two years of his life and $22,000 because he can’t apply for the type of job he planned to apply to when he signed up for the program.
The Nova Scotia Community Services Department, where he had hoped to work, recently informed students that their child and youth care credentials from the private college aren’t good enough to apply for jobs working with behaviourly-challenged children and youth.
The policy against hiring grads from private colleges has been in place since 2000, according to Janet Nearing, the province’s acting director of child welfare. But that it only applies only to 23 specialized facilities and that students may apply there after they gain some job experience, she said. There are more than 500 other childcare centres in the province where they are qualified to apply.
NDP accuses college of trying to influence premier
Georgian College president Brian Tamblyn has apologized for having expensed a $5,000 donation to the Ontario Liberals, which he billed the college for after a fundraising dinner in 2008, reports The Toronto Sun. New Democratic Party leader Andrea Horwath raised the issue in the provincial legislature Tuesday, accusing Tamblyn of trying to influence Premier Dalton McGuinty and Training, Colleges and Universities Minister John Milloy. Tamblyn says he wasn’t aware of his mistake until he received an Freedom of Information request about the money and denies trying to buy the government’s affection. ”All I can do is reimburse and that’s what I did,” he told reporters. “It was an innocent mistake.”
$400,000 ad campaign will see ads in newspapers, radio, and flyers sent to remote reserves
Colleges Ontario launched a $400,000 advertising campaign today to encourage aboriginal students to pursue a college diploma or certificate. With the tagline, “Break your Own Trail” Ontario’s community colleges will target aboriginals through posters, radio and newspaper ads and flyers sent directly to remote reserves only accessible by plane. Linda Franklin, president of Colleges Ontario said that finding ways to encourage groups underrepresented in post-secondary education will help address looming labour shortages. “We also want to make sure these under-represented groups achieve their full potential,” she said.
University inspired them to change the world. College gave them the tools to do it.
University graduates are tossing their mortarboards in the air, sliding their degrees into the filing cabinet—and then heading straight to college. In Ontario, applications for postgraduate diploma programs (which accept only university grads) have jumped 21 per cent since 2007. In Atlantic Canada and Western Canada, college programs that recruited high school grads a decade ago have become de facto postgrads with most applicants already holding degrees. Dianne Twombly, the manager of York University’s career centre, has noticed the trend on her campus, too, and she thinks she understands why. “As more and more students get bachelor’s degrees, postgrads are a way to distinguish yourself—a way to get an edge.” York has seen so much interest, it’s offering at least one postgrad workshop each month.
Aisling Nolan, a 27-year-old philosophy graduate of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., attended university and then college, rather than a master’s program. Her university degree helped her understand what she wants to do with her life—help people overseas. Once she knew that, she was ready for the one-year college certificate in international development from Humber College, because it promised practical skills and connections to put her plan into action.
The push to make grads more job-ready may be killing the liberal arts tradition
Ian Collins was almost a cliché. He finished a degree in visual arts at the University of Western Ontario and then spent four years waiting tables. “I was going in for job interviews, but I wouldn’t get the job,” explains the Toronto resident. The deal breaker? “It was always because someone else had real-world experience.” So Collins decided to enrol in a one-year diploma in sport and event marketing at George Brown College because, he says, it had a built-in internship. That led to a job after graduation, and now he’s an account executive at the marketing firm Zoom Media. At 31, Collins has his career on track. “College helped me by getting my foot in the door,” he says.
It’s no wonder students like Collins are looking to college for a different path. Despite the fact that Canada has the second-highest rate of education spending in proportion to our GDP, we’re nearly the worst of the 32 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries when it comes to placing grads in jobs they are qualified for. That’s especially hard to swallow considering the price of education today. With student debt load reaching a record high—nearly $27,000 for university students last year and about half that for college grads—more Canadians than ever before are considering college as a less expensive, more job-oriented alternative to the ivory towers.
Following the trend at universities, college presidents across the country are reporting increased enrolment since the recession. While Statistics Canada does not have recent numbers for the colleges, the Association of Canadian Community Colleges expects enrolment levels to be at an all-time high this year.
