FLAWED SURVEY influences Rye decisions

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By Julianna Cummins

Budget and infrastructure decisions are reflecting the desires of primarily female students from the Faculty of Communication and Design.

In fall 2007, Ryerson University and the Canadian Undergraduate Survey Consortium (CUSC) surveyed 1,000 of 3,218 first-year students who were entering university directly from high school. However, only 308 students filled out the questionnaire.

Over a third of the respondents were from the Faculty of Communication and Design and almost 70 percent of them were female.

According to a report by University Planning, the results are used by university administrators, Deans and academic departments to evaluate student experience and shape the budget process.

It is also one of the student surveys that Ryerson uses for planning and decision-making because it provides insight into the first-year student experience on a range of topics. Improving study space on campus has become a priority in response to survey results.

“This is a snap shot of 300 students you ask, not the people you want to ask, which is all 3000 students,” said Nancy Reid, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Department of Statistics.

“With a response rate like this, the margin of error for the results would be plus or minus six per cent,” said Reid.

The integrity of a survey requires more than just a small margin of error she said.

“When you get too many students of the same faculty replying, it’s not representative of the whole student body. Common sense is more essential than six or seven percentage points.”

The survey had more than 100 questions that asked students’ opinions on a wide range of topics: from overall perception of Ryerson to how ‘welcomed’ they internally felt to how satisfied they were with university services.

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