Watching out for students’ well-being is a priority at Brock University, and the latest Maclean’s University Rankings casts Brock as a national leader in several key disciplines.
In its comparison of 15 comprehensive universities across the country, the 2019 edition of the Maclean’s review ranks Brock number three in Canada for overall student satisfaction.
Brock came out first in the category for mental health services provided to students, and fourth for the quality of its academic advisors — staff who help students determine their desired program, select the courses to achieve it, and ultimately fulfil their academic goals.
Maclean’s overall ranking, factoring all metrics, put Brock at 13th on the national stage, jumping two positions up the table since last year’s report. Brock has for nearly a decade been categorized as comprehensive, as it offers significant research activity and a wide range of both undergraduate and graduate programming. The University offers a total of 120 degree programs, including nearly 50 graduate programs.
Brock President Gervan Fearon said the results “provide a clear demonstration that we are making a difference. The entire Brock community can celebrate the excellence in post-secondary education we are being recognized for delivering.”
The Maclean’s report comes just weeks after Brock announced record enrolment at a time when universities are trying to recruit from a declining pool of Canadian high school graduates.
More than 5,000 new students started the Fall Term last month, a six-per-cent increase over the previous incoming class. Brock’s 19,100 students marks the largest enrolment in its 54-year history.
“Brock is an outstanding institution that continues to make big strides in teaching and learning excellence, putting the student experience first, progressing research and scholarly activities, improving academic programming and retention efforts, and investing in the facilities and resources that make a different to students and post-secondary education,” Fearon said.
One of the major highlights within the more detailed rankings is Brock’s national ranking for student satisfaction. After coming in sixth two years ago and fifth last year, Brock now ranks third among comprehensive universities.
“It’s incredibly gratifying to see the level of satisfaction of the students that attend our University,” said Board of Trustees Chair Gary Comerford. “This positive student experience sets the stage for their future successes.”
Delving deeper into the student satisfaction ratings, Brock improved in seven of the 10 sub-categories, and held steady in two more.
Of these, the highlights include moving up to first from second when it comes to mental health services for students. Brock also moved up a remarkable eight spots to sixth in the steps to prevent sexual assault category and six spots in academic advising staff.
“I am exceptionally pleased that Brock now ranks first in student mental health supports,” said Anna Lathrop, Vice-Provost, Teaching, Learning and Student Success. “This is strong affirmation that the strategies and partnerships that our Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre has adopted — both on campus and with community partners — is most effective. I give full credit to SWAC Director Sarah Pennisi and her entire staff, along with the Brock University Students’ Union, who have worked very closely to enhance student supports for mental health across the campus.”
When it comes to categories involving faculty, Brock improved three spots to 11th from 14th for faculty awards, and one spot for medical/science grants to 12th.
“I’m very pleased, though not at all surprised, to see that Brock’s relative ranking on faculty awards has risen considerably,” said Tim Kenyon, Vice-President, Research. “Brock University’s researchers, mentors and teachers have, in recent years, been receiving more formal recognition for their long-standing excellence.”
In his own research work, Kenyon has published on questions of institutional metrics and rankings and found that they can be a poor means of characterizing complex institutions. However, he said specific measures within overall rankings, such as those on faculty awards or student supports, can convey important information about universities.
Greg Finn, Interim Provost and Vice-President, Academic, said the improved numbers are also a reflection of increased student engagement at the University.
“Everyone at Brock is to be commended for their efforts over the past year in addressing the criteria under which Maclean’s base their annual University rankings,” he said. “I would like to point out that Brock experienced a more than 600 per cent increase in the participation rate of our students as they responded to initial surveys related to students’ input, on which the rankings are based.”
The Maclean’s results show a commitment to the overall Brock experience.
“From student-centred approaches to teaching, to experiential learning in and out of the classroom, to our support for student success, our focus is to provide the best possible educational experience for all our students so they can thrive when they are here and after they graduate,” said James Mandigo, Vice-Provost, Enrolment Management and International. “These results are a reflection of that commitment.”