The most influential university ranking in Canada is Maclean’s Magazine University Ranking and McGill University continues to reign supreme. Maclean’s Magazine released their 2016 University Ranking online and as a guidebook on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015, where for the 11th straight year McGill University topped the list in the Medical Doctoral category. Simon Fraser University remained number one in the Comprehensive category for the second year in a row; University of Northern British Columbia dethroned Mount Allison University to top the Primarily Undergraduate category, while University of Toronto took the No. 1 spot in the reputation survey. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the ranking.
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 11 years. There was no movement in the top six of the category with Toronto in second, UBC in third, followed by Queen’s in fourth, Alberta in fifth and McMaster Universities in sixth place.
There was a lot of movement in the last four spots of the top 10. University of Western Ontario moved up to No. 7 after being tied for No. 8 last year, Dalhousie moved down from No. 7 to No. 8. Two universities now tie for ninth place, University of Alberta moved from No. 12, and University of Ottawa moved down from tied for No. 8 to tie for No. 9. Last year’s 10th place Universite de Montreal drops out of the top 10 to No. 11.
Maclean’s explains the reason for their three main ranking 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.” Student satisfaction has affected ranking for the major universities that have students that commute, including McGill in Montreal, Toronto, and Ottawa. McGill has a reputation as the Harvard of the North, and rightfully keeps its spot as the nation’s best at the top of the Medical Doctoral category.
McGill’s Principal Suzanne Fortier obviously pleased with Maclean’s ranking results and issued a statement saying, “The McGill community continues to work hard to remain one of the world’s leading universities. Rankings are not an exact science, but our strong showing over a period of years in the Maclean’s and other rankings testifies to our commitment to excellence.”
Recently McGill has face 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 remain 12th when it comes to “operating budget.”
Another dent in McGill’s reputation is its medical school accreditation was put on probation this past summer for a “failure by faculty to monitor the new curriculum introduced in 2013, ‘frequent violations’ in the students’ workload policy and a ‘lack of confidence (among students) to report mistreatment due to fear of reprisals and fear of lack of anonymity/confidentiality.'”
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. This year Simon Fraser won out against the University of Victoria ending their power struggle for the top spot in the category as they have been doing since 2007. Simon Fraser retained its top spot, while moved down to third, University of Waterloo moving up to second place. Montreal’s Concordia University moved from No. 11 to the top 10 tying for 10th with Wilfrid Laurier that also moves up to the top 10 from No. 13.
The Primarily Undergraduate category that features universities that focus on their undergraduate program. University of Northern British Columbia (UNB) was the university to dethrone finally Mount Allison University, who has had a monopoly on the category, maintaining their supremacy since 2007. Mount Allison moved down to No. 4 because of student dissatisfaction, which put them at 14th place in that category. As Maclean’s explains, “In 2014, students were upset when the university administration did not refund some tuition after a three-week strike by faculty.” Trent University moved up from sixth to the second place and Lethbridge University retains the third spot. Last year’s Laurentian University dropped out of the top 10 to No. 11, while University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) moved from 13 to No. 10.
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,” “asking for their views on quality and innovation at Canadian universities.” This year the survey was conducted entirely online. Maclean’s publishes four reputation rankings, Best Overall, Highest Quality, Most Innovative, and Leaders of Tomorrow, with 49 universities represented in all four lists. Maclean’s Reputation Survey mirrors most international rankings with University of Toronto topping the “Best Overall” list, followed by University of British Columbia in second and McGill in third.
In Highest Quality, Toronto is also on top followed by McGill and UBC, and Waterloo is forth. In the Most Innovative, Waterloo again tops the list, with Toronto and UBC second and third again, and McGill in fourth. 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 at forth place.
Maclean’s shook up their rankings this year adding a student survey called “Students Favorite Schools,” the last time the magazine asked student’s opinions was 10 years ago. The info was compiled and produced far different top universities in each of the three categories. Students named Queens University the top Medical Doctoral University, University of Guelph, the top in the Comprehensive category, and Bishop’s University the top Primarily Undergraduate university. Additionally, there were two other student voted on surveys, “Where professors know your name” and “Schools that make you job-ready” St. Francis Xavier University topped both categories.
Student opinions and stories were important to Maclean’s for their 25th anniversary edition and they also included 25@25 student stories, asking a diverse body of students about their experiences, regrets and insights about their university education. All the students were born in 1991 the same year Maclean’s started their ranking.
This year also marked the first year Maclean’s included program rankings, looking at the top 10 universities for each of the 10 program they profiled. The majority of the programs are STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics related and include; engineering, geology, psychology, mathematics, environmental science, biology, nursing and computer science. Only two programs ranked where outside of STEM subjects business and education.
Maclean’s changed their methodology relying more heavily on citations, “Maclean’s worked with Amsterdam-based Elsevier, which operates Scopus, the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature in the world, to assess the number of papers and the impact of professors’ research at Canadian universities.”
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 10 in their Doctoral-Medical category and includes the university’s 2016 positions:
- 1 McGill University (1)
- 2 University of Toronto (3)
- 3 University of British Columbia (UBC) (3)
- 4 Queen’s University (4)
- 5 University of Alberta (5)
- 6 McMaster University (6)
- 7 University of Western Ontario (8)
- 8 Dalhousie University (7)
- 9 University of Calgary (12)
- 9 University of Ottawa (8)
Comprehensive category’s top 10:
- 1 Simon Fraser University (1)
- 2 University of Waterloo (3)
- 3 University of Victoria (2)
- 4 Carleton University (6)
- 5 University of Guelph (5)
- 6 University of New Brunswick (4)
- 7 Memorial University (6)
- 7 York University (8)
- 9 Ryerson University (8)
- 10 Concordia University (11)
- 10 Wilfrid Laurier University (13)
Primarily Undergraduate category’s top 10:
- 1 University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) (2)
- 2 Trent University (6)
- 3 Lethbridge University (3)
- 4 Mount Allison University (1)
- 5 Acadia University (4)
- 5 St. Francis Xavier University (6)
- 7 Saint Mary’s University (5)
- 8 University of Prince Edward Island (10)
- 9 Lakehead University (8)
- 10 University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) (13)