Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs 519 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

March 22, 2007

U of G Earns High Marks for Undergraduate Experience

When it comes to the quality of the undergraduate experience, the University of Guelph remains at the top of its class, according to national survey results released today by Maclean’s.

The magazine published some of the scores of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) in this week’s issue. Some 60,000 first-year and final-year students in the United States and Canada were asked more than 100 questions about specific aspects of their undergraduate experience.

Thirty-one Canadian universities took part in NSSE in 2006, and Maclean’s published a sampling of the results. Overall, senior students were more critical than first-year students in rating their schools, the magazine said. In addition, smaller schools tended to be rated higher than larger schools.

But U of G was one of the exceptions, Maclean’s said. It was among a handful of larger, research-intensive Canadian schools that received top marks from both senior and first-year students.

For example, Guelph captured the No. 1 spot in the percentage of senior students who said they would attend the same university if they could start all over again. Among first-year students asked the same question, U of G ranked third.

Guelph placed second among all universities in the percentage of senior students who rated their educational experience as “excellent,” and fourth in the first-year evaluation.

“The results speak strongly to the unique learning environment at Guelph,” said president Alastair Summerlee.

Summerlee added that although Guelph is pleased with its performance in NSSE, the University does not support using the survey’s results for university rankings, as that was never its intent. “NSSE is just one of a suite of tools Guelph uses to gauge institutional performance and accountability,” he said.

The premise of the NSSE survey comes from work in the United States, where it’s been shown that the level of student engagement at a university is directly related to the quality and depth of the learning achieved.

One of NSSE’s important features is that it gives U of G the ability to compare its level of student engagement with benchmark institutions in the United States, Summerlee added. Guelph was among a small number of Canadian universities that performed better than their American counterparts.

“The Ontario government is constantly seeking independent proof of the quality of the learning experience, and the survey results certainly speak for themselves,” Summerlee said.

“The publication of the survey’s findings is also very timely, given that the province is releasing its budget Thursday and we are looking for increased support for higher education.” Currently, Ontario ranks last among the country’s 10 provinces in per-student spending.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Deirdre Healey, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982.

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