Last year, the University of the Fraser Valley was one of several Canadian post-secondary institutions that participated in the Canadian University Survey Consortium. The survey polled students in their middle years of bachelor programs about their experiences at university, and what they thought their university was doing well or poorly at.
The survey sorted universities into three groups based on relative student population, and extent of studies offered. UFV was categorized into Group 1, which consists of colleges and universities that have small student populations, and offer primarily undergraduate studies.
A higher percentage of UFV students report being employed than other students in Group 1 universities. Seventy-seven per cent of UFV students work and go to school at the same time, compared to 65 per cent in Group 1. UFV students also work two more hours on average than Group 1 universities, and four more hours than the general average.
On one hand, fewer UFV students report being in debt, with 67 per cent of UFV students reporting having no debt, compared to 59 per cent generally, and 54 per cent in Group 1. What debt they do have is also lower, with the average debt for UFV students being $17,590, compared to the over $24,000 of debt both generally and in Group 1.
However, a higher percentage of students claim that working while taking classes negatively affects their academic performance, with 53 per cent of UFV students reporting negative effects, compared to 46 per cent both generally and in Group 1.
It was found that the highest portion of UFV students live with parents, guardians, or other relatives, with 64 per cent of students having this living arrangement, compared to 43 per cent for Group 1 schools, and 36 per cent for all universities. Thirty-three per cent of UFV students own or rent their own home, while only two per cent use on-campus housing.
Overall, ratings of professors by UFV students were mostly positive, with average scores being in the 80s and 90s, and with no average score lower than 70 in any specific area. One area where professors are lagging behind is in terms of giving feedback to their students, and making them feel valued and cared for as students, and as people. UFV students also complained that they had very few opportunities to evaluate their teachers.
Nearly three-quarters of UFV students drive to and from campus alone, with an additional 10 per cent driving in private vehicles with others. This is much higher than the rate for Group 1 (46 per cent alone, 11 per cent with others), and universities overall (28 per cent alone, seven per cent with others).
While students reported that they were for the most part satisfied with their educational experience at UFV and would recommend the university for others looking to attend, a little over one-fifth of respondents stated that they “did not feel they belong” at UFV. Students criticized the lack of campus culture and community.
“There is no ‘campus life,’ and it is hard to make friends since it is a commuting university, where people drive out to attend class, and then leave immediately after class is over,” said one student. “There aren’t many activities that attract a lot of attention, and therefore there is no compelling reason to spend more time on campus than necessary.”
Other complaints included inconvenient scheduling, and shortage of seats in classes, resulting in students having to spend more time before completing their studies.