In Canada, the most important ranking of universities is Maclean’s Magazine University Ranking, and their 2015 listing and guidebook was released on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014, where for the 10th straight year McGill University topped the list in the Medical Doctoral category. Simon Fraser University moved up to number one in the Comprehensive category, Mount Allison University for the seventh year topped the Primarily Undergraduate category, while the University of Waterloo moved up again to the number one spot in the reputation survey. Maclean’s explains the reason for their three main lists saying they “place universities into three categories to recognize the differences in levels of research funding, the diversity of offerings and the breadth and depth of graduate and professional programs.”
The most important of Maclean’s’ ranking lists is their Medical Doctoral category, focusing on the major research universities. McGill again topped the list this year and has retained the number one spot for the past two years. There was movement in the top three, with the University of Toronto going up the ranking from the third spot to the second, while the University of British Columbia (UBC) moved down back to number three. The rest of the top 10 saw very little movement, with most of the universities keeping their same positions as last year. The ranking is in reverse on most international lists, with the University of Toronto considered Canada’s top university followed either by the University of British Columbia or McGill, but the international rankings all agree those are the top three Canadian universities.
Here in Canada McGill’s reputation as the Harvard of the North, rightfully keeps its spot as the nation’s best. McGill’s Principal Suzanne Fortier obviously pleased with Maclean’s ranking results told the McGill Reporter; “The value of the Maclean’s rankings, like other rankings, is in the story they tell over time. This is a story of continued commitment to excellence. I am proud of the McGill community for sustaining its top performance for a decade running.”
Recently McGill has faced budget challenges, with the Quebec government’s funding cuts the past couple of years and not enough private endowments Canada’s once top university across all rankings has taken a hit and drop in international rankings and prestige as a result. Even in Maclean’s list, where McGill was able to hold to their “decade” long reign as Canada’s best, they are 12th when it comes to “operating budget.”
Principal Fortier recently spoke of the funding problems and international rankings to the Globe and Mail, explaining, “We have not seen any additional investments in quite a number of years now and also we have to live within quite a lot of constraints… We don’t have agility, we don’t have a lot of flexibility, because, certainly in the case of McGill, all of our money is controlled by the government.” According to McGill’s statistics, the university is still a top draw for international students, in the fall of 2013 “25.2 per cent of the incoming student body” were international students.
The Comprehensive category is described as universities “with significant research, undergraduate, and graduate programs as well as professional schools,” but are not as research focused, and do not have Medical instruction. Simon Fraser and the University of Victoria continue their power struggle for the top spot in the category as they have been doing since 2007, this year Simon Fraser won the honors. The University of Waterloo retains the third spot to round out the top three. The list also saw Brock and Wilfrid Laurier graduating up this category from Primarily Undergraduate category. Concordia University in Montreal also saw improvement in their ranking, and they are now sitting at the precipice of the top 10 at number 11.
The Primarily Undergraduate category that features universities that focus on their undergraduate program saw Mount Allison again holds on as the top university that category. Mount Allison has a monopoly on the category, maintaining their supremacy since 2007. The University of Northern British Columbia moved up to second place from tying for third last year, while Lethbridge University now solely retains the number three spot. Acadia University dropped the most in the top 10 from number two to four, while Laurentian University was the greatest gainer moving from 14 to the number 10 spot.
Macleans’ reputation survey is the most controversial lists in their annual rankings, because it is subjective, taking their results from a survey completed by “education and business leaders.” Maclean’s publishes four reputation rankings, Best Overall, Highest Quality, Most Innovative, and Leaders of Tomorrow, with 49 universities represented in all four lists. This year the University of Waterloo tops the “Best Overall” list. Maclean’s noted that “For almost two decades, Waterloo has dominated the national list,” while the Waterloo Region Record pointed out Waterloo topped the list “for the 19th time in 24 years.”
As for the rest of reputation list’s top three, UBC comes in second followed by Toronto at third. Meanwhile top ranking McGill is only fourth in the Best Overall. In Highest Quality, there is a reversal, McGill is number one, followed by Toronto and UBC, and Waterloo is forth. In the Most Innovative, Waterloo again tops the list, with Toronto and UBC second and third again, with McMaster forth and McGill just in the fifth position. The Leaders of Tomorrow reputation list had a ranking in the top four that mirrored the Best Overall list, with Waterloo at number one, followed by UBC, Toronto, and McGill again in fourth place.
In other rankings, the reputation survey is similar to Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings World Reputation Rankings, and the QS World University Rankings that heavily relies on reputation to determine its main rankings. As with most subjective rankings like the Princeton Review Best “379 Colleges,” university administrators “criticize” the results, but students find it helpful in their application decision making. Maclean’s quoted a high school senior who commented; “A school’s reputation tells me about the path of the school and its graduates. If a university’s graduates have a high chance of getting the job they want because they went to that particular school, I feel like the same thing will happen to me if I go there.”
Maclean’s three major rankings Medical Doctoral, Comprehensive, and Primarily Undergraduate use the same methodology to determine the lists’ rankings. There are six performance indicators; students and classes account for 20 percent of the grade, Faculty also 20 percent, Resources account for 12 percent, Student Support at 13 percent, Library at 15 percent, and Reputation weighs heavily at 20 percent.
Here is Maclean’s top ten in their Doctoral-Medical category and includes the university’s 2014 positions:
- 1 McGill University (1)
- 2 University of Toronto (3)
- 3 University of British Columbia (3)
- 4 Queen’s University (4)
- 5 University of Alberta (5)
- 6 McMaster University (6)
- 7 Dalhousie University (7)
- 8 University of Ottawa (8)
- 8 University of Western Ontario (9)
- 10 Université Laval (13)
- 10 Université de Montreal (11)
- Maclean’s University Rankings
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Bonnie K. Goodman is a proud alumna of McGill University having received both her BA in History & Art History & Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill. She is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. Her specializations are academic & universities news, particularly history & library news.