University students across the country had the opportunity to turn the tables on their schools with the release of the Globe and Mail’s annual Canadian University Report.
The report is a compilation of responses from Canadian university students who voluntarily filled out an online survey and rated their respective institutions.
Queen’s earned the most “A+” grades out of any school in the country in the survey. These were granted in areas including, quality of undergraduate experience, academic reputation and library facilities and services.
The grades were given based on information from 100 different categories such as quality of teaching, interactions with professors, quality of food services and class sizes, according to Globe and Mail Special Reports editor Simon Beck.
Beck said he feels as though the student centred methodology behind the Globe and Mail report provides prospective university students and parents with a crucial student perspective on the university experience which is often not taken into consideration.
“I think what we brought that wasn’t there before is actually analysing [what] current undergraduates have to say, so you’re hearing from the customers themselves. This previously was not really recognized as a factor when people were choosing schools; they just basically went on the statistics,” he said.
“With our survey you can find out how students think about their residences or what they think of their food and all these factors that I think are very important in choosing a university. It’s not just ‘Will I get a good degree?” or ‘What is this school’s reputation for engineering?’ It’s ‘Am I going to be happy when I’m there?’ I think that our survey really helps people make some assessment of that.”
Beck said the Canadian university climate has changed dramatically since the first report card was released, seven years ago.
“One thing that’s changed a lot is technology,” he said. “The classrooms of today and the campuses of today are radically different than they were seven years ago because of things such as the use of e-mail. The fact that professors, even if they’re not that available in the class, it seems to me professors understand that they have to answer to e-mails. A lot of teachers are putting their lectures up on podcasts so if you missed something or didn’t understand it you can look at it later. Those kinds of technologies in the classroom are really, probably improving the quality of teaching especially in the bigger schools.”
The recent rise in campus activism has contributed to a more environmentally conscious university experience for students across the county, Beck said.
“I would say that probably over the past two years, the universities have begun to realize that if they’re not considered to be eco friendly that could actually affect their applications. I do believe that there are students who would only consider applying to universities that they consider to have a good environmental record.”
Vice-Principal (Academic) Patrick Deane said the categories where Queen’s scored lowest, such as athletics and recreation, will take care of themselves in the coming years as the Queen’s Centre develops.
“The students, by their pledge for the Queen’s Centre have indicated their willingness to be part of the remedy of that problem,” he said. “When the Phase I of the Queen’s Centre opens next fall, we’ll begin to see some very dramatic changes in the scores we’ve historically received.”
Deane said in addition to working on improving categories where Queen’s scored the lowest, the University will work to maintain standards in the categories where they excelled.
“In the other categories, an important thing will be to look at positive results and then to examine what we do and what we’re contemplating doing as the budget situation at the University develops and take care to put in place to protect these things, even while under financial pressure,” he said.
“It’s not enough to be self-satisfied, we need to look at where we’re doing well and protect it.”
—With files from Jane Switzer
To see the results of the university report card, go to globecampus.ca
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