October 16 , 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 26  

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Trent? What the fuck?

According to Western students, we the shit.

The Globe and Mail’s University Report Card was released yesterday and according to the rankings, Western is one of the top universities in Canada when it comes to student life.

The survey was conducted online by Uthink, an online research and youth marketing firm and The Strategic Counsel, a Toronto survey firm. The two companies compiled responses to 100 questions from 26,400 students across Canada.

Western placed first in the country for having the best campus, residences and number of course choices. Furthermore, teaching methods, campus facilities, library services, online resources, technology, access to computers and course material online at Western all ranked in the top three in Canada.

The results of the survey, however, must be taken with a grain of salt. the amount of respondents per university ranged from 235 to 1,532 students. Does the response of approximately three to five per cent of students at Western really tell us anything about the quality of education at this university?

Also, interestingly enough, schools such as McMaster University, which carries a strong reputation for quality education, finished near the cellar for quality of teaching while schools such as Trent University and Brock University, who offer the equivalent of a kindergarten education, scored number one and three in quality of teaching.

It is very likely the rankings reflect the quality of respondents and not the quality of the actual institution. Students who attend superior academic schools such as Mac, the University of Toronto and Queen’s University approach their education with a more active and critical perspective. They expect the best and will clearly voice their concerns if their chosen institution does not live up to their standards.

On the flip side, Brock and Trent are more easily accessible academically, therefore, the students may not expect as much of their university — they’re just thankful they were accepted and not flipping burgers at Wendy’s.

The survey is a step in the right direction because it gives the student population a voice. But the survey just doesn’t make sense with schools of note tanking while castoffs coming out looking peachy keen. The right questions were asked, but to the wrong people.

Therefore, take the survey for what it is: the perception of schools from a small amount of their respective populations, not a iron-clad rating of a school’s success.

And take Trent’s ranking for what it is: the opinion of students who go to Trent.



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