Macleans Report: Students rank universities

I initially posted the results of the 2009 “Grading our Schools” Macleans report on February 23rd. Given its relevance at this time of year — for making future plans — I thought I would re-post it today.

The results definitely suggest that, nowadays, university students prefer the smaller, more intimate institutions, that can offer not only challenging academic programs, but opportunities for interaction between professors, students and TA’s (teaching assistants), and supportive campus environments.

In analyzing the report, I should point out that the survey results differentiate between a first year student’s responses and those in their senior undergraduate year — with the the latter criteria used for the rankings. For convenience, I have only listed the top ten in each category plus the web links.

Level of Academic Challenge:

  1. UOIT (Ontario)
  2. Mount Allison (New Brunswick)
  3. Royal Roads (B.C.)
  4. Trent (Ontario)
  5. Trinity Western (B.C.)
  6. Huron (Western) (Ontario)
  7. King’s (Nova Scotia)
  8. St. Thomas (New Brunswick)
  9. Nipissing (Ontario)
  10. Queen’s (Ontario)

Student-Faculty Interaction:

  1. Mount Allison (New Brunswick)
  2. Vancouver Island (B.C.)
  3. Huron (Western) (Ontario)
  4. Trinity Western (B.C.)
  5. Acadia (Nova Scotia)
  6. Thompson Rivers (B.C.)
  7. UOIT (Ontario)
  8. Nipissing (Ontario)
  9. King’s (Nova Scotia)
  10. NSAC (Nova Scotia)

Active and Collaborative Learning:

  1. Royal Roads (B.C.)
  2. UOIT (Ontario)
  3. Vancouver Island (B.C.)
  4. Brescia (Western) (Ontario)
  5. Nipissing (Ontario)
  6. Thompson Rivers (B.C.)
  7. Mount Allison (New Brunswick)
  8. Acadia (Nova Scotia)
  9. Ryerson (Ontario)
  10. Brock (Ontario)

Enriching Educational Experiences:

  1. Trinity Western (B.C.)
  2. UOIT (Ontario)
  3. Mount Allison (New Brunswick)
  4. Queen’s (Ontario)
  5. Acadia (Nova Scotia)
  6. King’s (Nova Scotia)
  7. Huron (Western) (Ontario)
  8. McGill (Quebec)
  9. McMaster (Ontario)
  10. Vancouver Island (B.C.)

Supportive Campus Environment:

  1. Huron (Western) (Ontario)
  2. Trinity Western (B.C.)
  3. Brescia (Western) (Ontario)
  4. Nipissing (Ontario)
  5. Mount Allison (New Brunswick)
  6. NSAC (Nova Scotia)
  7. Vancouver Island (B.C.)
  8. Acadia (Nova Scotia)
  9. Royal Roads (B.C.)
  10. King’s (Western) (Ontario)

In analyzing these top-ten rankings in the five categories, what readers will notice is that many of the same institutions come up time after time. For example, Mount Allison came up in every single category and UOIT, Trinity Western, Nipissing and Acadia came up in four of the five. (Acadia added. H/T MJB.)

As a result, the rankings should be very helpful to high school students thinking about where they might want to apply for next year, current university and college students who may want to transfer to another institution, and parents who want to support their children in the decision-making process.

Obviously, there is more that goes into a final decision about where to attend university or college then where the institution ranked in these surveys — such as closeness to home, availability of a specific program and the cost to attend. However, that said, they are excellent indicators.

Details of the Study: There were two major surveys — the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and the Canadian University Survey Consortium (CUSC) commissioned by the universities themselves. Ninety thousands students at 53 institutions and their various campuses were presented with 150 questions about the undergraduate experience, inside the classroom and beyond. (Macleans, Volume 122, No. 5, p. 33).

8 thoughts on “Macleans Report: Students rank universities

  1. And not a prairie school in the bunch!

    BC has started to certify “university” programs at smaller or tech type schools. The main large universities are “so large” now that I feel they lose some of their allure unless the student is very particular about their faculty education (ie: specialty engineering, nursing). A general studies student from out of area is lost unless they are in residence or some other “social group” situation.

    I like the small school concept and if I was looking to again go to university I would choose something like Thompson Rivers – nice campus, great location, vibrant “sports minded” city (Kamloops).


  2. Well Mary T — If you look at the full list, it is down in the middle or towards the bottom somewhere. Next year I’ll get it’s right off the list.


  3. It is great to see Acadia listed in 4 categories. It is a truly wonderful university set in the beautiful small town of Wolfville, NS, the kind of campus where students can get to know one another and develop a sense of family.

    I graduated from Acadia in 1968, 1969, and 1971, so I guess I might be prejudiced!


  4. OT, sort of. Today on page A1 of the Lethbridge Herald there is a story,
    WAR OF WORDS, Librarians, readers fighting back against book bans.
    There is a list of many books that have been banned from libraries and universities, because someone didn’t like what the story was.
    Librarians and readers are fighting back by holding Freedom to Read events across Canada.
    I remember the newreels at the movies years ago, showing books being burned in public. How long has this ban been going on. Some of the titles and authors are surprising, Mark Twain, Margaret Atwood, and many others.
    What is going on.


  5. Mary T — I have heard of book bans from time to time, but my bet it is political correctness now — particularly Mark Twain’s work. For example, Wikipedia talks about how the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn have been restricted from schools across the U.S. for years because Twain uses the word “nigger” a lot. I would think that using the book and then talking about what was wrong with that word would be useful, but perhaps it would only encourage some students to use it.

    Re Atwood, she has some books which are sexually explicit such as the Handmaiden’s Tale — which I wouldn’t want my teenage daughter to read just yet.

    I’ll take a look at the LH online and see what I can find out.


  6. Thanks Sandy, with no kids in school for a few years, and none in university
    (trades called them all) I really didn’t know about these bans. So far my favorite authors are not on the list, but for how long.


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