|STU president gratified by praise from students in university survey|
BY SARAH MCGINNIS
St. Thomas University in Fredericton is feeling like the little school that could after students heaped glowing praise on the institution in a survey of Canadian universities.
About 26,400 students from 58 Canadian universities were interviewed for the study conducted by the Globe and Mail. Students were asked to assess everything from the quality of teaching to student services.
The results were compiled in the University Report Card, which is available online at www.universityreportcard.com.
Included in the "Punching above their weight" category, the 125 St. Thomas University students who participated in the survey gave their school high marks. The university didn't have enough respondents to be ranked among the biggest schools in Canada, but STU was still listed as being above average in quality of education, student services and campus facilities, which were the only three categories for smaller schools.
"They were very generous to us . . . they refer to us as having a reputation for excellence enjoyed by renowned schools and they included us in that," said university president Daniel O'Brien. "I would have predicted that response so I'm not surprised. I'm gratified but I'm not surprised."
Students did have some concerns about the school, especially variety of courses and course registration. They found the online registration program difficult and cumbersome.
Mr. O'Brien said the survey was conducted last spring and didn't include the experience students had this September. He said the university has limited enrolment, hired additional faculty and streamlined registration procedures to address these issues.
"I'm delighted to say 'wait until next year,' " Mr. O'Brien said. "If the study was done now, I think those criticisms would be displaced."
Mr. O'Brien said St. Thomas has been transforming itself over the past decade. Enrolment has risen 90 per cent from 1990, faculty has expanded by 60 per cent and buildings and facilities have doubled to accommodate the growing population at the university.
With the praise included in the survey, Mr. O'Brien said St. Thomas University is definitely moving in the right direction.
Other New Brunswick universities also scored high on the student survey. Mount Allison University in Sackville was listed as being above average in quality of education. The University of New Brunswick in Fredericton was among the top 10 schools in Canada for technology resources and course availability. The Université de Moncton's campus in Moncton was ranked in the top 10 nationally in six of nine categories including buildings and facilities, technology, student services, financial aid, course registration and off campus life.