McGill aces survey

Students vote in Globe ranking

By Neale McDevitt

Getting good grades is always nice, but when a university gets top marks from the people it serves – the students – it is particularly sweet.

On Oct. 23, the Globe and Mail released its annual  Canadian University Report in which more than 43,000 current undergraduates were asked to rate their university on everything from quality of education to ease of registration to career preparation. In all, 55 institutions were graded, with McGill being one of 16 schools in the Large University category.

Grades were assigned to 19 main categories with McGill ranking first in four and second in five others. The University received its best marks in areas such as academic reputation (A+), campus technology (A), libraries (A), quality of education (A-), most satisfied students (A-), recreation and athletics (A-), campus atmosphere (A-) and extracurricular activities (A-).

Gabriel Lemonde-Labreque, a third-year software engineering student wasn’t surprised McGill rated so high on the academic side of things. “McGill isn’t one of the top schools by accident,” he said. “We push research and education so deeply here. I think we take things to another level.”

For Morton Mendelson, Deputy Provost (Student Life & Learning), the Report is an indication McGill is moving in the right direction. “One of the Administration’s priorities is to make the University more student-centred.

I think this survey captures the strength of the student experience here.

“Interestingly, campus technology and athletics are areas students contribute to in substantial ways in terms of funding. It’s good to see that they feel they are getting value for their money.”

Working wireless from his laptop in Burnside Hall, Lemonde-Labreque echoed those  sentiments. “The wireless network is great. I have access to it wherever I am on campus,” he said. “However, if there is a weakness on the technological side it would be Web CT – it is down a lot and too slow when it works. We rely on it for our assignments so this can be a problem.”

On the downside, students rated McGill’s food services a mere D, down from C- the year before. “We know that food has been a problem on campus and the Administration has made this a priority issue this year,” said Mendelson. “We are currently looking for a Director of Food Services, someone who is committed to working with students to help improve the system as a whole.

“Food is an essential part of student life and we are in the process of making some major changes in the way we handle food delivery on campus. My goal is to implement those changes soon enough to impact next year’s results.”

In the end, said Mendelson, while the overall results of the report suggest McGill is on the right track, high marks shouldn’t lull anyone into a false sense of security. “First and foremost, we are here to educate – and it is good to see the students are pleased enough with the quality of education to give us an A-,” he said.

“But we are always looking to improve. We’re just coming off a two-year period in which we’ve

evaluated all programs and have recommended a number of changes. We’re very good, but we want to get

even better.”