Maple League Universities: Higher education’s hidden asset
Smaller campuses can give students an equally memorable college experience.
Four Canadian universities are banding together and setting out to let students know that bigger doesn't necessarily mean better when it comes to a college education. In fact, the four universities - Acadia University, Bishop's University, Mount Allison University, and St. Francis Xavier University - are speaking out to bring more awareness to their (and other) smaller campuses around the country.
Why? According to the group that's adopted the term the "Maple League" in a nod to Ivy League schools in the US, the goal is to help showcase an alternative to the more common Canadian university experience at large urban campuses. The President of Bishop's University, Michael Goldbloom, stated “We’re not claiming that we’re Harvard or Princeton or Yale. But we do think that we share that same aspiration for excellence.”
Part of this new branding also comes from the group's shared concern about dwindling government funding for smaller campuses like theirs, in favour of larger universities that are constantly expanding their undergraduate admissions, and research and graduate programs. Their campuses, they argue, are small by design, to improve the educational experience and offer students programs that are tailored, niche, and highly focused on the learning experience.
In many large Canadian universities, it's not uncommon for first year students to take classes and lectures with hundreds of other students. That growing class size has some students concerned about their quality of learning. According to one McGill University graduate, "...there were times you couldn’t get a seat in the largest lecture hall at McGill." That's not an issue at the Maple League schools, and school leaders are pushing that as one of their biggest selling points. While class sizes in larger colleges can average 400 plus students, the Maple League schools' average first year class size is comprised of only 43 students.
While standing out in a crowd of large and well-funded universities can be difficult, Maple League schools say that the last three years have brought a lot of opportunities to shine light on all of the educational opportunities that smaller Canadian universities have to offer. And by banding together and helping educate potential students on some of the benefits they can enjoy with a smaller, more intimate campus, they've been able to attract higher calibre students from all over the world.
The Maple League has shown universities that a small campus can be a strong selling point for attracting new students that want a more personal and tailored approach to their education. And, for students, the benefits of studying abroad on a small, intimate campus can be limitless - from one-on-one attention from professors, to building strong long-lasting relationships with other students.