Brandon University remains the best university in Canada for students who want to get to know their professors, according to Maclean’s magazine, with an outstanding 12 students per faculty member, and impressively low class sizes, especially in third- and fourth-year classes.
“Students who choose Brandon University tell us they are attracted to our supportive, welcoming environment, and small classes are a big part of that,” said Interim BU President Dr. Steve Robinson. “Our investments in a personalized education help students truly engage with their learning, both inside and outside of the classroom.”
Brandon University’s excellent student-faculty ratio and small class sizes, combined with strong showings by faculty researchers and BU’s robust funding for student supports, have helped improve the university’s placement in the annual rankings of Canadian universities, which were released today. Overall, BU has moved up one spot and now sits at 16th place in the primarily undergraduate category.
“While rankings are always somewhat subjective, it is gratifying to see that Brandon University is doing many things right, and we are investing in areas where we can continue to improve,” Dr. Robinson said. “We track our own performance regularly, but surveys like these help us to identify trends across the country, and we value the annual opportunity to pause and take stock.”
In several measures of research, BU performed very well among its primarily undergraduate counterparts, sitting at 6th nationally for social sciences and humanities research grants as well as 7th nationally for citations of scholarly work.
“We are extremely proud that the research efforts of our talented and ambitious faculty have been recognized in this year’s rankings,” said Acting VP (Academic & Provost) Dr. Meir Serfaty. “We have had tremendous recent success in attracting new grants for research here at BU and of course, one of the benefits of our small size is that so many students will benefit from these opportunities by taking part in research opportunities that may not be available to them at larger universities.”
This year’s Maclean’s rankings also singled out Brandon University’s support for its library and for student services as among the best in Canada.
“Today’s libraries are much more than reading rooms, and we continue to invest in the John E. Robbins Library to ensure it is a modern space on campus for learning of all kinds,” Dr. Robinson said. “Along with providing ample space for traditional studying and reference, our library is a spacious and welcoming environment for learning events, for art, and for displays.”
While BU’s commitment to student services was ranked highly by Maclean’s, responses to their student satisfaction surveys show there is still room for improvement.
“Students tell us they are looking for quality academic supports, vibrant student life, opportunities for experiential learning and forceful action against sexualized violence — all areas that we are investing in,” Dr. Serfaty said. “We have a new co-operative learning coordinator and a dedicated sexualized violence prevention coordinator, and we have new policies in place that are both compassionate and proactive. We are rolling out new and expanded academic support programs to improve retention. We have recently improved our residences, and we have ambitious projects in the works for new-style student residences.”
In other areas, such as the number of students admitted with grades less than 70%, a low Maclean’s rankings indicate a difference of philosophy.
“Brandon University has an open admissions policy because we know that education can benefit everyone. Our affordability and outreach to non-traditional student populations brings us a diverse and inclusive community that is a real strength,” Dr. Serfaty said. “With vigorous growth again this year, especially in first-year enrolments, students continue to choose Brandon University for the opportunities we offer.”
High first-year enrolment may also affect BU’s ranking. Because there is no way to track student migration between institutions, local students who choose to stay close to home for the first few years of their education before completing their degree elsewhere count against BU’s retention and graduation rates.
“While we at Brandon University continually evaluate our programs, and provide a wide range of academic choices for our students, we realize that we cannot possibly meet everyone’s needs. Some students may find that a university education is not for them, while some may choose to continue their education elsewhere for personal or professional reasons,” Dr. Serfaty said. “In our pre-professional programs, for example, Brandon University provides an excellent and affordable foundation for specialized degrees elsewhere. Although we work to keep a larger proportion of our first and second year students with us until graduation, we respect students’ choices and encourage their success wherever they may pursue their education.”
With ongoing sustainable growth in enrolment, an ambitious downtown development initiative, and a new Campus Master Plan to guide the next few decades, Brandon University is poised for continued success.
“It is important that Brandon University students, staff, faculty and alumni are proud of their connection to BU, and all Canadians should be proud of the exceptional quality of post-secondary education that is available from coast-to-coast,” Dr. Robinson said. “As we celebrate our 50th year of providing Brandon University degrees, we continue to invest in the needs of our community, and what matters most to us are the connections we forge right here in Brandon, in Westman, and throughout Manitoba.”
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