2017 Maclean’s university rankings mirror existing Brandon University priorities

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Brandon University (BU) is proud of the strong resources devoted to students, including unparalleled access to faculty, that are on display in the 2017 Maclean’s magazine university rankings, which were released today.

“Students tell us that they choose Brandon University for our close-knit and student-focused campus, with small classes that enable them to develop strong relationships with their professors,” said BU President Dr. Gervan Fearon. “We are proud to see that those strengths are reflected in the data compiled and released by Maclean’s today.”

Brandon University’s student/faculty ratio was ranked best in the nation overall, across all categories tracked by Maclean’s. With a ratio of 12 to 1, BU easily topped the Primarily Undergraduate category, and the ratio is also better than any university in the Medical/Doctoral or Comprehensive category.

“Our student-to-faculty ratio remains the envy of universities across Canada,” said Dr. Steve Robinson, Vice President Academic at BU. “We provide our students with exceptional access to their instructors in classrooms, in labs and in research opportunities.”

Thanks to that large number of dedicated faculty, students at BU enjoy very low average class sizes as well.

“Students at BU benefit from personalized, engaged education, from Orientation through Convocation,” Dr. Robinson said. “Average class sizes at Brandon University are very low, even in first- and second-year classes.”

Ranked against all universities, BU’s average first- and second-year class sizes were 29.9, which was fifth best. In third- and fourth-year classes, the average size at BU was 12.5, which was second best.

In the overall rankings, BU slipped one place to No. 17 in the Primarily Undergraduate category.

“Across all the metrics that are compiled by Maclean’s, including new questions this year and data that is a multi-year average, BU’s ranking is similar to where we placed last year and the year before,” Dr. Robinson said. “What the ranking shows is that the investments we are making to push us in the right direction are in fact being made in the right places.”

Brandon University ranked poorly in the Maclean’s measures of student satisfaction, particularly in areas of experiential learning, in residence living and in steps to prevent sexual assault.

“These are precisely the areas where we are already working hard to improve,” Dr. Robinson said. “We are actively hiring a new co-operative learning coordinator, we have a shovel-ready project for new residences, and we are ready to roll out consultations for our new, standalone sexual violence policy.”

This past spring, when BU surveyed graduating students, 80.4 per cent of undergrads and 93.3 per cent of graduate students said they would recommend BU. Together, that marks an increase in graduating student satisfaction of 22.5 per cent over the previous two years.

As well, 93 per cent of first-year Brandon University students said in a Canadian University Survey Consortium that they were satisfied or very satisfied with their choice at BU, and 98 per cent said they would recommend BU.

Brandon University has also identified student retention and graduation rates as a priority, and has improved both of those rates since last year.

“Some of the areas where we rank poorly reflect deliberate choices we’ve made,” Dr. Robinson said. “For example, we are proud to welcome students whose high school grades may not indicate their potential, and through innovative new programs like SUCCESS1, we are able to provide them with the right supports to help them thrive in university.”

Early data from last year’s soft launch of SUCCESS1 shows that the program dramatically improved retention rates for students who entered university with high school grades of under 70 per cent. Student retention and graduation rates at BU are also affected by the large numbers of students who transfer from BU to finish their chosen degree programs at another institution.

“Brandon University provides a small, welcoming environment for many students’ first year or two,” Dr. Robinson said. “When they choose to enter a professional program at a larger university, or to specialize in a field that is not available here, we encourage them.”

Also encouraging are some very recent successes at BU that will appear in future rankings.

“In terms of awards, research grants and citations, our outstanding faculty have had a remarkable year so far,” Dr. Robinson said. “And with student growth of 5 per cent last year and 7 per cent this year, we are confident that we are on the right track.”

The Maclean’s rankings are useful to identify areas of strength and those requiring further action, President Fearon said.

“We are working on our strengths and making investments that will deliver greater value and student opportunities in the future. We work at making BU great for our students and many start here and go on to significant leadership positions throughout the country,” Dr. Fearon said. “Our students, alumni and community tell us we are moving the right direction and we value their views. We are confident that the improvements we are making today will show up in our rankings in the coming years.”


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