A new approach by Lakehead University administration has caught national attention.
The Thunder Bay university jumped into the top-10 of the primarily undergraduate category in the Maclean’s magazine’s 2014 university rankings, released on Friday. The school earned the 12th spot in that same category in the magazine’s 2013 and 2012 ranking.
Provost and vice-president Rod Hanley said the school has been on the rise in the category over the past couple of years, and identifies an evaluation of the university experience as being a likely cause.
“We’re a university on the move,” Hanley said. “We’ve taken a fresh view of what’s happening across campus. We want to put more emphasis on students and student success.”
Lakehead ranks second in Ontario in the category, trailing only Trent University in Peterborough, which placed sixth.
The rankings take into account different factors such as student-faculty ratio, research productivity, operating budget as well as student performance such as awards and scholarships and bursaries.
The university led the province in a couple of criteria, including social sciences and humanities grants, total research dollars and library holdings per student.
The rankings also examine the faculty members, in terms of their success and ability to attract research financing.
Hanley views this is a significant area of growth for the university.
“We bring in high quality faculty members from all over the world that are very active in research and are very productive,” Hanley credited.
“We offer a very intimate style experience for students. We have small class sizes, and the student-faculty ratio is very favourable at Lakehead University versus other large mega-schools.”
Every year the university’s branch campus in Orillia continues to grow in terms of both students and programs, as there are around 1,200 students enrolled this year.
Between the Northern Ontario School of Medicine and the charter class for the faculty of law, the university is in a process of diversifying their offerings.
Hanley said the university is seeing evidence that Lakehead is turning into a destination school, as the number of students from southern Ontario and the Ottawa region is increasing.
The ranking is just another recruiting tool for the university, Hanley said.
“The rankings do matter. It’s a very competitive market out there in higher education, and people look for information about where to send their sons or daughters or where students want to go for a university experience,” he explained.
“We think this will have a very positive impact both in the number of students, as well as the quality of students that come to Lakehead University.”
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