Converts like Collins are not the only ones praising the college alternative these days. Bill Green, chairman and CEO of the $21.6-billion consulting firm Accenture, is an outspoken advocate of community colleges. The greatest proof of his commitment: he convinced his 21-year-old son David to go to Dean, a community college in Massachusetts, instead of one of America’s elite private universities. “I believe many people who attend universities might be better served attending a community college to get started,” says Green, also a Dean graduate. “Colleges have been overlooked, undervalued and underappreciated for far too long.”
In the U.S., community colleges are seen as a panacea for the country’s economic woes: President Barack Obama and second lady Jill Biden held the first-ever White House summit on community colleges in October. International foundations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, also pledged millions of dollars to community colleges.
Even those on the inside of the ivory towers advise students to consider their options. Laura Penny, a professor at Mount Saint Vincent in Halifax and author of More Money Than Brains, an acerbic tome about higher education today, says university is too often seen as the default after high school. “People who want a broad experience or who are going to qualify for medicine, law or graduate degrees should go to university.”
Everyone else, she says, should look elsewhere. “I think a lot of people who go to university would be much happier in community college, and less indebted. Especially if what they are looking for is the credential for a job. A university degree does not guarantee a job.”
Ashley Pelletier took the college route after high school. Now, at 24, she has already landed a job as an associate at a big accounting firm in Toronto. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I was in high school, and going to college didn’t require all the specific courses that are required for university.” She applied to a variety of programs at Seneca College and settled on accounting.
There, she found small class sizes, helpful teachers and lots of guidance for her career. “You get to know your profs and all of them had relevant industry experience,” she explains. “University is totally theoretical, whereas the professors at college are more practical.” While in college, she worked at RBC Dexia, and then translated her accounting and ﬁnance diploma into an accounting degree at York University. She sees her three years at Seneca as a bridge to her career. “It was a long haul but I don’t think I would have done as well at university if I didn’t start at college.”
Pelletier’s experience—capping a college diploma with a university degree—is also indicative of the increasingly porous border between colleges and universities. Seneca College president David Agnew says colleges and universities used to have distinct purposes, but “now, that’s completely changed.”
Coming soon and you heard it here first
A friend of mine turned me on to a recent piece in the New Yorker on the state of higher education in America. The author is responding to the supposed crisis in the education sector and essentially debunking it. Now you’re welcome to review the article, written with the style and in the elevated prose that one would expect from such an esteemed publication, but the piece also rests on what I consider to be an unimaginably ignorant premise. The system must work, or so we should believe, simply because so many people are lining up for school. If the educational system were broken, people would presumably be opting out of it.
Now, bearing in mind that this article takes an American context, there’s already one huge problem. Many people are opting out of the public system down there. If one allows that education includes any kind of organized learning at all then sure, I suppose it’s easy to establish that lots of people are in favour of receiving that. But in America it is increasingly delivered by private or partly private institutions. So taking all forms of education and throwing them into one big pot only confirms one of the most basic facts about today’s modern society that everyone knew already. We all need to spend more time learning, and while we may have some choices over what and how we learn it’s hardly an option at all to simply opt out of education entirely.
More critically to the Canadian experience, this article also omits any real attempt to grapple with the ballooning cost of modern education and the resulting debt that often follows. And here is where I’ll introduce a concept that we all need to hear and think more about. It’s the idea of sub-prime education. Degrees that we are putting out on the market that are unlikely to pay off. Education that doesn’t actually create higher pay or better jobs or new opportunities. Sub-prime education.
The sub-prime mortgage crisis is often referenced but rarely understood. I’m not an economist but allow me to give a primer. American politics and American citizens bought widely and deeply into the narrative of home ownership. Home ownership was seen as the route to both private and public prosperity. So huge government programs were created to get as many people buying homes as possible and many citizens gladly mortgaged themselves to the hilt in order to buy as much property as they could possibly afford. And for a while it seemed to work. Unfortunately, many of the home loans put out there so that people could afford these mortgages were sub-prime. Prime is the rate at which a lending institution loans money to individuals it considers to be a good bet. Sub-prime is a higher rate, reflecting the fact that the lending institution considers the borrower to be a worse bet. Spread the risk over enough weak borrowers and the extra tax helps cover the occasional default. That’s the basic premise. It gets more complicated when banks start trading these loans and packaging them as investment vehicles, but that’s the basic premise.
