Media Releases

Profile of the University of Toronto

March 4, 2013

Established in 1827, the University of Toronto is a vibrant and diverse academic community. It includes 80,000 students, 11,000 colleagues holding faculty appointments, 200 librarians, and 6,000 staff members across three distinctive campuses and at many partner sites, including world-renowned hospitals. The University is one of the most respected and influential institutions of higher education and advanced research in the world. Its strengths extend across the full range of disciplines: the 2012-13 Times Higher Education ranking groups the University of Toronto with Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA, Columbia, Cambridge, Oxford, the University of Melbourne and the University of Michigan as the only institutions in the top 27 in all six broad disciplinary areas. The University is also consistently rated one of Canada’s Top 100 employers, and ranks with Harvard and Yale for the top university library resources in North America.

Three Distinct Experiences at One University

The University of Toronto has three campuses: U of T St. George in downtown Toronto, U of T Mississauga to the west, and U of T Scarborough to the east. The campuses have a combined reputation for attracting top faculty and students, producing ground-breaking research and graduating leaders who make a difference in the world.

U of T Mississauga is a student-centred undergraduate and graduate research community within Canada’s sixth-largest city, Mississauga. The campus balances urban opportunities with a park-like campus, providing a unique environment for learning and discovery.

U of T St. George in downtown Toronto offers a quintessential urban university experience. Founded in 1827, the campus is home to seven colleges, 15 faculties and the School of Graduate Studies. U of T St. George has an exciting, international community of students and scholars engaged in a broad range of academic pursuits.

U of T Scarborough is a close-knit academic community that fosters learning through experience. The campus maintains strong ties to the businesses and community organizations across the Greater Toronto Area and beyond, creating opportunities unique to its students. The Scarborough campus is in the heart of a multicultural neighbourhood bordered by 300 acres of beautiful parkland.

The Student Experience

Every year, the University welcomes students of the highest calibre – not just from the province of Ontario, but also in rising numbers from across Canada and around the world. We invest tens of millions each year in student bursaries and scholarships with one aim in view: to ensure that the very best students can be admitted on merit, not on the basis of personal or parental income.

Academic programs are structured to capitalize on the breadth and depth of the university and on the teaching strengths of its outstanding faculty. Small-group seminars and tutorials, combined with large lectures and online support, give students the opportunity to develop a spectrum of skills and knowledge. Students are attracted to U of T by the opportunity to work closely with top faculty and to engage in research right from the beginning of their academic careers. As early as first year, U of T students engage in original research through courses, informal volunteer opportunities, summer positions, and national research council-funded internships. Students have excavated fossil sites in Hungary, learned geophysics field techniques in British Columbia and examined HIV/AIDS-related issues in Namibia.

U of T encourages students to apply their discoveries in the wider world. The university’s “Entrepreneurship 101” course is increasingly popular, and the new Banting and Best Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship provides a home for student- and faculty-spun companies to commercialize their research.

Outside the classroom, student life at the University of Toronto is rich with opportunities to form close-knit intellectual and social communities. With more than 800 clubs and student-run organizations, every student finds a home. Eco-conscious students can join the Environmental Student Union or volunteer at the U of T greenhouses or community gardens. Students with a love for the arts express their creativity in drama, photography, cinema, art and Bhangra and Hip Hop clubs. Budding journalists and public speakers produce student newspapers and radio shows, craft arguments for debate competitions and volunteer their time teaching media awareness to adolescents.

Communities also form around cultural connections and spiritual ties, including the Kurdish Students Association, the Chinese Magazine club, the Islamic Business Association and the Caribbean Connectionists. Departmental student societies like the Undergraduate Commerce Society and the Historical Studies Society host pub nights, guest lectures and movie nights.

Research and Innovation

The breadth and depth of the university’s research and teaching strength facilitates interdisciplinary collaboration among faculties and with partner institutions, and lays the foundation for a formidable portfolio of discoveries. The university is a continental leader in knowledge-translation and entrepreneurship, and its close association with the MaRS Discovery District, its nine affiliated teaching hospitals, and its industry partnerships place it at the hub of one of the most productive centres of innovation in North America.

