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 British Columbia
Vancouver and Okanagan campuses
With an average entrance GPA of 88 per cent, University of British Columbia students continually set the bar high when it comes to academic achievement. They may come for the school’s international prestige; UBC is ranked 50th on the QS World University Rankings. They may come for the research dollars that UBC attracts: With $190-million granted for research last year, it beats others in the province by a landslide.
A UBC-pioneered robot lab is preparing students for a future where robots are part of our everyday lives. Run by robotics expert and associate dean Elizabeth Croft, the lab has researchers from disciplines including ethics, law and machinery come to explore possibilities – from driverless cars to avatars – and their impacts.
Capilano UniversityNorth Vancouver (main) and Sechelt
Capilano University’s small campus marks the edge of a beautiful oldgrowth forest in North Vancouver, just a short commute from the city’s centre. The former college became an applied university in 2008 and has a strong focus on certificate and diploma programs. Cap U calls itself a teaching university, which means it specializes in personalized learning, with an average class size of 26 students.
Cap U’s graduation rate sits at a low 23 per cent. Students average less debt than most students in British Columbia, perhaps in part due to its annual tuition sitting about $1,000 below the provincial average.
This year, Cap U made the news when it cancelled its popular Community Music School after 35 years in operation. Offered through the university’s Continuing Education program, the school offered a variety of non-credit music classes to the general public and each year served more than 250 people, mainly children. The school closure is a decision intended to allow the university to expand forcredit university programs such as jazz and musical theatre.
Emily Carr University Of Art + Design
Emily Carr University of Art + Design’s main campus currently sits amidst galleries, markets and yoga studios on Vancouver’s Granville Island, and the school has recently opened a new campus, dubbed “The Big Idea,” in the city’s False Creek area. ECUAD is internationally recognized, having made its debut in the QS World University Rankings system in 2015. The school has many partnerships with acclaimed organizations, including the David Suzuki Foundation, TED Talks, car2go and TRIUMF (Canada’s national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics and acceleratorbased science). These partnerships allow students to think broadly about their arts and design skills and apply them to many different fields.
ECUAD student Fabyan Blomme, for example, recently showcased his coffee grip design at the 2016 Dubai Design Week’s Global Grad Show. Created as a solution to the challenges faced by seniors with unsteady grips, “MountainRim” coffee sleeves are aesthetically pleasing and easy to grasp.
University Of The Fraser Valley
Abbotsford (main), Chilliwack, Mission and Hope
The University of Fraser Valley campuses are located across several Fraser Valley communities. It is known for its flexible admissions policy; students can tailor programs to their own interests and can achieve certifications while working toward a full degree.
A UFV land-based pilot program is working to support the mental health and resiliency of indigenous youth. In partnership with the Seabird Island Band and the Stó:l Nation (both located in the Fraser Valley), the project aims to build indigenous youth’s connections to the land through relationships with elders and outdoor excursions. The project, which received a $99,000 grant from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research’s Pathways to Health Equity for Aboriginal Peoples initiative, seeks to reduce indigenous youth suicide rates in the province and create a resiliency strategy that can be adapted for other communities.
Graduating UFV students report high satisfaction, rating their overall educational experience above the provincial average. Sixty-three per cent of UFV students graduate from their programs, but 94 per cent of those are employed in their field two years after graduation.
Kwantlen Polytechnic University
Surrey (main), Richmond, Langley and Cloverdale
Tuition: $3,184 (Kwantlen defines full-time as nine credits per semester or more)
Nearly 15,000 students are spread across Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s campuses in Surrey, Richmond, Langley and Cloverdale.
Having transitioned from a college to a university in 2008, the school still offers a wide range of programs, from arts and business to horticulture, carpentry and welding.
The latest buzz at KPU this year is the launch of a new commercial beekeeping program, the first of its kind in the province. After 11 months of theoretical and practical training, beekeeping students will leave with the abilities necessary to manage up to 300 bee colonies, providing them the potential to make beekeeping a career, not just a hobby.
KPU’s fifth campus space is currently under construction in Surrey’s downtown core. Set for completion in November 2016, the three-storey site is aimed at becoming a hub for professional development and innovation.
University Of Northern British Columbia
Prince George (main), Fort St. John, Terrace, Gitwinksihlkw and Quesnel
Opened in 1990, the University of Northern British Columbia was formed thanks to a group of local residents who spent three years planning, organizing and petitioning the provincial government for the creation of their own university.
Today, UNBC serves mostly local students, with 68 per cent coming from Northern B.C., 15 per cent from Southern B.C. and 17 per cent coming from elsewhere.
Graduating students rate their entire educational experience slightly above the provincial average.
For a small university, UNBC dedicates a high percentage of its budget to research and library services.
