Laurier’s quality of education ranked high

In the Globe and Mail’s 2011 annual Canadian university report, a student survey-based collection of rankings and information on all Canadian universities, Wilfrid Laurier University received high marks in many categories along with some mixed results in others.

“These latest rankings show again that we’re very high in the quality of our education and very high in the quality of the overall student experience,” said Kevin Crowley, director of communications and public affairs at Laurier.

“We’re very good at some very specific programs and they mention a number of those,” he continued, pointing to Laurier’s Muslim studies program, financial mathematics and music therapy programs singled out in the report as of particular interest.

The university was ranked in the top-five nationally in quality of education in arts and humanities, sciences, health and business/commerce.

Dean of science Paul Jessop explained the significance of these sorts of results for Laurier. “It’s national recognition, recognition that’s finally coming about,” he said, noting that Laurier was ranked third nationally in the health and medicine category for its health sciences program. “That’s particularly gratifying because the health sciences program is only in its second year, we’ve yet to graduate any students.”

Simon Beck is the editor of the report, now in its ninth year. “No universities like being graded,” he said, mentioning also the MacLeans university rankings that are released during the winter semester. “What our survey has done is show what the students think of their university, it’s very important because they’re the customers, they pay a lot of money to attend.”

“Clearly universities use the results, if the results are good, in their marketing.”

While Laurier excelled in some areas, the university failed to rank or was towards the bottom of the list in “ease of course registration”, food services, libraries and technology.

“There’s always things we can improve upon,” Crowley said. “A lot of things are in the works in addressing that from the libraries side and there’s other things going on behind the scenes to improve these because the mark is fairly similar to previous years. I wouldn’t say there’s anything that’s a surprise there.”

Despite ranking high in many areas for quality of education, Laurier did not rank in the other major category used by the report, career preparation. Director of co-op and career development Jan Basso explained that the omission speaks to student evaluation of how their academic program is preparing them for the workforce and is not an indicator of resources available.

“I think what you would find is that the amount of programming we do and the targeted nature of our programming is greater than most institutions in this country.”

The report also asked questions about universities “personalities”, including the question of whether the student body is diverse or homogenous. Laurier ranked fourth among respondents in their opinion as being homogenous. “What is really being accounted for here?” asked student diversity co-ordinator Adam Lawrence. “What people see when they step out of a building?”

He commented on student perceptions of diversity on campus and suggested that some work can be done since the university was singled out in this area. “I think we might be getting caught up in the old reputation or the stereotype we have at Laurier without really looking at who is at Laurier.”

Crowley assessed the survey on the basis that it is based on student opinion. “It’s information coming right from the trenches; the primary customers of a university are students and we have to hear what they’re saying. On the other hand it’s opinion, but it’s important opinion.”

Laurier Report Card

Overall quality of education

Student/faculty interaction

Course availability/variety

Career preparation

Buildings and facilities