The Globe and Mail's Canadian University Report's profiles of more than 70 universities across the country give snapshots on many factors, from educational experience to the feel of the campus.
BRITISH COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
The University of British Columbia has a large presence, with two campuses, multiple UBC sites and affiliated centres and an Asian Pacific Regional Office in Hong Kong. It attracts many international students, with almost a quarter of all its students coming from abroad.
UBC offers programs at the undergraduate, graduate and PhD levels in more than 20 faculties and schools. In addition to robust undergraduate programs in the arts and sciences, the university has a school of kinesiology, school of journalism, a law school, faculty of medicine and a school of architecture and landscape architecture. Also known for extensive research, the university boasts the third-highest number of research chairs in Canada. The QS World University Rankings rating system ranks UBC as the 51st best university in the world.
When needing a break from their studies, UBC students can stroll over to Wreck Beach or relax in the Rose Garden on campus, where they can also visit the Reconciliation Pole. Crafted by Haida master carver and hereditary chief 7idansuu (Edenshaw) James Hart, the red cedar pole was raised in the Haida tradition on April 1, 2017.
North Vancouver (main), Sechelt
This teaching-focused university provides students with multiple options for areas of study, including diplomas in animation and bachelor degrees in legal studies and music therapy. Women comprise 60 per cent of the student population, with most students coming from Metro Vancouver.
The university has carved out a leading role for itself in advancing sustainability. In October 2016,
Capilano announced that it achieved one year early its 33-per-cent target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As well, it surpassed its original target by nearly 20 per cent, decreasing emissions by almost 53 per cent from its baseline year of 2007.
Capilano University has one of the lowest graduation rates in the province, with 46.6 per cent of students graduating within six years.
EMILY CARR UNIVERSITY OF ART + DESIGN
Students enrolled at Emily Carr University can pursue bachelor's degrees in design, fine arts and media arts, while also taking advantage of any of the three available minors – art + text, curatorial practice, and social practice and community engagement (SPACE).
Emily Carr's new campus on Great Northern Way in East Vancouver opens in fall 2017 with a state-of-the-art facility for current and incoming students.
The new location will also provide enhanced opportunities for international students to improve their English-language skills. A partnership between Emily Carr and the Vancouver Community College (VCC) – also on Great Northern Way – will allow students conditionally accepted to Emily Carr to complete their English-language requirements at VCC.
Graduates from Emily Carr are more likely to default on their student loans than alumni from other institutions across the province.
Whereas the average default rate in British Columbia is 7 per cent, about 13 per cent of indebted Emily Carr graduates have failed to repay their loans in the recent past.
UNIVERSITY OF THE FRASER VALLEY
Abbotsford (main), Chilliwack, Mission, Hope
The University of the Fraser Valley, located east of Vancouver, in British Columbia's Fraser Valley region, has experienced consistent enrolment hikes over the past three years. Of the student body, more than half are women, and Indigenous students comprise a significant 6 per cent.
UFV students are encouraged to pursue their own research, even at the undergraduate level, to increase their chances of obtaining scholarships, awards and graduate-school positions.
The university's Research, Engagement, and Graduate Studies office hosts an annual dinner to celebrate the research conducted by undergraduates; this year, UFV awarded more than $22,000 to 37 promising students.
According to the latest available results from the NSSE, students are likely to believe that UFV provides them with job skills more than students attending other universities in the region, except for those attending Vancouver Island University (VIU).
UFV is increasing its global presence by operating a small campus in Chandigarh, a city in northern India.
KWANTLEN POLYTECHNIC UNIVERSITY
Surrey (main), Richmond, Langley, Cloverdale
Kwantlen Polytechnic is dispersed in the greater Vancouver area, with four campuses available to students. In addition to baccalaureate degrees, diplomas and certifications, KPU offers a robust upgrading program that allows adults 19 years and older to complete secondary-school graduation requirements outlined by the B.C.
Ministry of Education.
Students looking to combine their education with valuable work experience will find co-op opportunities in a number of programs, including information technology, community criminal justice and accounting. On National Aboriginal Day this year, the institution announced a new, first-of-its-kind minor program in Indigenous studies, focused on community and justice.
In support of students facing financial barriers, KPU participates in the BC campus Open Textbook Project, which provides free digital textbooks, as well as low-cost print textbooks. More than 180 titles are currently offered through this initiative, and KPU's adoption rate of open-access textbooks has nearly doubled over the past year.
UNIVERSITY OF NORTHERN BRITISH COLUMBIA
Prince George (main), Fort St. John, Terrace, Gitwinksihlkw, Quesnel
The University of Northern British Columbia officially opened on Aug. 17, 1994. Classes commenced three weeks later, with 1,400 enrolled students. Since then, the university's student body has more than doubled in size, with almost 70 per cent of students coming from northern British Columbia.
In an effort to internationalize the campus, UNBC has set a goal to increase the proportion of international students on campus from 11 per cent to between 15 and 20 per cent. In order to achieve this target, the school is exploring a number of initiatives, such as the inclusion of an international high school on campus; delegations visiting China to develop partnerships and student pathways; and, with UNBC as one of four postsecondary institutions, the signing of a memorandum of understanding to ensure guaranteed admission for qualified international students.
