University Rankings

Canada’s Top Comprehensive University 2021: Simon Fraser

SFU considers student wellness to be as important as planetary health. The school has green-lit a support program that aims to counter the long wait times that students endure to see a therapist—and the virtual appointments are pandemic-friendly.

Perhaps the best word to describe a Simon Fraser (SFU) education is “worldly,” and we do mean that literally. The university boasts eight faculties, 100 undergraduate and 45 graduate degree programs, and three campuses that dot the West Coast (in Surrey, B.C., Burnaby, B.C., and Vancouver). Choice is the name of the game. So is sustainability: SFU has committed to a zero-waste policy and has introduced a five-year sustainability plan aimed at slashing the university’s carbon footprint and shifting half of its energy use to renewable sources by 2025.

Eco-consciousness is reflected in SFU’s programs, too. The Surrey campus’s sustainable energy engineering program, new in 2019, is the first of its kind in Western Canada, and it covers everything from the ins and outs of sustainable manufacturing to food creation. SFU’s just-launched School of Environmental Science aims to equip the climate warriors of the future (and, ideally, the present) with an interdisciplinary education that includes forays into policy, law, ethics and economics.

For those who crave an “exchange program” type of worldliness, SFU’s certificate in creative technologies in digital journalism may be of interest. Combining courses in publishing, communications and contemporary arts, the program offers students the chance to enjoy the idyllic beaches of Australia’s Gold Coast during a semester abroad. And if you prefer the creature comforts of home, SFU Burnaby’s forthcoming $55-milion, 100,000-sq.-foot Student Union Building will feature lounges, study areas, meeting rooms and a recreational room with pool tables.

SFU considers student wellness to be as important as planetary health. Following a successful two-year pilot partnership with the Simon Fraser Student Society, the university’s My Student Support Program (My SSP) has been green-lit for another three years. Aiming to counter the long wait times that students endure to see a therapist, My SSP connects SFU’s students with counsellors via a mobile app—at no cost. Services are available in six languages, and the virtual appointments are pandemic-friendly.

For 2020’s fall term, SFU has launched the HIVE program (Home for Interactive Virtual Engagement), a new online resource. It aims to counteract the isolating effects of COVID by bringing together students of similar faculties, classes and time zones for icebreakers and “social” activities. It more or less functions as a virtual, months-long orientation week.

One legacy project that underscores SFU’s commitment to global interdependence is the First Peoples’ Gathering House. Announced in June and co-funded by the B.C. government, the centre will be built on the Burnaby campus (and completed by 2023), and it will function as a large ceremonial facility with a classroom, an Elders room, a wellness space and a multi-generational lounge to celebrate Indigenous knowledge and culture.

Correction: A previous version of this article mistakenly referred to SFU Burnaby building a “UniverCity” with a market, shops and restaurants. The school has plans for a new Student Union Building, which the article now reflects.

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