According to the Office of the Registrar, Western’s current entrance average is just above 85 per cent, putting it above the Ontario average of 81.5 per cent and below only a handful of Canadian schools.
“The entrance average is really good — I believe we have the highest average for science of 87 or 88 per cent,” said Shane Gonsalves, University Students’ Council VP-education.
In addition, Western is consistently rated highly in reputation and academics compared to other Ontario schools. The Globe and Mail recently gave Western the highest overall grades of any university with more than 25,000 students.
Gonsalves said people might think Western students are less than stellar academics because of Western’s party-school reputation. However, he noted Western has an excellent reputation for its graduate and professional schools, as well as its high-calibre research facilities.
“We offer the best student experience,” Gonsalves said. “It is the best of both worlds; parents are impressed by Western having the best student experience, but students can appreciate this means an atmosphere that is more fun than other schools.”
In terms of the “University of Wealthy Ontarians” label Gonsalves felt this could be attributed to the large number of students from the Greater Toronto Area, one of Ontario’s wealthiest regions.
He conceded the number of Western students receiving financial aid is lower than most schools, but it is still significant. In the 2004-05 school year, just over a third of Western students received OSAP, which is just slightly below the university average.
Western is an attractive destination for students requiring financial assistance. “Western’s scholarship program is very competitive compared to other universities,” said Glen Tigert of the Registrar’s Office.
“In 2004-05 we provided students with over 2,100 admission scholarships at a total value of more than $3,731,000,” he said. “In addition, we provide almost 2,200 upper-year awards and scholarships with a value of more than $4,700,000.”
It is difficult to pinpoint why Western can’t shake the negative stereotype. Despite what others think, Western students should be proud of their accomplishments. So, pop those collars, hike up those UGGs, and dispel those rumours.