Summary of the results from the student satisfaction survey with Faculty of Social Sciences services

Posted on Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Dear students,

Last April, I contacted all FSS undergraduates, asking you to share your experience with Faculty of Social Sciences services, and for your thoughts on how to improve the student experience.  Below, you will find a summary of the key findings.  Whereas I don’t think that you will be surprised by the results (we all know that wait times are too long), what is incredibly important is that we now have a baseline measure of how well we are doing at meeting student needs – and this will help us to invest resources wisely in the future. 

Importantly, your feedback is helping us to make changes.  Firstly, we are improving our response time to your emails.  At this point in time, most students are getting a response in less than a week…and our goal is to keep things this way!

Secondly, we are working hard to try and make it easier for you to obtain and submit numerous forms.  There is still a little testing to complete, but we expect to soon be able to give you access to numerous forms online.  This should save lots of time for many of you.

Thirdly, there are some important changes in the way in which the Undergraduate Studies Office will operate:  our Senior Officers whom you meet when you go into the USO are now able to deal with almost all academic needs.  In contrast, Academic Specialists will focus only on students who are on academic probation, or are required to withdraw from their program of studies. In other words, we’re now much more of a ‘one-stop shop’ and I’m sure that you’ll find this makes things much more efficient (More information on the USO).

 Fourthly - and best of all – we are getting two more staff members this fall! 

Other changes are in the works, but we’ll save those surprises until later in the year.  For now, I simply want to sincerely thank all those who responded to our survey last April:  your input was truly valued.  And I hope that when we send out our survey again next spring, that we will get an even higher response rate – and that you’ll be able to tell us that you can see that things are changing.

Best wishes for the fall!

Vicky Barham
Vice-Dean Undergraduate Studies and External Relations
Faculty of Social Science
University of Ottawa


In April 2018, the Faculty of Social Sciences sent its students a survey about the Faculty’s services. Below is a summary of the results.


A total of 850 anglophone students and 450 francophone students, encompassing students from all FSS programs and from first year to fourth year, completed the survey. There were a slightly higher number of respondents from third and fourth year than from the other years.


The survey was divided into four sections.

The first three sections touched on the following Faculty services:

  • Undergraduate Studies Office
  • Mentoring Centre
  • Student Mobility Office (faculty-sponsored international study opportunities)

The fourth section asked for feedback from respondents on what the Faculty of Social Sciences could do to improve the student experience.


  1. Undergraduate Studies Office (USO)

A little more than half the respondents had visited the USO in person to have problems resolved, most commonly with respect to enrolment (course selection, courses with no spaces left, waiving of prerequisites, letters of permission, courses not being offered, failed or repeated courses). A total of 80% of respondents who communicated with the USO either by email or in person received assistance directly from USO staff. In most cases, in-person wait times to meet with a USO staff member were greater than one hour. Average length of time to receive a response to an email inquiry was one week.

  1. Mentoring Centre

The majority of respondents had not made use of services provided by the Faculty of Social Sciences Mentoring Centre. In most cases, the respondents indicated they didn’t feel a need for these services.

  1. Student Mobility Office (faculty-sponsored international study opportunities)

A total of 80% of respondents indicated they felt it was important to have an international component in the Faculty of Social Sciences’ programs. However, despite the financial assistance available from the Student Mobility Office, the vast majority of respondents indicated they had not taken part in an international opportunity sponsored by the Faculty’s Student Mobility Office, either because they weren’t aware of these activities or due to the associated costs.

  1. Ways to improve the student experience

Independently of whether they had contacted the USO in person, by e-mail or by phone, an overwhelming majority of respondents emphasized the need for better access to staff at the Undergraduate Studies Office for all students (full-time, part-time, special, mature, etc.). For a large majority of respondents, reducing wait and response times is essential for improving their student experience.

Two other issues were also frequently raised by respondents—better access to international opportunities and activities and better communication about Faculty opportunities for undergraduate students.

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