What university should I attend? Will my degree be worth it? Every year, these questions are on the minds of prospective students as they think about enrolling for the fall.
Fortunately, many different tools are available for students to help them decide which university best serves their interests.
Various ranking systems and other online tools, such as universitystudy.ca, can help people sort through available post-secondary options.
One of the least known and most underrated tools, however, may be the BC Student Outcomes Survey, conducted by the provincial government.
It provides valuable insights into the experiences, achievements and challenges faced by students at British Columbia’s post-secondary institutions.
The survey explores a wide range of topics, including student satisfaction, employability and transition to the workforce, which are of great interest to students, educators, policymakers and employers.
By conducting the survey annually, the government tracks changes in student outcomes over time, providing a more accurate understanding of the long-term impact of policies, programs and institutional practices.
The results of the 2022 survey, which looked at two years, were recently released and can be found on the B.C. government’s website at outcomes.bcstats.gov.bc.ca.
The tool allows people to quickly compare schools and filter results by student group, program area and program names. The results are compiled in a way that would enable people to gain real-world insights into the value of post-secondary education, both generally and from specific institutions.
For example, the survey reveals that across all institutions in B.C., 88 per cent of the 29,452 people who graduated with a bachelor’s degree and responded to the survey are working full-time, with 76 per cent of them working in a job related to their program. A full 86 per cent of respondents said the knowledge and skills gained in their education were useful in performing their jobs.
Those are impressive numbers and point to the value of post-secondary education.
The survey, however, allows for more targeted results on a school-by-school basis.
For example, the survey shows TRU scored above the provincial average regarding overall student satisfaction. Ninety-four per cent of TRU degree graduates surveyed were satisfied or very satisfied with the education received. Some TRU graduates, such as those in human and social services programs, were 98 per cent satisfied.
In terms of employability and workforce readiness, TRU also demonstrated strong results, with a higher percentage of graduates securing employment within six months of graduation, compared to the provincial average.
The 2022 BC Student Outcomes Survey results validates TRU’s dedication to student success and the university’s continuing efforts to innovate and adapt in the face of ever-changing educational and employment landscapes.
The survey is helpful to more than students. TRU uses the data to ensure what we are doing meets the needs of today’s learners.
The results inform program reviews, faculty development, program selection, career planning, student advising and marketing programs.
The provincial government uses the results to build accountability frameworks, ministry service plans, new policies and labour supply models.
Employers can use the survey data to understand the skills and competencies of B.C.’s post-secondary graduates and identify potential areas where additional training or support may be needed. By collaborating with educational institutions to address these gaps, employers can help create a more skilled and adaptable workforce better equipped to meet the demands of a rapidly changing economy.
The survey also allows stakeholders to benchmark the performance of post-secondary institutions against national and international standards.
This can help identify areas in which improvements are necessary and highlight best practices that can be adopted across the province.
Most importantly, however, the tool provides objective feedback to current and prospective students about their options. People can learn what past students thought about their experience at a school, figure out what program to choose, plan their careers and learn about the employment outcomes of previous students.
The value of the survey shouldn’t be ignored. The insights it provides serve as a foundation for continuous improvement and innovation in the post-secondary education system, ensuring that the educational landscape in British Columbia remains dynamic, adaptable, and responsive to the evolving needs of students and the broader community.
Dr. Brett Fairbairn is president and vice-chancellor at Thompson Rivers University. He can be reached by email at email@example.com. View From TRU columns appear monthly in KTW and online at kamloopsthisweek.com.