Cash for student services near the bottom: Maclean’s

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By Julianna Cummins

Ryerson is second to last out of 22 schools when it comes to the funding they dedicate to student services, according to Maclean’s magazine’s ranking of Canadian universities for this year. The report found that Ryerson allocated 3.8 per cent of their operating expenditures to student services, placing it above only Lakehead University and the University of Prince Edward Island which are tied for last place among primarily undergraduate schools. However, Heather Lane Vetere, vice provost students, noted that different universities define student services in different ways, which can skew schools’ rankings in reports like the one from Maclean’s. “We may find that in the next survey, our percentage is higher, because I’m not sure if we included all the money we’ve actually spent as an institution,” Vetere said. For example, at Ryerson, some career guidance and placement services are offered within individual faculties, but spending in these departments may not have been included in the totals that were submitted in the last Maclean’s report. Typically, student services are thought of as the umbrella of offerings that are run through Vetere’s office. These include units such as the Access Centre and Health Promotion. But Vetere isn’t sure exactly what was included for Maclean’s guide since the magazine used financial information provided by an outside source, not data directly from her department. Vetere did note that funding for student services is stretched because of budget cuts, and they’ve faced difficulties in handling demands for some services, such as the Access Centre. Christina Halliday, the director of student learning support at Ryerson, said that she was not alarmed by the Maclean’s rankings, noting that the school did well on the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), a national survey that evaluates student participation in on-campus activites and programs. “While this suggests that we are not at the top in terms of funding student services, it doesn’t mean to me that Ryerson is doing a bad job in terms of meeting student’s need and ensuring that students feel like they are supported within the curriculum,” said Halliday of the findings. Ryerson President Sheldon Levy said NSSE is a more scientific comparison of universities “I believe the whole exercise is to sell magazines, I do not think the information is valid, and even when we do well…I doubt we’re that good.” Levy said of the Maclean’s rankings. *** Other Maclean’s stats from the 2010 Guide to Canadian Universities Library funding Ryerson ranks at the bottom of the list, with just 3.3 per cent of our budget devoted to library services Scholarships and bursaries We’re in the lower end of average here, with 4 per cent of our budget alloted for these forms of financial aid

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