The Globe and Mail's Canadian University Report's profiles of more than 60 universities across the country give snapshots on many factors, from educational experience to the feel of the campus.
Sault Ste. Marie (main), Brampton and Timmins
Located in Sault Ste. Marie, Algoma University is located in the heart of Ontario's Great Lakes. Algoma has fewer than 1,500 students, making it the smallest university in Ontario.
This means the school doesn't have many resources to dedicate to research or financial aid, but students can count on small class sizes and a university experience that feels personal.
A lower-than-average 62 per cent of students enrolled at Algoma graduate within seven years, but those who do, rate their overall educational experience well, and 88 per cent find employment within two years of graduation.
In June 2016, in response to a downturn in the steel industry, Algoma announced that it would be providing steelworkers with the opportunity to pursue a postsecondary education and explore career opportunities within the industry or in other fields. In partnership with Essar Steel Algoma Inc. and TenarisAlgomaTubes, the university will be offering free tuition to eligible employees of those companies.
St. Catharines (main) and Hamilton
Located in St. Catharines, a 60-minute drive from Toronto and within the Niagara Escarpment (a designated UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve), Brock University boasts a rural feel with easy access to the big city.
Brock defines itself as a research and teaching-focused school, but also strives to focus on community outreach and engagement.
This means offering students co-op positions and volunteer opportunities, as well as providing youth and continuing education programs on campus.
Brock's relatively steady growth over the past decade is reflected in the more than $300-million invested in campus expansion.
One of the most recent buildings to pop up is Brock's new art school in downtown St. Catharines, which opened its doors to 500 students in fall 2015.
Seventy-four per cent of enrolled students graduate from the university, 95 per cent of whom find employment within two years.
Located in Ottawa, Carleton University's campus lies between the Rideau River and the famous Rideau Canal. It is known for its journalism and political science programs, and students benefit from the school's firm roots in the nation's capital city.
Eighty-seven per cent of Carleton students move on from first to second year, but only 69 per cent of students graduate within seven years – lower than average for the province. Those who do graduate rate their overall educational experience highly, and 93 per cent find employment in their fields within two years.
In September 2015, the Urbandale Centre for Home Energy Research opened its doors on the north side of Carleton's campus. It looks like a typical two-storey home, but serves as a space to research energy efficiency, solar energy potential and greenhouse gas reduction.
The building is a result of a longstanding collaboration between the university and a local construction firm.
University Of Guelph
Guelph (main), and Ridgetown
With campuses in both urban and rural settings, Guelph attracts a student population interested in a broad range of subjects, from arts and sciences to business.
It is perhaps best known for its veterinary sciences and agriculture program. Guelph's agriculture program is ranked 24th in the world by the QS World University Rankings, and it strives to rise even further up the ranks in coming years. The department has recently hired many new faculty members and a new dean.
The majority of students, 80 per cent, graduate from their programs within seven years, and 95 per cent of new graduates find work within two years, one of the top five highest rates in the province.
In May, fourth-year agriculture and crop science student Evan Van Moerkerke qualified for the Canadian Olympic swimming team and competed in Rio. The 22-yearold credits some of his dedication to his upbringing on a farm.
Thunder Bay (main) and Orillia
Lakehead University is a relatively small university serving Northern Ontario, with campuses in Thunder Bay and Orillia.
The school made headlines this year when it announced that as of September 2016, all undergraduate students will be required to take at least one indigenous-content credit. It's the only university in Ontario to do so (although the University of Winnipeg also recently implemented the same requirement).
Lakehead Professor Dr. Pedram Fatehi, Canada Research Chair in Green Chemicals and Processes, received an investment of more than $814,000 through the province's Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation to fund five years of research. The research will focus on ways that pulp, paper and mineral processing industries can reduce their environmental impact, and it will bring 16 jobs to Lakehead.
Sudbury (main) and Barrie
Laurentian University is a relatively small school located in Sudbury, known as "the capital of Northern Ontario." Just a short drive from the city centre, the campus is bordered by five freshwater lakes and a large conservation area.
With a large population of Francophones, the city's bilingual culture is reflected in Laurentian's programs, more than 40 per cent of which are offered in English and French.
Laurentian has an impressive ratio of one faculty member for every 18 students. Seventy per cent of its students graduate in a six-year period, and 97 per cent find employment two years after graduating.
In June, Laurentian adopted a preferred name policy. The new policy, adopted to support members of the transgender community, allows students to enroll using their chosen name, rather than the name on their birth certificate.
Hamilton, Burlington, Waterloo and St. Catharines
Hamilton's McMaster University is known for its academic focus, especially in its medical school, which consistently tops Canadian and international charts. In 2015, QS World University Rankings placed McMaster 33rd internationally in the field of medicine. Hailed as a research university, McMaster's research budget is the second highest in the province, falling only behind the University of Toronto.
Students come to McMaster University with an average GPA of 88 per cent and a higher-thanaverage 80 per cent graduate within seven years. Ninety-five per cent find employment within two years of graduating. The majority of senior students say they would be likely to choose McMaster again.
