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People on the waterfront in Historic Properties of Halifax. (Getty Images)
People on the waterfront in Historic Properties of Halifax. (Getty Images)

Canadian University Report 2014: Profiles-Atlantic

Help choosing a university in the Atlantic Add to ...

– Quinn Harrington, fourth-year philosophy


Mount Saint Vincent University

Liberal arts meets social justice


Students: 4,000

Cost: $6,600

Awards: $1.7-million

Pro: Strong programs in science communication and public relations

Con: Commute to downtown bars and cafes

Perched on a hill overlooking the Bedford Basin, it’s not unusual to spot deer grazing on the campus of MSVU. Originally founded by nuns to support women’s higher education in 1873, there are now three female students for every male. MSVU’s founding mission has evolved to promote accessibility for all students, and it offers flexible programs and schedules to 1,000 mature students.

Hotshot prof: Patricia Williams was awarded a $1-million grant by Community-University Research Alliances (CURA) in 2010 for her Activating Policy Change for Community Food Security research program.

Notable alumnus: Judge Corinne Sparks was the first African-Canadian to serve on the bench when appointed to the Nova Scotia family court judge in 1987.


St. Francis Xavier University

School of the ring


Students: 4,700

Cost: $6,400 or $7,400 (out of province)

Awards: $2-million

Pro: Every grad receives the recognizable X-Ring

Con: Privacy is elusive in a college town of 5,000 With more than half the student body living on campus, St. FX benefits from a close-knit community, even if rivalries between residences can get nasty. The university’s average first-year class size of 27 is evidence of its pledge to be all about undergrads. St. FX is in the midst of a $144-million, 10-year infrastructure overhaul, which included the construction of a new business school building. But the campus facelift became controversial this spring when the university announced layoffs to address a $4.5-million deficit.

Hotshot prof: David Risk created a greenhouse-gas detecting probe for soil samples that is being sold by Forerunner Research.

Notable alumnus: Brian Mulroney is a former prime minister of Canada.

Students say: “St. FX is always renovating and upgrading, making the student experience even better.”

– Jade Anema, second-year engineering


Saint Mary’s University

Nova Scotia’s connection to China


Students: 7,400

Cost: $6,000

Awards: $5-million

Pro: No class on Fridays

Con: Less academic prestige than neighbouring universities

Saint Mary’s has fostered ties with China since the early 1980s, and this influence is apparent; more than a quarter of students are from abroad, mostly from China, and the recently opened Confucius Institute promotes Chinese language, culture and commerce. With 35 per cent of undergraduate students enrolled in the Sobey School of Business, finance and marketing talk tends to dominate conversation at the Gorsebrook Lounge. SMU students say they are friendlier than their “snobbish” rivals at Dalhousie, just a few streets away.

Hotshot prof: Adam Sarty, physics professor and 3M teaching fellow, regularly conducts fun explosive in-class demonstrations that become popular on YouTube.

Notable alumnus: Nancy Knowlton is the former president and CEO of Smart Technologies, developer of the Smart Board interactive whiteboard.



Memorial University of Newfoundland

Newfoundland’s engine

St. John’s

Students: 18,000 students

Cost: $3,100

Awards: $3.2-million

Pro: Cheapest tuition outside Quebec

Con: Ranked poorly on active and collaborative learning in NSSE

The largest university in Atlantic Canada, Memorial is deeply connected to the ocean through its Marine Institute which offers programs such as the joint diploma of technology and bachelor of technology in ocean mapping. Memorial is proud of being the only anglophone university to offer studies in folklore at the bachelor, master’s and PhD level. The university bar The Breezeway used to be the centre of campus social life, but a $160,000 deficit has called its future into question. Luckily, campus is only minutes from downtown where students can enjoy the spirited and rowdy nightlife on George Street.

Hotshot prof: Maureen Volk, associate dean of music, won the 2011 Association of Atlantic Universities Distinguished Teaching Award.

Notable alumnus: Danny Williams served as premier of Newfoundland and Labrador for seven years before stepping down in December of 2010.

Students say: “My experiences with university-organized volunteer opportunities and the study abroad opportunity provided by the Harlow Campus enhanced my studies immensely.”

– Candace Simms, final-year political science

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