For the last 10 years, Maclean’s ranked universities across Canada and published the results. Last week, the Maclean’s annual Universities issue hit the stores, and the University of Calgary fell two steps from last year’s ranking.
In the category of Medical Doctoral universities, the U of C ranked 12th overall among 15 universities. The number-one place was awarded to the University of Toronto. The rankings were awarded following the magazine’s ranking method. According to the article, the rankings are established by comparing the performance of universities in 21 areas divided into six groups: student body, classes, faculty, finances, library and reputation.
The final ranking is determined after an average of the different performance measures is obtained. The U of C had some good scores, such as a third-place rank in Operating Budget, but most of the scores on other areas weren’t as impressive; the U of C ranked 14th or worse in six out of 21 areas.
According to U of C Administration, the rankings published in the magazine are not a very reliable source because the article is intended to be a commercial product rather than a service to the reader.
"Are [Maclean’s] doing a service for the public?" asked Associate Vice-president Academic Jim Frideres. "I doubt it. What they are interested in is selling magazines."
The performance of the university in areas like class size and faculty was poor; the U of C ranked 14th in class size for first-year students. According to the magazine, 41.31 per cent of first and second-year classes at the U of C have more than 50 students. This fact generated great concern in some faculty members.
"An astonishing and embarrassing 13.88 per cent [of first-year classes] have 101-250 students," said John Baker, President of the University of Calgary Faculty Association.
In classes taught by tenured faculty, the university ranked 14th.
"U of C is using more low-paid, presumably less-experienced faculty, to teach students who most need help," said Baker.
The university feels that some of the attributes the article penalizes should be considered positive values. For example, the U of C was graded poorly because the average entering grade of its students is only 81 per cent. According to Jim Frideres, the university feels that accessibility gives more students the opportunity to enter the university.
The article generated different reactions in the Students’ Union where they feel the ranking does not reflect the quality of education at the U of C.
"I don’t think students should be worried about the 12th-place ranking," said SU President Toby White. "It relies a lot on reputation, and it is hard for a young university like
U of C to compete in that area with some of the other older universities."