With almost 1,000 invention disclosures filed between 2007 and 2010, U of T ranks first in Canada and third among public universities in North America. In 2011 alone, University of Toronto students and faculty generated 27 spin-out companies.

Internationally, the university is developing major collaborative consortia with other research universities, including the Structural Genomics Consortium: a partnership with the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, Oxford University, and the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil. And through a $210-million (USD) collaboration with IBM, the university is developing analytical models to provide improved public services – including drinking water, health care and energy – in the most efficient ways.

Faculty members working in and across the full range of disciplines are finding answers to some of the world’s most difficult challenges:

  • In 1963, University of Toronto professors Ernest McCulloch and James Till discovered stem cells, and U of T faculty has continued to capitalise on this discovery. Professor John Dick of Molecular Genetics was the first to identify human cancer stem cells in leukaemia, and his work today focuses on the manipulation of stem cells to develop new treatments for the disease.
  • Computer science is among Toronto’s best known and most internationally competitive research areas. Bill Buxton, principal researcher at Microsoft, and William Reeves, supervising technical director of Pixar, are both graduates of the computer science department. Professor Geoffrey Hinton’s pioneering research in back propagation neural networks has most recently yielded ground-breaking speech recognition software now in use at Microsoft, Google and IBM. The university is also a leader in cloud computing, quantum cryptography and quantum information control.
  • The University of Toronto’s Centre for Sustainable Energy – a team of researchers, educators, students and partners – are working to improve Canada’s energy efficiency and better manage its carbon emissions. Among the group’s achievements is the development of colloidal quantum dot films, which pave the way for solar cells that can quickly and cheaply be “painted” onto surfaces to convert the sun’s energy into usable electricity.
  • U of T researchers, led by Professor Stanley Zlotkin, have developed a tasteless and odourless micro-nutrient powder called “Sprinkles” that can be packaged in single-serving sachets and added to almost any food. These dietary supplements, given to children in the developing world, can alleviate anaemia and Vitamin D deficiency.
  • Led by Richard Florida, the Lloyd & Delphine Martin Prosperity Institute is the world’s leading think-tank on the role of sub-national factors – location, place and city-regions – in global economic prosperity. Its researchers take an integrated view of prosperity, looking beyond economic measures to include the importance of quality of place and the development of people’s creative potential.
  • The Munk School of Global Affairs, led by Janice Gross Stein, brings together the best minds to do leading edge research, convene experts for enlightening discussions of global issues, and educate students who move seamlessly across disciplines as they tackle global problems.

University of Toronto Alumni

While the university is proud of its historical and massive ongoing contributions to research and innovation in Canada, it is ultimately its graduates who constitute U of T’s single biggest contribution to the strengthening of communities and the creation of successful and innovative societies. The University claims more than 500,000 alumni in 175 countries in leadership roles on every continent and in every sphere of human activity with surprising concentrations of influence everywhere from Hollywood to Hong Kong.

U of T has graduated five Nobel Prize winners, more than any other university in Canada, with a total of 10 Nobel Laureates having been based here during significant points in their careers. Among them, The Right Honourable Lester B. Pearson received his BA from the University of Toronto and was awarded the 1957 Nobel Peace Prize for his untiring efforts against world conflict. Pearson also went on to become Canada’s 14th Prime Minister. Professor Walter Kohn, co-winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, is an alumnus of the University of Toronto. And Professor James Orbinski, who received his master’s degree in international relations from U of T, accepted the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of Doctors Without Borders for pioneering humanitarian work around the world.

International Rankings

The University is pleased to see its faculty and students receive recognition for their academic success. Institutional and discipline rankings are just one method of assessing performance and U of T’s place among the world’s leading Universities. Different rankings use different measures, so each result must be taken in its own methodological context.



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