Since my first year at the University of Calgary, I have become accustomed to the annual shock and outrage expressed by students and other Calgarians as the U of C's reputation sinks lower and lower in Maclean's annual ranking of Canadian universities. How anyone could possibly be shocked at the university's poor standing is beyond me.
Students at the University of Calgary are not seen as leaders of academic excellence. Though admission will be capped in future years, high school students have been permitted entry to most faculties with averages of 60 per cent (including the faculties of Kinesiology and Management). Once accepted to the U of C, students may be taught by professors without PhDs, and graduate after four years of pulling off straight Cs. In other words, the U of C would love to offer any idiot who can make it out of high school the chance to earn a degree.
To prove his poor understanding of this problem, U of C President Harvey Weingarten suggests that differential tuition will improve the university's prestige. If by prestige Weingarten means the number of buildings on campus, then yes, differential tuition is sure to accomplish this purpose. Coinciding with annual tuition hikes, the last two years have seen the construction of two Information Technology complexes and the initial building stages of the new Children's Hospital. It's nice to know university administration knows where to put students' money. After all, what good is a bachelor degree from a credible post-secondary institution if we don't have big shiny buildings and attractive parking lots to prove how great we are? Perhaps Weingarten should re-assess his plan to better the university.
Instead of admitting anyone and everyone with the ability to fill out an application, U of C will certainly benefit from raising admission standards. Though easy admission to university raises the number of people with a general education, there are better places for students with low grades; community college exists for a reason. Also, channeling tuition into programs and investing in professors with PhDs rather than expanding campus facilities can only improve the quality of education the U of C offers. Otherwise, these expensive new buildings will be over-run with masses of students with 2.00 GPAs. Weingarten needs to decide if he's running a school or building an empire.
Understandably, the university's low standing discourages students, especially true academic leaders who are trapped under the umbrella of the school's bad name. However, if the U of C wants a reputation of academic excellence, it must be earned. Assuming Maclean's ranking is unwarranted will only earn us 15th place next year.