McMaster campus will be one of the stops on a proposed light rail line for the City of Hamilton.
Though it won't be finished until 2024, it will make future student commutes from across Hamilton much speedier.
North Bay (main), Bracebridge and Brantford
For a smaller university, Nipissing, with campuses in North Bay, Muskoka and Brantford, has a pretty good track record. Both first-year and graduating students at the liberal arts university rate their overall educational experience above the provincial average, and 96 per cent of students find work within two years of graduation. However, Nipissing puts a smaller proportion of its budget into financial aid for its students compared to other Ontario universities, and students graduate with levels of debt higher than the provincial average.
The university is also struggling with debt. In June, Nipissing's board of governors approved the school's 2016-17 budget, revealing a projected $4.7-million deficit, building on a trend. The deficit is smaller than in previous years, however, and the school has allocated increased funds to student service, scholarships and bursaries.
Its Muskoka campus, which opened in 1996, closed in June.
Founded in 1876 and granted university status in 2002, the Ontario College of Art and Design is Canada's largest art, design and media university.
OCAD U's student body is reflective of Toronto's diversity, on average bringing in students from more than 50 countries. Twentyeight per cent of OCAD U students speak a first language other than English.
OCAD U offers 17 undergraduate and six graduate programs, and although tuition is about average for the province, very little of the school's budget goes toward financial aid for its students.
Recently, students in an industrial design class partnered with a Regent Park women's sewing collective to work toward sustainable poverty alleviation.
Calling the project Regent Park Proud, the students created concepts for tote bags, placemats and hats reproduced on a larger scale by the sewing collective, which has members from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
The University Of Ontario Institute Of Technology
The University of Ontario Institute of Technology offers a wide range of science and technology programs, ranging from nuclear engineering to information technology to forensic psychology.
The UOIT houses 11 Canada Research Chairs and more than 70 specialized research facilities and laboratories. But UOIT students don't just discover on campus: the university prides itself in having more than 300 partnerships in industry, allowing most students to participate in cooperative, internship, and practicum programs. It advertises its training and education approach as "market-oriented," and 96 per cent of new graduates find work within two years.
This year, UOIT signed memorandums of understanding with Beijing Polytechnic University (BPU) and North China Electric Power University – partnerships which will allow both the Chinese and Canadian undergraduate and graduate students new exchange opportunities.
University Of Ottawa
With more than 40,000 students and more than 450 programs in 10 faculties, the University of Ottawa is not only an impressively large English-French bilingual university but also holds a large law school.
The university dedicates a high percentage of its budget to financial aid compared to other universities in the province. It also spends more per student on library services than the provincial average.
The U of O produced 10 TD Scholars for Community Leadership between 2003 and 2015, falling only behind big players U of T and Waterloo, Queen's and Western universities.
In June 2016, a University of Ottawa neurology professor, Mark S. Freedman, along with a colleague from the Ottawa Hospital, found what appears to be a significant treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS). The treatment involves wiping out and then rebuilding the patient's immune system, which has been shown to slow the progress of early MS in some patients and even lead to full recovery.
Queen's University is a mid-sized school, but it has a big influence on its hometown of Kingston.
Ninety-five per cent of the student population comes from outside Kingston, but once they have arrived, the vast majority live within a 15-minute walk from campus. The student neighbourhood is notorious for keggers and school spirit.
Students work as hard as they play, though. Entering university with an average high-school GPA of 89 per cent, Queen's students continue to be recognized as achievers through their degrees.
Ninety per cent graduate within six years, the highest graduation rate in Ontario. The school has produced 19 TD Scholars for Community Leadership since 2003.
It's not just student performance that sets Queen's apart. Graduating students rate their overall educational experience higher, on average, than students from all other schools in Ontario.
Queen's students are encouraged to learn outside the classroom. The school boasts experiential learning opportunities like internships, practicums and service options.
Students who studied at Queen's Bader International Study Centre in England's Herstmonceux Castle, for example, got to debate Scottish independence with a Scottish MP.
Located right in the heart of Toronto, Ryerson's campus reflects a downtown way of life.
Ryerson brings a careerfocused approach to its programs, connecting students to hands-on internship and placement opportunities, in fields from engineering and economics to journalism, nursing and urban planning. Seventy-two per cent of enrolled students graduate from Ryerson, a rate 3 per cent below the provincial average, but 94 per cent of those who do graduate are employed within two years.
Ryerson offers more than 100 graduate and undergraduate programs to its 38,950 students. It also has a unique "zone learning" program that supports students in developing their business ideas.
Students get to meet with industry professionals to work on fashion design, social ventures and digital media. Students get academic credit for their work.
Ryerson made headlines this year when Senator Murray Sinclair lauded the school's push to adopt the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to actions to become a safer, more equitable place for its indigenous students.
University Of Toronto
Toronto (main), Mississauga, and Scarborough
U of T is located in Toronto's city centre, but still brings a campus feel with classic architecture and green space.