What banks did not count on is that when the property market started to tank it created a cascade effect. Lack of faith caused the value of everyone’s investment to plummet. It’s a classic market bubble. When it bursts it drags everyone down. Only in the market you catch investors who, with adequately good sense, have protected themselves through diversification. When you catch homeowners you catch everyone. Ordinary people who put all their eggs in this one basket not because they are bad investors but simply because they bought into the narrative that home ownership is the route to prosperity. Time was that everyone believed that as an article of faith. No longer. But not until we had a whole lot of wreckage to teach us otherwise.
Now let’s look at education. In Canada, the floating rate of interest on the federal portion of a student loan is prime plus 2.5 per cent. That is, in the most literal terms imaginable, the very definition of “sub-prime.” Our government is publicly acknowledging that investment in education is a sub-prime lending risk. That doesn’t mean it never pays off. That doesn’t even mean it’s a bad bet for everyone. That just means that spread out over a wide sample group it simply isn’t a very good bet, on average. And private lending institutions aren’t even eager to participate at that rate. Contrast that with the rates that professional students can expect on their student loans if they go to private banks. For degrees in law and medicine — education that banks consider to be good bets — students can expect to access sizable loans at straight prime rate or at prime plus 0.5 per cent. That’s what it looks like when the market believes in the value of an investment.
As soon as I know what the CICIC does, you’ll know too
A couple of days ago I wrote a quick piece titled “No guidance for international students.” Shortly thereafter, Mr. Yves Beaudin, the National Coordinator for the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials (CICIC), showed up to correct me. I sent him some mail to suggest an interview and he’s accepted. As soon as something can be arranged we’ll have the results.
Here’s what I know now. The CICIC is primarily focused on supporting the recognition and portability of qualifications and educational credentials. It seems to work both ways–helping Canadians to navigate foreign systems and helping those foreign to Canada to navigate our domestic systems. And for that reason alone I’m already happy to promote them. This is a real need for all concerned and has been the subject of considerable attention. Apparently CICIC was conceived as a response to Canada’s obligations under a UN Convention on the subject. If you really want to read up on that you can do so here.
What I don’t yet know, and what I’m eager to find out, is whether or not CICIC is the answer to the other problems I was initially writing about. Credential assessment and recognition, while very important, is only one challenge for international students. As for the rest of it? Well, the jury’s still out.
I will say this much. The CICIC and Mr. Yves Beaudin are fast on the draw when it comes to their email. And I wouldn’t fault them for solving just one piece of the puzzle while the rest remains, if that turns out to be the case. But I guess we’ll all know soon enough. In the meanwhile, for international students who can’t wait, you can contact them here.
Coming to Canada, you’re pretty much on your own
I recently received yet another email from a concerned international student looking to study at a Canadian school. The details don’t really matter, but suffice it to say that this student dug up a year-old article of mine from On Campus about a lawsuit happening at this school but unrelated to his proposed program, and wanted to know if he should reconsider. And oh yeah, could I recommend another program that might be better for his purposes — anywhere in North America.
I get this sort of mail fairly regularly. While I’m usually able to say at least something useful, I’m always stumped by just how little international students know about post-secondary education in Canada. To begin with, for example, this fellow was looking at a college program. Does he know and appreciate the difference between “college” in Canada and “college” in the U.S.? He was, at least, looking at a reputable public college. But quite often international students get sucked into the (largely unregulated) private career college system. Seeing the difference between the two systems, from half a world away, must be darn near impossible. And all of that is before we even start to talk about money questions, visa issues, professional licensing, etc. It’s frustrating for me when I get so many questions I can’t answer, or where I can only scratch the surface of these issues, but I can’t blame international students for mailing me. They have few enough options.
Often, when we talk about Canada’s obligations to our international students, we seem to speak in terms of sharing the opportunities we enjoy here, creating jobs and scholarships, expanding work visas, and so on. But the truth is that many international students really do just come here to get their education and intend to return home with it. They are pursuing foreign credentials for any number of reasons, but most of them would be recognizable to any Canadian student. It’s a way for those who can afford it to combine travel with school. It’s an opportunity to prove or to polish fluency in English. It may be a gateway to an international career. It could simply be a way to distinguish one’s credentials from out of the pack of job applicants when the day comes. But really, any of these reasons are very similar to why a Canadian student might choose to study in France rather than Toronto.
