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OECD Observer Business brief


The Université de Sherbrooke is a part of the North American university landscape that just can’t be ignored.

The Université de Sherbrooke is a part of the North American university landscape that just can’t be ignored. Since its establishment in 1954, the Université de Sherbrooke has consistently put student success at the centre of its concerns, integrated innovation in all of its actions, and become a genuine model for pioneering in terms of teaching, research, and sustainable development. 

“For nearly 60 years,” explained the university’s rector, Professor Luce Samoisette, “the Université de Sherbrooke’s exceptional influence has been built on unique models of networking between the university and the community. In teaching as well as research, we create collaborative environments in which researchers and students from all disciplines work with stakeholders from various backgrounds towards the same goal of responding to society’s needs. This approach stretches back to the founding of our institution and is in our genes.”

Located in the beautiful Eastern Townships in the province of Quebec (Canada), the Université de Sherbrooke is an urban institution nestled amidst mountains, lakes, and forests. Its three campuses have a total student population of some 37,000 in all disciplines, divided among 47 undergraduate programs, 54 master’s programs, and 32 doctoral programs, all delivered in French. With more than 75 research chairs, the Université de Sherbrooke stands out as the first Canadian university to top the C$100 million mark in royalties for faculty discoveries.

In 1989, Université de Sherbrooke researchers designed the ACELP speech compression technology, which today enables billions of people to communicate each day on mobile telephones and with Internetbased audio distribution applications. Innovation at the Université de Sherbrooke also means an outstanding book on the origins of AIDS, one of 19 Canada Excellence Research Chairs, a wholly new electronics dictionary in French, and hundreds of other examples.

As a driving force in open innovation, the Université de Sherbrooke joined with IBM and Teledyne Dalsa to create Canada’s largest microelectronics centre: MIQRO INNOVATION COLLABORATIVE CENTRE (C2MI). Built on an investment of more than $200 million, this research infrastructure provides for the development of new technologies in fields as varied as health, telecommunications, and new media. In a joint effort with BRP, the university also founded the Centre de technologies avancées (centre for advanced technologies), which has yielded a range of innovations particularly in the field of electrical transmission. Just recently, the university founded the Canadian Collaborative Center on Concentrated Photovoltaics, whose main partners are the University of Ottawa and the PROMES group at CNRS in France. The university is also an important player in BioFuelNet Canada, a network of centres of excellence on advanced biofuels. Through its partnering strategies, the Université de Sherbrooke is at the forefront in the emergence of cutting-edge technologies to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels. Moreover, the university’s commitment to sustainable development isn’t limited to research.

Because of its construction of new environmentally friendly buildings, creation of natural spaces, responsible waste management, and reduction of greenhouse gases, the Université de Sherbrooke has been named Canada’s “greenest” university. Nothing less than a laboratory for integrating sustainable development, the Université de Sherbrooke ranks sixth in the world according to the GreenMetric World University Ranking.

Known for its ingenuity and boldness, the Université de Sherbrooke has also revolutionised teaching, particularly through the use of problembased learning (PBL). PBL is an integrated approach that stimulates students to take charge of their learning and to develop autonomy, which is an essential component in a successful career. The university also serves as a model in implementing PBL strategies.

Moreover, Sherbrooke was the first French-speaking university to adopt the cooperative-learning program, which alternates academic study with work internships. Today, the Université de Sherbrooke is one of the largest universities in North America using this teaching method, which ensures that its students are better prepared to meet the challenges in their chosen fields. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that the Université de Sherbrooke stands out for its excellent reputation among employers, making it one of the most valued universities in Canada.

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©OECD Observer No 295, Q2 2013

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