The University of Toronto has Canada's largest student population with nearly 90,000 students. Its size comes with a big reputation internationally, coming in 14th in the world for overall academic reputation, according to the QS World University Rankings system.
The school holds more active Canada Research Chairs than any other university in Canada, and it dedicates substantially more money for research than any other school in the country.
Despite the acclaim, students rate their overall educational experience much lower than the provincial average (something research firm Higher Education Strategy Associates investigated and attributed to a more general GTA "crankiness").
This past spring, 79-year-old retired police officer Clive Davies was the oldest of 13,000 U of T graduates to cross the stage. Mr. Davies, who began his degree in the 1970s but got sidetracked by police shift work, graduated with a history degree.
Peterborough (main) and Oshawa
Trent University boasts an 18-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Its Peterborough campus is known for small classes in a natural setting (it is located on the Otonabee River, and students have access to 30 kilometres of hiking trails), while its Durham campus is a commutable 40 minutes from Toronto's downtown core.
Tuition is free at Trent for firsttime university students with a high-school GPA of 90 per cent or higher. Although Trent students graduate with debt levels higher than Ontario's average, most (94 per cent) find jobs within two years of graduation.
In June 2016, Trent hosted Canada's first academic conference focused on the issue of sexual consent. More than 200 people travelled from as far as New Zealand to attend.
University Of Waterloo
Waterloo (main), Cambridge, Kitchener and Stratford
Students come to the University of Waterloo with an average highschool GPA of 89 per cent, making Waterloo tied with Western University and Queen's University for Ontario's highest entrance grades.
Waterloo devotes more of its budget to financial aid than any other school in Ontario. It's known for its placement opportunities; Waterloo was the first school in Canada to focus on co-operative learning and now boasts Canada's largest co-op program. It also has a large research budget. Ninety-four per cent of Waterloo students find employment within two years of graduating.
Recent Waterloo engineering graduate Richard Yim is inventing technology to defuse landmines.
Growing up in Cambodia, Mr. Yim lost an aunt to a landmine.
At Waterloo, he worked with large companies during his co-op terms and with staff at St. Paul's GreenHouse, Waterloo's social innovation and entrepreneurship hub, to develop his idea. Mr. Yim's company, Landmine Boys, now develops robotics to defuse landmines in Vietnam and other countries.
University Of Western Ontario
In 2011, Western University was deemed one of the best party schools in North America by Playboy Magazine, but its wild reputation is balanced with a strong focus on achievement. Its first-year students have a high-school GPA of 89 per cent, and the leadershipfocused Ivey Business School is internationally renowned for its MBA program.
Western operates with a hefty research budget of more than $66-million and spends more than average on library services.
Eighty-five per cent of enrolled students end up graduating from Western, although with higher levels of debt, on average, than students at most other Ontario universities.
Western cell biology and anatomy professor David Cechetto received $8.9-million in funding from Global Affairs Canada to develop programs for health-care providers in Rwanda, Burundi and other low-income countries that are tackling high rates of child and prenatal deaths.
Wilfrid Laurier University
Waterloo (main), Brantford and Kitchener
Wilfrid Laurier University is a midsized school based in Waterloo with satellite campuses in Brantford, Toronto and Kitchener.
It boasts the largest business co-op program in Canada, with 4,500 employers recruiting every year. Ninety-five per cent of WLU students find employment within two years of graduating.
WLU's unique master of arts in community music teaches students to practise music that serves a therapeutic and communitybuilding function, rather than for pure performance. Launched in 2013, the program draws on concepts from indigenous studies, social work, health sciences and social sciences and offers students placements in settings such as seniors' homes, youth groups and arts organizations.
University Of Windsor
The University of Windsor sits right next to the spot where Ontario and Michigan meet, North America's busiest border crossing.
International students reflect 11 per cent of the student body. UWindsor has a 73-per-cent graduation rate, which is modest in comparison to the provincial average.
The University of Windsor strives to bring a focus on innovation to its wide range of programs. The Ed Lumley Centre for Engineering Innovation opened in 2012, and it serves as an innovation hub with more than 80 research labs. The university has more expansion in the works: architects are drawing up plans to take over three buildings in Windsor's city centre.
Toronto (main) and Glendon College (French)
Smaller than U of T but larger than Ryerson, Toronto-based York University is the second-largest university in Ontario with 52,300 students. It has two campuses in the north end of the city, one of which, Glendon College, is fully bilingual.
Seventy-three per cent of students graduate from York, a rate just below the provincial average, and 90 per cent of students find employment within two years. York students graduate with less debt, on average, than students at other Ontario universities.
York has a large psychology program and offers Canada's only space engineering program.
Students take courses on planetary systems and space mission design from professors who have worked on national and international space missions such as the Phoenix Mars Lander.
In 2016, York added a $115-million new building to its campus, a five-storey structure with an exterior made of 8,000 triangular metal panels and windows. Informally called "the cloud," the Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence features classrooms built with discussion and collaboration in mind.