The Globe and Mail’s Canadian University Report’s profiles of more than 60 universities across the country give snapshots on many factors, from educational experience to the feel of the campus.
University Of Alberta
Edmonton (main), Calgary and Camrose
Situated on the North Saskatchewan River, U of A is close to Edmonton’s vibrant shopping district and farmers’ market.
Offering 500 graduate programs, 200 undergraduate programs and 450 student groups, the University of Alberta has something for everyone. The large school currently falls 96th on the QS World University Rankings system and is consistently placed within the top 100 for its forestry, English and economics programs. Last year, three of its students won prestigious Rhodes Scholarships to study at the University of Oxford.
This year, the university will host its third annual Falling Walls Lab event, one of 34 across the world where young innovators and entrepreneurs present their innovations to a jury from the university, government, industry and media. In 2014, University of Alberta student Nermeen Youssef placed second at the final in Berlin for his idea for a needle-free diabetes treatment.
Online (main) and Athabasca
Athabasca University is a completely online university that doesn’t follow a semester system, so students have the flexibility to work on their own time. Eighty-three per cent of AU students work while they study, and about one-third support family members financially.
With few entrance requirements and no minimum GPA required for acceptance, it makes postsecondary education accessible to anyone with a high-school diploma (70 per cent of Athabasca students are the first in their family to earn a university degree). The cost is no-frills: students pay on a per-course basis, and the price includes tutorial support and all necessary supplies.
Athabasca offers a range of degree and certificate programs, and in some cases the credits are transferrable to another university.
In June, 172 students graduated from Athabasca’s masters of business administration (MBA) and eight graduated with a doctorate in business administration. This year, graduates lived as far away as China and Nigeria.
University Of Calgary
With a 90-per-cent retention rate between first and second year, and a six-year graduation rate of 73 per cent, students at the University of Calgary demonstrate a strong commitment to their degrees.
(When they graduate, though, it’s with some of the highest levels of debt in the province, sitting at 108 per cent of the Alberta average.)
The school is heavily researchfocused, with 53 active research chairs and nearly $59-million awarded last year in major federal research grants.
This past year, researchers from UCalgary’s faculty of veterinary medicine have been working to better understand how strength challenges at the Calgary Stampede physically affect the draft horses that compete (pulling up to 5,000 kilograms in the Heavy Horse Pull).
The university library has a unique rare book collection, containing one of the first books ever published in English. The 521-year-old Polychronicon can be viewed by the public.
University Of Lethbridge
Lethbridge (main), Edmonton and Calgary
Located in Lethbridge, the secondlargest city in Southern Alberta, this is a smaller university that enrolls approximately 8,000 students. They report the highest levels of overall satisfaction with their university experience in the province, and 76 per cent of students graduate within six years.
The university has a range of undergraduate options, from indigenous health to computer sciences, as well as one of the few space science PhD programs in the country. In June, the university received a $500,000 grant from the Canadian Space Agency that will go toward the student-led development of instruments for SPICA, a space observatory expected to launch by the end of 2020.
MacEwan University, located in Edmonton, markets itself as a teaching-focused university. There are fewer research opportunities compared to neighbouring University of Alberta, but there’s an emphasis on intimate classroom experiences, with most classrooms seating between 10 and 50 students.
Fourth-year psychology and sociology student Danny Batraki says he chose MacEwan because of its “simplicity” and friendliness: “With MacEwan, everything was clearly laid out in person and online, and the school was small and hospitable. The people are all so kind, and the clubs are very closely grouped, so it feels like a family away from home.”
MacEwan is currently constructing a $181-million Centre for Arts and Culture. Set to open in fall 2017, the centre will house labs, classrooms, exhibits and performance venues.
Mount Royal University Calgary
Founded in 1910 as a private Methodist primary and secondary school, Mount Royal became a public college in 1966 and now operates as a university.
The school offers a wide range of programs, including child studies, midwifery and an indigenous science and technology program.
Mount Royal students graduate with the second-lowest levels of debt in the province.
Fourth-year business student Paul Shumlich was named Enactus Canada’s 2016 Student Entrepreneur Provincial Champion for Alberta. Mr. Shumlich’s business, Deepwater Farms, develops aquaponic technology to grow plants in water, rather than soil, so they can be harvested year-round.
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