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by Amanda-Marie Quintino 

This spring, Ryerson students will be filling out a survey that President Sheldon Levy hopes will help improve the university.

As a trial, Ryerson is participating in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) in an attempt to see where the university’s strengths and weaknesses lie, as perceived by the students.

Levy said he plans to use the survey results to gauge where the university needs improvement and which areas are being carried out effectively.

“It gives you a benchmark,” Levy said. “If you know what you are today, then you can begin to see how improvement is being made.”

The NSSE is dedicated to providing a place for students to offer feedback about their school and its services. The survey is administered by Indiana University and sponsored by grants from Philadephia-based non-profit organizations such as Lumina Foundation for Education and The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Ryerson is one of 400 Canadian post-secondary schools taking part in the survey this spring.

“The National Survey of Student Engagement is a survey specially designed for students like you to provide information about your college experience, including your views about the quality of your education and how you spend your time,” reads NSSE’s website.

Eugene Lau, a first-year mechanical engineering student at Ryerson, said he remembers filling out surveys while studying at the University of Waterloo. What he does not recall, however, is seeing any improvements after the survey results were in.

“I’ve taken surveys many times (that asked me) to evaluate my teachers and school and nothing has ever been done to improve the conditions and environment of my studies,” he said.

He thinks NSSE won’t be any different.

But Levy is optimistic.

“I really do hope it becomes an exercise of helping institutions become better,” he said. “I hope, not only for Ryerson, but for Ontario, that this does not become a ranking exercise.”

He said he worries institutions might capitalize on their success in certain areas, and neglect to make improvements where students report weaknesses.

“I really do hope (the survey) becomes a force for improvement and…not simply a promotional vehicle,” said Levy.

But despite these concerns, Levy said he sees the survey as an opportunity.

“I hope…it can demonstrate to the government and to the people of Ontario that when you provide additional investment into post-secondary, you get results,” he said.

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