Scarborough getting shafted

A recently released report contains some startling findings about U of T’s Scarborough campus. Among them: students at UTSC get lower marks on average than students elsewhere.

Two-thirds of UTSC students report receving average grades of B- and lower. At similar schools (the survey grouped UTSC with Carleton and Ryerson), only 55 per cent of students get such marks. And only four per cent of UTSC students get mostly A’s and A+’s, compared to 10 per cent elsewhere.

These findings come from a 2006 survey by the Canadian Undergraduate Survey Consortium, which quizzed 497 fourth-year students at Scarborough.

For Rob Wulkan, the VP academics at SCSU, the lower marks come as no surprise.

“Over the years there has been a gradual grade inflation at other institutions,” he said. “But at UTSC we have the same grade scheme.” Twenty per cent of marks at UTSC fall in the A range.

As a result, SCSU is lobbying U of T administrators to overhaul its grading scheme, hoping to upgrade their academic showing.

“It’s not that UTSC students are dumber than students at other universities-professors are grading harder,” said Wulkan. “A B+ from UTSC is actually a good mark.”

But that is not the only interesting finding of the CUSC survey. For instance, almost two-thirds of UTSC respondents are female. More than half of them (52 per cent) are self-identified visible minorities.

And seven out of 10 respondents said they still live with their parents.

“There’s a very heavy concentration of UTSC students who live within a close proximity of campus,” said Wulkan. Many UTSC students come from poor families. “UTSC has a reputation of being the OSAP capital of Ontario,” he quipped.

But, if anything, UTSC students are more involved in campus life than their colleagues elsewhere. Three out of five fourth-year students surveyed said they participated in clubs. And they have fiery tempers. More than 1,700 UTSCers-a fifth of the total student body-signed a petition protesting the denial of tenure for Robert Campbell, a popular religion prof.

“Professor Campbell was a really popular professor on this campus,” recalled Wulkan, saying that Campbell “was like a father figure” to many of the students.

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