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REF NO.: 17

SUBJECT: Opinion survey indicates people of the province view their university positively and place higher value on higher education than Canadian counterparts
DATE: Oct. 18, 2007

The results are in. The people of this province regard their university, Memorial University of Newfoundland, favorably and believe more strongly in the value of a university-level education than their Canadian counterparts.
These were just some of the results coming out of a public opinion survey undertaken by Memorial in July 2007. The survey was conducted using questions that had also been used in 2004 and 1997, with minor updating. One multi-part question was added: It was drawn from a national public opinion survey about universities conducted by the Association of Universities and Colleges Canada (AUCC).
OmniFacts Market Research conducted the data collection (and preliminary analysis) via a phone survey of 800 respondents in Newfoundland and Labrador. Memorial’s Centre for Institutional Analysis and Planning conducted the data analysis and prepared the final report.
“Overall the results are not significantly different from those in previous years,” said Dr. Axel Meisen, president of Memorial.
“I am pleased that the public’s view of Memorial clearly remains very positive and supportive. A public opinion survey is only a snapshot in time of a population’s thoughts, but the views collected in this survey echo what we heard in our recent public consultations for strategic planning and in regular feedback we receive in less formal ways. I have always maintained that Memorial University is one of the province’s strongest assets, one that contributes to the economic, social and cultural development of this province. I am encouraged to see that the people of the province value this institution so highly.”
Memorial periodically asks the people of the province for their opinions of the institution through a survey. This survey was conducted in early July 2007, as well as in 2004 and in 1997. This survey complements a number of other feedback mechanisms that Memorial employs, including student surveys, graduate surveys, public consultations on strategic planning, and meetings with community-based, professional, governmental and other groups.
The survey indicates that Memorial University continues to be valued highly by the people of the province. There appeared to be little change in the attitudes since the 2004 and 1997 surveys. Highlights of the survey results – which are available at www.mun.ca/marcomm/public_affairs/ – include:

·                   82 per cent of the 800 respondents indicated that they are likely to recommend Memorial to others. Location and reputation are the top reasons why respondents said they would recommend Memorial; other frequently cited factors were quality of programs and teaching, and cost.

·                   61 per cent agree or strongly agree that Memorial is operated in a cost-effective manner (62 per cent in 2004; 48 per cent in 1997).

·                   75 per cent disagree or strongly disagree that public funding for Memorial should be decreased (75 per cent in 2004; 72 per cent in 1997).

·                   89 per cent agree or strongly agree that Memorial’s research and development produces many economic benefits for the province (89 per cent in 2004; 79 per cent in 1997).

·                   87 per cent agree or strongly agree that Memorial’s research and development produces many cultural benefits for the province.

·                   81 per cent agree or strongly agree that Memorial’s research capabilities are among the best in the world (81 per cent in 2004).

The people of this province have stronger positive views about the value of university education than others in Canada (provincial data compared with national data on same question – 82 per cent versus 72 per cent).
They also believe more strongly that government should spend more to enhance the quality of the education experience of students at university (95 per cent versus 71 per cent).
Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are more convinced than other Canadians of the long-terms benefits of university research activities (96 per cent versus 83 per cent). Ninety-four per cent of the people surveyed in this province believe that government should invest more to support university research, compared to 75 per cent nationally.
Study abroad and work abroad programs and other means to prepare students for success in a globalized world were supported by 90 per cent of those surveyed in this province versus 71 per cent of other Canadians. Eighty-nine per cent of people here (versus 59 per cent in other parts of Canada) indicated that universities help students develop the international skills needed in today’s labour market.
On the value for money question, 82 per cent of the people surveyed here (versus 63 per cent of Canadians elsewhere) agreed that considering the cost of a university education as well as the training and skills obtained, a university education offers excellent value for money. This may reflect Memorial’s modest tuition fees, about $2,500 per year, and the relatively lower cost of living in Newfoundland and Labrador.
For more information on the national survey by AUCC, see www.aucc.ca/_pdf/english/media/strategic_counsel_report_april132007_e.pdf.
The results of the Newfoundland and Labrador survey are considered accurate to within +/-3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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