The challenge of accommodating these students in our system is more one of information than resources. The resourcing decision, for good or for ill, was made some time ago. Aside from whatever merit-based scholarships may exist for the top cut of students, international students are expected to bear the full cost of their education in Canada. In some cases they may even supply positive revenue (what we would otherwise call profit) for the schools that host them. And this is a point of contention for some people, but it seems what’s most important at this stage is to ensure that students who are investing very significant sums of money here at least have the opportunity to invest wisely. And here’s where we fail.
I will observe that some individual schools are doing a pretty good job with international student services. I want to compliment those efforts. The issue I’m talking about, however, occurs before students commit to an individual school, and when they’ve decided to study in Canada but aren’t sure where they should start. Before these students commit to a school there’s very little available in the way of help, and if they commit to the wrong school or act on bad information it may be too late afterward. And of course there’s always the fact that sometimes these students need to be warned away or protected from the schools themselves, and in these cases we can hardly rely on internal services to do that.
For a student coming over from South Asia (or equivalent) it may well be the case that any destination in the country (or on the continent!) is equally convenient. What that student wants is a good education with good opportunities to follow. And there is simply no centralized resource to which that student can turn for information. Anything to fill this void would be a serious undertaking — probably one requiring cooperation between the federal government and the governments of the various provinces and territories — but considering how much money comes into Canada each year from foreign study and how important these markets are to our international identity, I’d argue it’s an important investment to make. Not to say we need to be in the business of actively marketing ourselves to foreign students. The strength of our system seems to speak for itself. But once we’ve decided to accept their enrolment and their tuition, you’d think we’d offer them more in the way of guidance to ensure they leave Canada with good memories and a positive experience, rather than feeling like they’ve been duped, neglected, or simply ignored.
Photo: Getty Images
It’s the encyclopedia of higher ed — Maclean’s Guide to Canadian Universities
This year marks the 15th anniversary edition of the Maclean’s Guide to Canadian Universities.Since 1996, the Guide has been providing information, advice and perspective for students as you prepare to make one of the most important decisions of your life: choosing the university that’s right for you.
A lot has changed on the post-secondary scene since that first Guide, but our mandate remains the same. With profiles of 69 universities—19 more than when we started—we report on the remarkable diversity on offer at schools across the country.
The Guide has a new look this year, helping readers focus on key components of each university: the campus, the programs, the extracurricular life and unique features of each school, as well as direct feedback from students themselves. You’ll get a sense of the look and feel of each campus. And while the Guide may not answer all your questions, it will start you thinking about what else you should be asking, and we tell you where you can go to find the answers.
Where will you be most comfortable? At a small liberal arts school in a town where everybody knows everyone? At a sprawling, intense university in one of the largest cities in the country? Or something in between?
Your range of choices—of universities and programs—has been expanding as well. Several university colleges and art colleges are now full-fledged universities. So are Algoma University—previously a Laurentian affiliate, and profiled in last year’s Guide for the first time—and Calgary’s Mount Royal University, which makes its first appearance in this year’s edition. One new option, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), opened in Oshawa, Ont., in 2003. And Canada got a new medical school, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, shared by Lakehead and Laurentian universities, in 2005.
Meanwhile, the original 50 schools profiled in the 1996 Guide have hardly sat still. Wilfrid Laurier University has doubled its student population and opened a second campus in Brantford, Ont. The University of Regina has invested in construction campuswide, more than doubling its physical capacity. Billions of dollars have poured into infrastructure across the country, resulting in campus construction sprees creating new research centres, libraries, labs, classrooms and residences—many built to environmentally friendly LEED standards. Alumni returning to their university hoping to check out old haunts will in many cases find their campus unrecognizable.
University enrolment, for full- and part-time students, has increased by about 29 per cent over the past 15 years, now standing at more than one million. Unfortunately, full-time faculty numbers during the same period have increased by roughly 17 per cent, resulting in growing class sizes at many campuses.
How students are studying has changed as well. Co-op programs and study-abroad options have increased significantly, as have graduate offerings, even at many of the primarily undergraduate universities. There is a growing emphasis on service learning and community involvement in many programs.
