Schools in Quebec, British Columbia and New Brunswick top our evaluation of university excellence
With this year’s rankings, Maclean’s continues the mandate it established in 1991: to provide essential information in a comprehensive package to help students choose the university that best suits their needs. The annual rankings assess Canadian universities on a diverse range of factors, from spending on student services, scholarships and libraries, to student/faculty ratios and faculty success in obtaining national research grants. Maclean’s surveys universities with a focus on the undergraduate experience, and an intent to offer an overview of the quality of instruction and services available to students at public universities across the country.
Maclean’s places universities in one of three categories, recognizing the differences in types of institutions, levels of research funding, the diversity of offerings, and the range of graduate and professional programs. Primarily Undergraduate universities, as the name suggests, are largely focused on undergraduate education, with relatively few graduate programs. Those in the Comprehensive category have a signiﬁcant degree of research activity and a wide range of programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels, including professional degrees. Medical Doctoral universities offer a broad range of Ph.D. programs and research; as well, all universities in this category have medical schools, which sets them apart in terms of the size of research grants.
In each category, Maclean’s ranks the institutions on performance indicators in six broad areas, allocating a weight to each indicator. Primarily Undergraduate and Comprehensive universities are ranked on 13 performance measures; Medical Doctoral universities are ranked on 14. Figures include data from all federated and afﬁliated institutions. The magazine does not rank schools with fewer than 1,000 full-time students, those that are restrictive due to a religious or specialized mission, newly designated universities or those that are not members of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC).
For the fifth year in a row, McGill has taken the top spot in the Medical Doctoral category. On a per capita basis, McGill’s faculty perform strongly in winning awards and research grants. A first-place finish on student awards and the reputational survey boosted the school’s overall score.
In the Comprehensive category, Simon Fraser finished first for the second year in a row. Once again, an outstanding showing in winning student and faculty awards, as well as research grants, contributed to a top-notch score. In addition, SFU scored highly on library spending, particularly in spending on acquisitions.
For the third year running, Mount Allison took the top position in the Primarily Undergraduate category. On a per capita basis, Mount A students win more awards than any of their peers at other institutions, and the faculty follow closely behind, coming in second on the awards indicator. Placing well on operating budget expenditures per student, spending on the library, number of library volumes per student and the reputational survey all contributed to a winning score.
This year, a new university was ranked in the Primarily Undergraduate category. The University of Ontario Institute of Technology, founded in 2003 in Oshawa, made a strong debut, placing 12th out of 22 institutions. Strength in research funding—UOIT placed first in obtaining social sciences and humanities grants and fourth in medical/science grants—as well as a first-place finish on funding student services and library acquisitions contributed to a strong score.
Next: How are the rankings decided?