The average age of a UNBC undergraduate student is 25.
At almost $33,000, tuition at Quest University – Canada's first private, secular, non-profit university – is the most expensive among the schools included in this report.
Students also tend to have aboveaverage levels of student debt once they have completed their degrees, but only about 2 per cent of Quest alumni default on their loans – the lowest rate in British Columbia.
Before they can enroll in the school's Foundation program – a set of 16 courses in the arts and sciences taken in the first two years of study – students must demonstrate basic skills of quantitative reasoning (Q skills). Quest's Q skills program aims to better prepare students for academic and professional success.
Quest students generally feel more positive about their university experience than students attending other postsecondary institutions in British Columbia.
ROYAL ROADS UNIVERSITY
Royal Roads University emphasizes interdisciplinary learning by offering a bachelor of arts in interdisciplinary studies.
Aimed at cultivating the tools for tackling complex problems in the workforce later, this program encourages students to take advantage of courses in different fields.
Royal Roads also offers flexibility in terms of degree completion; students can attain their degrees on campus or online, or they can pursue a blended model of oncampus and online courses.
Because Royal Roads is known for its flexible admissions procedure, students who have not achieved marks high enough to qualify for standard admission may find postsecondary opportunities here. In addition to assessing formal admissions criteria, the university will take life experience into account.
Three students enrolled in Royal Roads University's international hotel management program for a bachelor of arts – Annie Luke, Lindsay Henderson and Darya Nikulenkova – won the Winning Pitch competition at the 2017 BC Tourism Industry Conference.
Their "Connect to Adventure" pitch proposes a mobile app that links visitors of Vancouver Island with agritourism businesses.
SIMON FRASER UNIVERSITY
Burnaby, Vancouver, Surrey
SFU prides itself on being a community-engaged research and teaching institution that offers more than 100 undergraduate programs. Also available are many certification programs aimed at enhancing a student's area of study.
Gaining admission into SFU is not easy; the school's average entrance GPA sits in the high 80s.
Students must also demonstrate adequate English language skills and quantitative skills, as well as any skills specific to their program of choice. In response to the U.S. travel ban spearheaded by President Donald Trump, SFU has waived application fees for non-residents of Canada who are citizens of the seven countries listed in the ban – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
A team of SFU undergraduate students garnered top prize at the University of Oxford's Global Challenge 2017 for their research on the impacts of medical waste.
The team, comprised of students from the faculties of science and business, won more than $5,000 worth of prizes and an invitation to attend two social entrepreneurship conferences next year at the research-focused University of Oxford in Britain.
THOMPSON RIVERS UNIVERSITY
Kamloops (main), Williams Lake
At Thompson Rivers University, students can choose from 140 on-campus programs and 60 Open Learning programs, which are part of TRU's distance learning framework. Currently, women make up 66 per cent of the university's distance learning population and 47 per cent of the on-campus student body.
Varsity athletics teams, known as Wolfpack teams, include men's and women's basketball, volleyball and soccer, as well as co-ed swimming and cross-country running.
Student clubs are also in abundance, with 100 of them available on campus.
The average class at Thompson Rivers seats 31 students.
VANCOUVER ISLAND UNIVERSITY
Nanaimo (main), Cowichan, Duncan, Parksville-Qualicum, Powell River
VIU offers unique programs in academic, vocational and technical fields, including trades and applied technology, First Nations studies, professional development and training, and academic and career preparation. Students can also choose to enroll in more traditional program areas, such as the arts, humanities and social sciences.
One of this university's primary goals is to make postsecondary education accessible to former youth in care. As a result, VIU became the first university in British Columbia to offer a Youth in Care Tuition Waiver Program, which assists students who grew up in the care system to overcome financial barriers by waiving their tuition costs.
In addition to its main campus, which is located in Nanaimo, VIU has campuses in Duncan, Parksville-Qualicum, Cowichan and Powell River. Students visiting the campus in Parksville can also drop by the Milner Gardens and Woodland, a public seaside garden owned by VIU.
UNIVERSITY OF VICTORIA
The University of Victoria houses numerous faculties, including human and social development, arts, sciences and engineering, which provide new students with a wide range of majors to choose from.
UVic's law school offers the country's only Indigenous Law Research Unit, which is dedicated to the revitalization of Indigenous laws.
The University of Victoria has voiced its commitment to provide students with experiential training. Its co-op program, one of the largest in Canada, continues to grow. UVic also plans to respond to the increasingly global workforce by expanding international exchange opportunities and focusing research efforts on topics that affect local as well as global communities. Main fields of research include technology, social and environmental well-being, ocean health, climate science and clean energy.
Although the university devotes a bigger chunk of its budget to financial aid than any other school in British Columbia, UVic students also have the second-highest debt in the province. Nonetheless, they have an above-average graduation rate, with 67 per cent of them graduating within seven years.
* Most recent available figure
** From website and not verified by university
*** Trimester system
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