Laurier voted number one Canadian university in student satisfaction for fourth year in a row

Photo by Darien Funk

For a fourth year in a row, Wilfrid Laurier University has been ranked number one in student satisfaction in the Maclean’s magazine rankings of Canadian universities, as well as the categories of course instructors, student life staff, extracurricular activities, residence Living, and administrative staff.   Laurier also ranked second in academic advising as well as experiential learning.

“I think the first thing overall is that you’ve got to have a vision of who you want to be, personally and same for your university and Laurier has an intentional aspiration to be who they are and the rankings are something that affirms that from the most important dimension of Laurier and that’s the students,” said David McMurray, vice president of student affairs at Laurier.

“If the students love Laurier and stay golden, then the rewards associated with that are tremendous. Whether that’s their academic degree which is the number one reason why they are here or at any school, it’s so much more than that here. I’ve been a proponent of this since I was a student here and my whole life working in student affairs.”

In the “comprehensive” university category, Laurier holds the number six spot among the 15 schools in the category. Laurier also ranks third in student services and in the top five for faculty awards and social sciences and humanities grants.

“It is holistic, when people ask what that means it’s academic excellence as well as commitment to development, their experiences in and beyond the classroom. We work really hard at that, the brand “Inspiring Lives”, the word lives itself means everything you do in your life and who you are, what you’re going to become and your impact on the world,” McMurray said.

“Laurier students, in my experience, there’s this very special culture that attracts students of that kind, students who want an excellent degree but also want to learn and grow as an individual, being highly regarded along the way. You look at those categories, how they’re treated by staff, experiences in residence, course instruction.”

With many extra-curricular opportunities ranging from faculty specific clubs, sports teams, research groups, residence life and ambassador programs among others, many students have chosen Laurier for the small, community feel and continue to feel welcome on campus which increases their satisfaction in their choice.

There are all kind of challenges universities have with resources, but we’re planning ahead in every possible unit that we have. It’s all about wellness, that’s not new, but how we continue to advance the successes that have taken place in terms of student success, you constantly strive for improvement.

— David McMurray, vice president of student affairs at Laurier

“Laurier is all about making a commitment to each and every student that’s here. You can never be perfect, but four years in a row is a strong indication that you’re doing things well. It’s hard to be number one and stay there, doing thing on purpose you have to look ahead and that’s what we’re doing right now in looking into future readiness,” McMurray said. 

“When I look at those rankings and I look at other campuses, it makes me wonder about students who aren’t pleased with their experience and why the same response isn’t present here. There are all kind of challenges universities have with resources, but we’re planning ahead in every possible unit that we have. It’s all about wellness, that’s not new, but how we continue to advance the successes that have taken place in terms of student success, you constantly strive for improvement.” 

Laurier has also ranked number one in other rankings including being the number one sustainable campus in Ontario, as well as one of the top accounting schools in the country.

“Students should take interest in themselves, their intellectual opportunities, looking at personal and developmental aspects. Student-athletes will tell you that being a student-athlete is an incredible part of their life, they still have to go to school, and they graduate at extremely high levels,” McMurray said.

“Look at someone who’s associated with music, someone who wants to be an entrepreneur and wants to do something different, they can flourish here, choosing Laurier can provide all of that but the most important aspect is the fit and finding your way, that’s why we continually rank highly in student satisfaction. There’s no surprises, you know about Laurier before you get here.”

The University of Guelph was just behind Laurier in the rankings of student satisfaction coming in at number two, while Carleton University was ranked third, with Brock University taking the fourth spot.

“Students often discover who they are once they get here, they have a wonderful sense of the campus and how friendly it is, they have no idea what they want to do but they choose a program, they belong to a club, then suddenly the excitement of discovery and finding out those things comes in, experiential learning is something we’ve expanded in so many courses and opportunities,” McMurray said.

“We want students to excel academically, but belonging to something you feel is a great cause ore excites you beyond your academic pursuits, think of what that might look like for the rest of your life. Hopefully, you’ll be involved in making the world a better place and I think there’s a lot of Laurier in that aspiration.” 

Laurier’s alumni association is comprised of over 100,000 graduates from the school, not only showcasing the success of Laurier while one is a current student at the school but shows that the breadth of student satisfaction reaches far beyond inside the classroom and many students want to give back to a school they feel gave to them.

“I’ve been in this job my whole life, I love it because every morning there’s something new and exciting that impacts students. It’s usually positive, but if it’s not we roll our sleeves up to fix it. If students are ranking the student life staff number one, that tells me that everybody else is trying hard to provide for students too,” McMurray said.

“I am deeply grateful to our students for expressing how they feel about Laurier, it just makes my life around here. When I see it happening, when I read it or hear about it, it happens often because Laurier students aren’t shy and I see this “Stay Golden” identity that’s developed, it’s awesome.”

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