Even with all the operating challenges that accompanied a pandemic year, UFV was recently recognized as a top-tier International post secondary institution by Quacquarelli Symonds Limited (QS), a global higher education research company behind one of the most respected university rankings systems in the world.
QS Stars is a university rating system that helps prospective students select the right university based on topics important to them. Each institution receives an overall rating of 0 to 5 stars, as well as 0 to 5 stars in at least eight of 13 key categories.
In 2021, UFV received a four-star rating as an overall institution. In addition, the university scored five-star marks in the Teaching, Employability, Internalization, Online Learning, and Inclusiveness categories.
“Achieving these prestigious ratings is a testament to the university’s commitment to excellence,” says David McGuire, associate vice president of International at UFV. “There is a sense of pride at UFV. People work very hard here, everyone from the faculty, staff right through to the students.”
Niranjana Geetha, an International student from Kerala, India, started her journey at UFV in the winter of 2021. She has been impressed with the university’s ability to be flexible and empathetic to students’ needs.
“My experience with UFV has been amazing,” said Geetha, who is registered in the Business Administration (Aviation) diploma program. “I started my studies during the pandemic, and I completed two of my semesters from my home country. The faculty of UFV knew that many students were stuck in their home country during the pandemic and were not able to travel to Canada, and hence the faculty have been considerate with the time difference and were helping a lot since everyone was nervous about the start of their university life becoming completely online.”
This is not the first time UFV achieved high QS Stars scores. In 2018, UFV also received an overall four-star rating, as well as five-star scores in both the Teaching and Employability categories. This time, in addition to those categories, the university added top marks for Internationalization, Online Learning, and Inclusiveness.
“The QS Stars rating system recognizes UFV’s strengths as a world-class university across a broader set of criteria that can’t be measured by any traditional ranking systems,” said Raluca Grigorescu, product manager at QS. “These results emphasize where the institution excels and UFV’s commitment to improve over time, enhancing its rating in three areas of the audit since 2018.”
According to Grigorescu, QS Stars conducts a comprehensive audit of a university’s performance, and each category is made up of several indicators which cover a wide variety of performance. In order to complete the assessment, the institutions are asked to provide data, personal statements, and supporting evidence.
“Gathering data was particularly challenging this year with the pandemic, but we had a tremendous amount of help from Vlad Dvoracek and his incredible team in Institutional Research & Planning,” says McGuire, noting his colleague, Walter Foreman, associate director of International Relations, worked tirelessly to navigate the process.
On top of the difficulties associated with UFV being largely remote during the pandemic, completing the QS Stars re-audit was also difficult because of the departure of long-tenured faculty and staff to early retirement. The project lead during the last audit in 2018, John Potts, had been with UFV since the Fraser Valley College days. His departure meant McGuire and team had to revise the data collection process.
“I think that the expectation because of the loss in historical knowledge was a little bit lower,” McGuire says. “But surprisingly, we ended up going quite a bit higher in rankings than we did last time. And we were within striking distance of five stars overall, which is truly something to warrant patting ourselves on the back as an institution.”
“The end result is not just the five stars,” says Foreman. “Of course, that’s nice to have, but we also want to legitimately improve those sectors.”
In a section called Program Strength, UFV scored an average of three stars, but within that assessment received 40 out of 40 points on student satisfaction.
“That speaks very highly to one of UFV’s many strengths, and that is our teaching, our relationship with students, and the great work that our instructors and faculty members do,” McGuire says.
McGuire and Foreman know that QS Stars will not only bring International recognition and validation to UFV, but will help create opportunities for partnerships, new funding sources, and attracting students globally.
“Everybody at UFV knows how good UFV is, and that’s why they’re here,” says Foreman. “But if we don’t communicate that to the world, we’ll just be the best kept secret in the Fraser Valley.
“And I think that’s one of the things that the QS Stars rating helps us do, is get that message out.”