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October 27, 2017 8:35 pm

UNBC Retains Number 1 Maclean’s Ranking

Wednesday, October 26, 2016 @ 3:15 PM

Prince George, B.C. – Great news for UNBC.UNBC1

The school learned today it has retained its number one ranking for the second consecutive year as the top undergraduate university in the country according to Maclean’s magazine.

“It’s fantastic, what a great day,” says UNBC president Dr. Daniel Weeks. “It really speaks to the absolute heart of what UNBC is all about – it’s our community and it’s our faculty, our staff, our professors, our alumni, all of our supports. That’s what comes together to make UNBC such a great university.”

There were 19 schools in Maclean’s undergraduate category and they were ranked in a variety of areas on a wide range of issues.

So where did UNBC stand out?

“Where we saw absolutely a tremendous change was in the various rankings that fall into the category of student satisfaction,” says Weeks.

“In mental health services we jumped from number four last year to number one this year. Resident living – last year we were number 16 and this year number 9. And I’m so proud of our staff – last year we ranked 12th and this year we’re number 2.”

He admits the top ranking doesn’t hurt when you’re trying to recruit new students either.

“Absolutely, and our enrolment is up a little bit this year (3.9% or 127 students). I think a large part of that will be attributable to our ranking last year. Students have a lot of choice – they can pretty much go wherever they want.”

Finishing right behind UNBC in the Primarily Undergraduate category was Mount Allison followed by the University of Lethbridge. SFU finished first in the Comprehensive list and McGill maintained its top ranking in the Medical Doctoral category.


Now lets get some courses offered that attract different students like Kinesiology and similar programs. That will also entice high level sports minded students who now select southern schools.

I presume that the 127 student increase has not been calculated to Full Time Equivalent students, but rather the number of additional students registered for various courses.

Would be interesting to see what the Full Time Equivalent numbers are for 2016/2017.

Congratulations UNBC for retaining your number one ranking as the top undergraduate university in the country!

Funny how a MacLean’s magazine survey like this is never questioned, but when this same magazine prints a study where the city of Prince George is ranked the most dangerous city in Canada, almost everyone here, including Mayor and Council at the time, loses their mind , and attempts to discredit the study.

    Seems to be a serious case of aggrandizement here. We love to accept the kudo’s but tend to get a little ticked off if we are criticized.

    Exactly what I was thinking BH.

Glad to hear it! My only wish is that the local centre for learning did not deny the citizens of “our community” access to the internet while on campus. This is a great space to work but you have to actually be renting a meeting room to have wifi. I get that students needs come first but for the vast majority of the time there are vast empty spaces that could be used by locals and business persons who happen to be there to attend meetings. Every hotel, starbucks, even McDonalds provide this for their visitors.

    Indeed, according to this morning’s news, some highway rest areas will soon have free wifi.

Once again, UNBC celebrates the annual deception that they are really Number 1. The Macleans survey has no scientific basis and the results are almost completely without merit. Yet UNBC runs with them in an effort that is nothing more than free marketing.

UNBC is actually a university with very low student enrollments and is being highly subsidized for political purposes. This distorts and skews the metrics used to calculate the Macleans ratings.

    I am curious. Why are the results “ALMOST completely without merit”?

    If not completely without merit, which part does have merit?

    Free marketing is always good. But maybe it is not all that free. Maybe there is a lot of effort to maintain a high caliber university that goes into it. That would not make it free at all because of the “sweat equity”.

    The original subsidy is long gone by a couple of decades, I believe. It was there due to start-up costs, which are typically applied for any new university.

    If there is any university in BC that could claim a high “so called subsidy” so that BC can compete with McGill, Queens and UofT on the international market, it would be UBC which now includes a campus in Kelowna.

    UNBC is not exactly the university with the lowest enrollments in Canada. It sits with the highest proportion of graduate students with almost 22% of full time students enrolled in graduate programs which is higher than UBC. In comparison, Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops has 3.7% of its students enrolled in graduate programs.

    Mount Allison University has less than 1% of its full-time students enrolled in graduate programs.

    The question is, why is UNBC put into that category? When it has such a relative large number of graduate students?

    It is a small university, no doubt. It is relatively new as universities go, it is in the hinterlands of BC with small population centers, it has limited programs and it is competing with a College which still maintains University Transfer courses.

    TRU, for instance, has a higher enrolment only because it serves both a university function as well as a college function. In addition, it has a large component if distance education programs/courses. Combine CNC and UNBC enrolment and the total matches TRU.

One would have to get into more detail to get the real picture of UNBC versus other small universities in Canada, and that is what this report is all about. UVIC, Thompson River, UBC, Simon Fraser, etc; etc; are not included in the report, and should not be used for comparisons.

Universities in BC are funded by the Provincial Government based on the number of Full Time Equivalent students enrolled,. These enrolment numbers are based on the next years forecast, and are funded accordingly. UNBC’s forecast for many years was higher than the actual enrolments, and therefore they were overfunded. This was in fact a subsidy, and it was only in the past few years that the Government said it would only fund UNBC on actual enrolments as opposed to forecasted enrolments. This has resulted in a shortfall of revenue for the University.

There are many different criteria used to rate these small Universities, none of which really amount to much. In fact one wonders why they have the process at all.

One criteria is class size (UNBC has a 15-1 teacher to student ratio, and therefore gets points for having a smaller number of students in each class, even though this is a result of small enrolment numbers.

    You must remember that the assessment is based from a student’s point of view. Who cares why class sizes are small. For some learning styles, size of classes matters.

    Students do not all learn in the same fashion. Some learn best on their own while others need assistance from a teacher. That is especially true in the transition year from High School to the University year.

    I sat in a first-year economics class of about 500 in my first year at UofT. The class was in the auditorium at the Royal Ontario Museum. That was just over 1km away from the Architecture School building located the diagonal distance of the major downtown U of T campus which is a square of about 1km by ¾ km. That is the size of downtown PG from First Avenue to Eleventh Avenue and Vancouver St. to Queensway St., including the area of Connaught Hill.

    While enrollment in a first year courses these days may be in the order of 1,500 and may have several screens scattered in the hall showing the prof lecturing. Such classes typically have tutorials given by doctoral student that might be in the 15 to 20 student ranges.

    At a smaller university, there can be considerably more student engagement with those who are supposed to be their teachers.

    Which system is more economically efficient as opposed to qualitatively effective can be simply a matter of opinion. The latter must, however, be compared in relation to a student’s learning style. Again, that is where any ranking of universities depends on the criteria the ranking organization choses. Macleans is just one.

    In my opinion, the best ranking system would be one which students themselves would conduct and share through their various student associations in the province, Canada, and internationally.

    I remember that in Europe, the university system is not the same spoon feeding system we have. Each degree has its own sets of examinations which must be taken to earn a degree. Students assemble their own courses which they feel will give them the requisite knowledge/skills to succeed in those exams.

    Again, a university is a service. The client is the student. Macleans’ ranking system is quite appropriate from that point of view.

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