Faculty of arts skews survey results on student experience

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In June, the faculty of arts sent out a survey to almost 11,000 arts alumni to get feedback on their experience at Laurier as part of the arts program as well as their experience post-graduation. Out of the 10,810 alumni asked to fill out the survey, 1,169 responses were received.  The faculty is highlighting that 78 per cent of respondents were either generally satisfied or extremely satisfied. However, the statistic is somewhat misleading.

As per the survey results, 34 per cent were “entirely satisfied” and 44 per cent were “generally satisfied.” Spinning those two numbers into a more attractive 78 per cent is understandable for a university trying to ensure its legacy, but useless for current and prospective students looking for genuine feedback.

In addition to the university’s repackaging of the percentages, the sample size is too small to be any real indication of student experience. Considering the amount of arts graduates every year, having 44 per cent “entirely satisfied” with their Laurier experience is hardly a ringing endorsement. A larger response pool would be needed for the feedback to be put to good use, and the university would have to be more realistic about its implications.

Michael Carroll, dean of the faculty of arts, highlighted that 98 per cent of respondents were employed. Again, this is a mere fraction of arts alumni, but even so, employment does not translate to meaningful employment. There was no indication of whether respondents were happily employed, working in a job related to their degree or whether their degree was completely irrelevant to what they were now doing.

It appears the university is unfairly using the survey results to push a narrative. They are using their pre-established narrative of a successful arts program to shape the results rather than allowing the results to inform the narrative.

The faculty of arts should be pleased with the results but mindful that employment is a serious concern for graduates as arts students remain in a struggle to prove employability. No survey results are going to address the problems associated with arts degrees; improving upon what the faculty offers is up to the university.
-The Cord Editorial Board

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