Concordia's Thursday Report

Vol. 28, No.4

October 23, 2003


First in graduate fine arts, seventh in teaching says questionable study

There was good news and bad news — or no news — in the “university report card” published as a supplement to the Globe and Mail on Oct. 14.

This survey, like the one published by Maclean’s magazine every November, must be taken with a healthy grain of salt.

In its front-page Oct. 18 report on the survey, the National Post revealed that the survey awarded top marks to medical schools at York and Waterloo universities, even though neither has a faculty of medicine. Waterloo placed ninth and “University of Quebec” placed seventh in the law schools category; neither offers a law degree.

Close examination of the website ( reveals that only 358 Concordia students out of a potential 28,000 participated in the online survey run by Uthink, a research and youth marketing firm, and Allan Gregg’s firm, The Strategic Counsel. There is no information about department or faculty affiliation of these 358 Concordia students.

The supplement didn’t even print results for universities where fewer than 230 completed surveys were submitted to a given category.

It was no news that Concordia didn’t win the Miss Congeniality award because of ideological and Mideast tensions on campus. In the category called Atmosphere, Concordia placed dead last in a field of 38.

However, Concordia came first when students nationwide were asked for the best place for post-graduate studies in art, ahead of the University of Toronto and well ahead of the Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design and the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design.

In the Quality of Education category, Concordia was rated in mid-field, but when this was broken down into sub-categories, we did even better. In Quality of Teaching, Concordia ranked seventh, and in Teaching Methods, 14th. Concordia did not fare well in such categories as Student Services, Library Services, Online Resources, Campus Food, Recreational Facilities and Financial Assistance.

Some of the responses were confusing, not to say contradictory. McGill came first in the Reputation category, however, it placed fourth after Waterloo, Sherbrooke and Queen’s when it came to Career Opportunity, and 15th in Employment Preparation.

However, all four Montreal universities benefit from the city’s great reputation for fun and accessibility, but they have some catching up to do in terms of student housing.

For many years, students could easily find accommodation off campus, but this is no longer the case.

In his introduction, pollster Gregg remarks “two of the most respected universities in Canada — Toronto and McGill — record the greatest unhappiness with classroom size. Students are telling us that they feel isolated not only from the community where they live, but also from one another.”

Gregg also notes that teaching methods, faculty feedback and access to faculty outside the classroom are as important to students as their professors’ scholarship.