With 41,000 students (36,000 undergrads) on a campus that is only 0.5 km by 1 km, you would think that it would feel squashed. But the University of Ottawa feels surprisingly spacious, despite being very much an urban university only 10 minutes walk from downtown Ottawa. The buildings go up instead of out, but the planners have consciously incorporated outdoor elements inside in their mix of old and new structures, with water features, living walls, and rooftop gardens adding to the mix. They have also recently built a new stadium and continue to have a strong athletic programme with 11 varsity “Gee-Gee” teams.
As a bilingual university students can take classes in either – or both – French or English and write exams or papers in the language of choice. Two thirds of the students at the university are English, one third are French, but many choose to take enough coursework in the other language to secure the bilingual degree status. Keen to promote the bilingual diploma, there are entrance and in-course scholarships earmarked for students who choose this path. Notoriously generous, the university doles out $30 million in scholarship money each year to its domestic and international students, and maintains a very handy scholarship and bursary database.
Still on the money theme, the university also boasts the second largest co-op education programme in province and the third largest in Canada. Students will earn an average of $35 000 during 16 month of co op placements and often find work with one of their co-op employers upon graduation. An 80% average upon entering the university reserves a spot in the program and students would be well-advised to consider taking part, but there are also work-study positions on campus and lots of student jobs available in the surrounding area.
The university is well recognized for its strong science program, which is housed in a fantastic new facility. There is also a medical school, a small but mighty engineering program, the possibility of life sciences minor with any major (good for budding doctors with other undergraduate interests!), and a new building going up for geosciences. Of course, with its location just minutes away from the Houses of Parliament in our nation’s capital, it is no surprise that political science and communications are also strong programs; perhaps some of our elected officials might consider taking a refresher course, or two?