Back in 1996, Acadia University was a pioneer in integrating notebook computers into the undergraduate curriculum. Since then, technology has revolutionized the way classrooms function and how students interact with their profs all across the country. New courses have developed that few could have envisioned 15 years ago. If you’re interested in a master’s degree in computer game technology, Algoma offers one. Computer science students at the University of Saskatchewan can now take a course focusing on iPhone programming and apps development.
In 1996, the average tuition for universities profiled in the Guide was $2,400. This year, it stands at $5,200. Not surprisingly, about 60 per cent of undergraduate students graduate with debt, and today the average owed is roughly $25,000. As tuition soared, the Guide has included more information on how to cover the cost of an education, including details on grants and loans, figures comparing residence and rental costs, as well as an ever-expanding scholarship directory.
This year’s Guide has articles giving practical advice on careers, university admissions and dealing with some of the challenges campus life can throw your way. Also included: the 19th annual Maclean’s university rankings. We ranked 48 Canadian universities according to more than a dozen criteria ranging from resources, faculty quality, students and classes, to libraries, student support and reputation. In addition, the Guide has results from two major student surveys, revealing how tens of thousands of students feel about their educational experience.
Pursuing a university degree requires a large investment of time and money. At the same time, recent stats show that full-time workers with an undergraduate degree earn on average $20,000 more annually than those with only high school credentials. So in financial terms alone, a university degree is worth the effort, but it’s important to choose wisely and find the right fit for you. That’s why we offer you this Guide. We hope it sparks your imagination and excites you about all the many post-secondary options that await you.
The Guide is available in printed or electronic form. Want to see more? Click here.
In two major surveys, students get the chance to grade their own universities.
There are many ways by which a university can measure its performance, including asking those on the receiving end of an education—the students—what they think. In recent years, a growing number of universities have been doing exactly that. The following pages contain results from two major student surveys: the National Survey of Student Engagement and the Canadian University Survey Consortium—NSSE and CUSC for short. Between them, these surveys examine how involved students are in various academic and extracurricular activities, how satisfied they are with their university and its faculty, and how connected they feel to their school.
The findings show that while students are generally happy with their university education, there are key areas of discontent. In particular, a significant number of students feel they don’t fit in at their university, more often in the larger schools than the smaller ones.
Commissioned by the universities, the surveys ask more than 150 questions about the undergraduate experience—inside the classroom and beyond. The answers help each university assess the quality of its programs and services, which in turn can aid in the design and implementation of strategies to improve areas as indicated.
Recognizing that this data can also be useful for prospective students trying to decide which university is right for them, Maclean’s has been publishing CUSC and NSSE results each year since 2006. They provide direct feedback from students on the quality of their education and their general level of satisfaction.
The U.S.-based NSSE began in 1999 and is distributed to ﬁrst- and senior-year students. Administered by the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research, NSSE is not primarily a student satisfaction survey. Rather, it is a study of best educational practices and an assessment of the degree to which each university follows those practices. The survey pinpoints what students are doing while they are in school and on campus.
Research has shown that various forms of engagement are likely to lead to more learning and greater student success. And this link exists not only in the more obvious areas of academic endeavour, such as the number of books read and papers written, but also in curricular extras such as conducting research with a faculty member, community service, internships and studying abroad, as well as in extracurricular involvement with other students.
Students tell what they really think about their university, from the quality of their profs to whether they feel they get the runaround.
Here you will ﬁnd additional results from the Canadian University Survey Consortium (CUSC). The CUSC survey, which was commissioned by the universities, asks more than 100 questions about specific aspects of the undergraduate experience—inside the classroom and beyond—designed to provide universities with data to help them assess programs and services.
Each year, the survey targets one of three student populations: first-year students, graduating students and all undergrads. In 2009, 34 campuses took part, administering an online questionnaire to a random sample of approximately 1,000 graduating students at each university. Institutions with fewer than 1,000 graduating students surveyed them all. In total, more than 12,000 students took part for an overall response rate of 45 per cent.
Each chart lists the universities in descending order of achievement. Responses are ordered according to the percentage of survey participants who chose the highest level of satisfaction (e.g., “very satisfied”).