The school prides itself on its green reputation, and in 2015 it officially became a fair trade campus, meaning that all products sold and consumed on campus meet fair trade regulation standards. UNBC made headlines last December when former federal Industry Minister (and UNBC alumnus) James Moore was appointed as the university’s chancellor. Mr. Moore was criticized for his role in the Conservative government’s controversial policies, including the muzzling of scientists. More than 1,700 students, staff and members of the public signed a petition to revoke his appointment, but in February UNBC’s board of governors ruled to keep Mr. Moore in the position.
Tuition: $32,500 Students: 700
Founded in 2002 and opened with a 73-student inaugural class in 2007, Quest is Canada’s first private, secular, non-profit university. Quest offers only one degree, a bachelor of arts and sciences, and it offers course work through alternative teaching methods.
Tuition at the university is a staggering $32,500, though students graduate with debt averaging only slightly higher than the provincial average. What can the price get you? Classes no larger than 20 students, a 12-to-1 student-tofaculty ratio and mountain views in Squamish, labelled the outdoor recreation capital of Canada.
For the first two years of their degree, students take interdisciplinary courses focused on critical thinking. In the final two years, they design their own learning experience around a central question they choose themselves, for example, “How can we ensure effective and responsible health care?” or “What is the relationship between symmetry and beauty?” Students structure their studies in what Quest calls the “block plan,” a course structure where students take one 3.5-week course at a time.
In April, TD Bank provided Quest with a $100,000 boost to its artist-in-residence program, which will allow the school to invite more artists to participate in the program.
Royal Roads University
Because the school has the secondhighest tuition in the province and a very small percentage of its operating budget going to financial aid, attending Royal Roads University is a pricey choice.
The university markets itself as a professional development investment. By providing many applied and professional courses – rather than general degree programs – Royal Roads aims to prepare students for British Columbia’s job market with hands-on programs focused on specific career goals.
Royal Roads graduates 80 per cent of its students within six years (B.C.’s standard measure) – a much higher proportion than most other universities in the province.
Simon Fraser University
Because Simon Fraser is just a short bus or car drive away from Vancouver, most students make the daily commute to the Burnaby campus. With an average entrance GPA of 88 per cent, SFU students stand out academically – particularly in the geography program, which is ranked one of the best in the world. SFU has more than 100 undergraduate programs and 45 graduate programs, offering students flexibility through distance education, night classes and weekend options.
On June 2, SFU alumna Marina Elliott was named a 2016 National Geographic Emerging Explorer. Dr. Elliott, who graduated from SFU in 2015 with a PhD in biological anthropology, gained renown for squeezing herself through an 18-cm-wide cave entrance to excavate fossils in Africa – an excavation that led to the discovery of what some consider to be a new species of human, Homo naledi.
Despite student success, graduating student satisfaction is lower than the provincial average.
Thompson Rivers University
Kamloops (main) and Williams Lake
Students at Thompson Rivers University’s main campus study overlooking the junction of the North Thompson and South Thompson rivers, but the school also has a Williams Lake campus, a number of regional centres and 11,000 distance students who attend classes online.
With an open learning policy, TRU students are admitted not only based on GPA, but also on their work and life experience and the language skills or certifications they bring to the table.
Although 70 per cent of students stay enrolled between first and second year, a low 27 per cent of students graduate within a six-year period.
In 2016, Thompson Rivers launched a course all about surfing as part of the school’s adventure tourism department. Students spend half their time on campus, learning the theory behind the sport and methods to teach it and the other half hitting the waves.
Vancouver Island University
Nanaimo (main), Duncan, Parksville and Powell River
Most students at this Nanaimo school don’t come from afar – either calling Vancouver Island or the Lower Mainland/Mainland Coast home. Surrounded by forests, ocean and a three-hour drive to Tofino, VIU is known to be a school full of outdoorsy folk: the typical student will spend her spare time rock climbing, kayaking or hiking in the rain forest.
The school offers a wide range of credentialing options, allowing students to study programs ranging from a master’s in business management to a heavy equipment operator certificate. Sixty per cent of students graduate from VIU, rating their overall educational experiences above the provincial average.
VIU has a mandate to support indigenous students (1,494 students identify as such, a higher proportion than most other universities).
It offers six full (five-year) tuition awards totalling $135,000, as well as 24 other scholarships and bursaries for indigenous students.
The campus has 18 indigenous staff and faculty, and 12 elders-inresidence, who keep open office hours and consult on course material.
University Of Victoria
Located in British Columbia’s “garden city,” the University of Victoria’s mid-sized campus is home to nearly 22,000 students.
UVic is known for its health sciences program, as well as for its oceans and climate studies.
The university boasts the third-largest research budget in B.C. and focuses heavily on co-op programs. Since 2003, eight UVic students have been awarded the TD Scholarship for Community Leadership, the second-highest number in the province. The scholarships provide up to $10,000 each year toward tuition, living costs, and employment or co-op opportunities for graduating highschool students making differences in their communities.
In May, UVic chemist Alexandre Brolo was awarded $50,000 to further develop and test a low-cost screening device that can identify the presence of the mosquitotransmitted Zika virus, which has been reported in Africa, Asia, French Polynesia, South America and areas of North America.
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