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By Karen Herland
Two years of surveys and focus groups is helping Brad Tucker, Director of Institutional Planning, develop a clearer picture of Concordia in numbers, graphs, and ideas as seen by people both inside and outside the Concordia community.
“What is really striking is how content students are with the quality of their experience at Concordia. Students tell us that they are getting what they feel they want and need,” Tucker said.
These results are consistent across the board. Grad students are enthusiastic about recommending the university. “Students love being here,” Tucker said.
Our determination to be an approachable university, one that provides opportunities that other institutions might not, brings a unique set of challenges. “We are helping people in ways that require more from the institution. More in terms of time, in terms of mentorship and in terms of peer support.”
Those intangibles are not easily measured, nor are they adequately taken into account in the current method used for funding higher education in Quebec. “We take the hand we’re dealt and we give students as good an experience as we possibly can.”
Overall, students who initially choose Concordia tend to think that this is a good fit for them, and they stay here. We have impressive results in terms of how quickly our graduates find work either in or related to their field of study. We also are doing well in terms of fundraising. Donations have increased, and Concordia’s endowment has risen to over $2,300 per full-time student equivalent.
But Tucker acknowledges that there is much that Concordia must do to improve. “Students may be satisfied with their experience here, but we will nevertheless continue to enrich their experience significantly.”
Indeed, Concordia is poised for growth and change. For instance, the university is aggressively working to increase its research profile.
“The opportunity to work with professors who are internationally acknowledged experts is an exciting one that we want to be able to offer to more students.
“We have enough data to get started. The question is always, what do we do first?” Tucker sees retention (“generally, not just students, but also professors and staff”) as a key issue in the coming years.
“While the entire Concordia community is essential to our success, full-time professors act as key drivers. They bring in external funding and establish national and international teaching and research profiles that drive graduate student enrolment and, in turn, raise the university’s reputation and profile.” Thus, finding ways to ensure that Concordia provides these professors with an environment in which they can thrive is also a priority.
Tucker is optimistic that the current strategic initiative process will provide opportunities for the Concordia community to work together to develop a roadmap that will help us get to where we would like to be.
“We need to feel like we are all working together towards common goals.”