Are UW’s entrance scholarships effective?

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While you may question how important the Canadian Senate is to your everyday life, there is a senate closer to home that might be worth paying attention to: the one on campus.

The university senate is the highest academic decision-making body at UWaterloo. All things ‘educational’ must be approved by senate, including the budget, degree requirements, program changes, faculty appointments, academic regulations, teaching and learning initiatives, and co-op policies. Senate is composed of about 90 members including a majority of faculty and nine undergraduate students.

We are your at-large representatives on senate. In addition to attending monthly senate meetings, we sit on various university committees. We advocate on behalf of students regarding almost any issue you may encounter on campus.  Throughout the rest of this academic year, we hope to use Imprint as a way to keep you in the loop on the most relevant student issues discussed at senate and other campus committees. We encourage you to contact us if you have any concerns you’d like to share.

At the September meeting, senators received an enrolment update. Despite current demographic trends (a province-wide ‘slump’ in our current intake population), Waterloo’s admissions averages and total first-year enrolment continue to increase. Overall, this is an encouraging trend, but it does not come without its challenges.

One area of concern is the effectiveness of Waterloo’s entrance scholarships. Of incoming students, 87 per cent received an award in 2016. Waterloo now has the highest admissions average in the province (this year, the number of first-years receiving top-tier entrance prizes increased by 35 per cent), so the proportion of students receiving awards will continue to grow.

According to Maclean’s, Waterloo has the largest budget allocation for financial awards of any university in Canada! Yet the value of these awards at Waterloo is well below the provincial average. In other words, Waterloo gives out A LOT of small awards. So we must ask the question: are they significant enough to have a real effect on the number of students choosing to study here? Or would those funds be better used elsewhere?


Andrew Clubine and Sacha Forstner are the at-large undergraduate members of the university senate. Send them your thoughts at andrew.clubine@uwaterloo.ca or sforstner@uwaterloo.ca.

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