Mentions in the News

There were a couple of unexpected mentions of Waterloo on the international stage recently.  In the first one, our Prime Minister Trudeau used Waterloo as an example of Canadian creativity and innovation, at the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland.  A video clip from that part of his speech is below.  The Prime Minister points to our high intellectual standards, focus on entrepreneurship, and diversity.  (I should clarify that when he says that 50% of our graduate engineering students are international, he’s referring to our Masters and PhD students.  As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, we have only a bit less than 15% of our available undergraduate spaces available for visa students.)

In his speech, the Prime Minister refers to Sam Altman, President of Y Combinator, a Silicon Valley startup funder and mentoring program.  Here is a video interview he did to explain why he is so interested in Waterloo students.

In another mention, British actress and UN Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson mentions the HeForShe IMPACT Scholarships Waterloo launched last year, in support of increasing math and engineering gender balance.

Overall, it’s always nice for universities to attract attention for good reasons.


English Proficiency Requirements

For applicants whose first language is not English we have a set of proficiency requirements.  Details are on this website (English Language Requirements), but in summary we are looking for TOEFL scores of 90 and higher (with at least 25 Writing and Speaking), or IELTS scores of at least 6.5 overall (with 6.5 Writing and Speaking and 6.0  in other bands) (see that website for other test system requirements).  For Engineering admissions, we’ve been pretty strict about the scores and regularly reject people who don’t meet them (no matter what their other grades are like).  This is because our co-op work experience starts right away in first year, so we need students to be as fluent as possible so that they can have interviews, get jobs and have a successful work term with the employer.  There is no time to try to learn better English as you start our program.

Some universities have programs that you can sign up for to improve English proficiency.  We don’t, but in the last couple of years we have been testing a couple of special programs, called BASE and iBASE .  You can’t actually apply directly for these programs, they are by invitation only, and are for applicants to our engineering programs who have excellent academic credentials but come up short on the English proficiency tests.  So for these applicants, if they successfully complete the BASE or iBASE program they will be automatically enrolled in the engineering program they were aiming for.  Let’s look at these programs in a bit more detail. Continue reading

Visit to Qatar

Here’s an update from our Associate Director of Engineering Admissions, Ally Morrow, who is currently meeting with prospective applicants and parents in the Gulf region, as mentioned in a previous post.

We have final arrangements for the Study in Canada fair in Qatar.  It will be on Sunday October 25th from 5:00 to 9:00 pm at the Mercure Grand Hotel, Musherib Street, Doha.  If you’re in the area we hope to see you there.

Visiting Persian Gulf Countries

Here is a guest post by our Associate Director of Engineering Admissions, who spends a few weeks each year travelling to select countries to inform students, parents and teachers about Waterloo Engineering.  In October 2015 she is in the Persian Gulf area (also known as the Arabian Gulf).  If you are in one of these countries, feel free to attend an event and say hello.

Hello everyone!

My name is Ally Morrow and I am the Associate Director for Admissions for the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Waterloo. I am lucky enough to work alongside Professor Bill Anderson for the Faculty of Engineering to implement policies and help make decisions on admissions. I also manage international undergraduate recruitment activities for Engineering, travelling around the globe to promote the University of Waterloo and Canadian education. Next week I will be traveling to the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait. I will be participating in Education Fairs in the following cities: Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait City. It would be wonderful for those of you who are in the area to come by and say “hello”. I would be more than happy to provide you with information about our engineering programs as well as studying in Canada. This will be my second time visiting the area, I am looking forward to another great experience and to meeting you!

I have listed the Education fair dates and locations below:

Abu Dhabi FairAlly Morrow
Monday October 19th  5:00pm-9:00pm
Le Royal Meridien Hotel Abu Dhabi

Dubai Fair
Wednesday October 21st   5:00pm-9:00pm
Crowne Plaza Hotel Dubai

Kuwait City Fair
Tuesday October 27th  5:00pm-9:00pm
Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel Kuwait

See you soon!


Engineering Tuition Bargains

I have been meaning to do a comparison of US and Canadian tuition costs for a while, and now a U.S. News article has come out describing the benefits of doing a degree in Canada (presumably aimed at Americans).  So it’s a good time to complete my comparison.

First thing to point out, since 2014 the exchange rate between U.S. and Canadian dollars has shifted significantly.  Where they were once nearly equal, now $1 Canadian is worth about $0.76 U.S.  So if you have income or savings in US dollars, that’s how you can get the big bargain (about 30% more for your dollar!).

Next, which schools should we compare?  Although I don’t particularly like rankings and question their value for selecting an undergraduate education, lots of prospective international student and parents do use them.  So I decided to use the 2014 QS Rankings for Engineering & Technology, centering on Waterloo with a few universities above and below our ranking.  Here are the results of my survey, converting Canadian to US dollars where appropriate: Continue reading

Canada versus U.S.

"Flags-of-usa-and-canada" by Makaristos - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -, when Canadians speak of “Canada vs. U.S.” here it is with reference to a hockey series.  However, in celebration of Canada Day (July 1) and Independence Day (July 4) holidays, here I’m going to point out a few differences in terminology and other things that you might run across when looking at engineering programs at Canadian and U.S. post-secondary institutions. (these are based on my observations, and there will be exceptions of course, because this is a huge and complex topic) Continue reading

Innovation Track Record

There was a recent article in the New York Times about the panic and anxiety surrounding applicants trying to get into the “elite” U.S. schools like Stanford and Harvard.  It contains this interesting little comment:

I also spoke with Sam Altman, the president of Y Combinator, one of the best-known providers of first-step seed money for tech start-ups. I asked him if any one school stood out in terms of students and graduates whose ideas took off. “Yes,” he responded, and I was sure of the name I’d hear next: Stanford. It’s his alma mater, though he left before he graduated, and it’s famous as a feeder of Silicon Valley success.

But this is what he said: “The University of Waterloo.” It’s a public school in the Canadian province of Ontario, and as of last summer, it was the source of eight proud ventures that Y Combinator had helped along. “To my chagrin,” Altman told me, “Stanford has not had a really great track record.”

Here is the link to the full article.