See who came out on top in our annual analysis
The 23rd annual Maclean’s University Rankings issue, the number one source for students choosing universities in Canada, is now available on newsstands and tablets. It contains 130 pages of charts, surveys, stories about what’s happening in higher education and, of course, our 2014 University Rankings.
Each of the 49 universities is ranked in one of three categories to recognize differences in levels of research funding, diversity of offerings and breadth and depth of graduate and professional programs.
For the ninth year in a row, McGill ranks first in the Medical Doctoral category. In second place is the University of British Columbia. The University of Toronto, which once dominated the rankings, is third.
In the Comprehensive category the University of Victoria passed Simon Fraser University to take first.
In the Primarily Undergraduate category Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B. is once again on top. No surprise there; this is the 17th time in 23 years that Mount A. is first. Acadia University edged out the University of Northern British Columbia for second. UNBC tied the University of Lethbridge for third.
One school improved its position by three ranks this year: Saint Mary’s University in Halifax moved from 8th to 5th in the Primarily Undergraduate category. Six schools are up two spots.
Wondering how we rank? Maclean’s considers 14 indicators of the quality of students, faculty, libraries and finances. For a full description of the ranking methodology, click here.
Salaries and benefits of 60 Canadian university presidents
Students are often amazed at how much university presidents are paid and express indignation at high salaries in student newspapers. Last week, such a piece was printed in the University of Alberta’s Gateway. “With budget cuts choking the university’s finances, it’s frustrating to see public servants paid like CEOs,” wrote Cole Forster.
The obvious arguments in favour of high presidents’ salaries are that they earn them and would otherwise be lured away by competitors. It’s also worth noting theses salaries are taxed at rates as high as 50 per cent (in Nova Scotia).
For comparison’s sake, here is a list of what 60 Canadian university presidents received in pre-tax salaries and benefits in 2011, sourced from the 2013-14 Canadian Association of University Teachers Almanac of Post-secondary Education.
Western University, Amit Chakma: $591,490
University of Calgary, Elizabeth Cannon: $545,000
19 Canadian schools make new Times top 400 rankings
The University of Toronto, University of British Columbia and McGill University are once again the top three Canadian schools in an international comparison. This time it’s the Times Higher Education‘s 2013-14 World University Rankings. Those same three are gold, silver and bronze in the Medical Doctoral category of the Maclean’s 2014 Rankings and on the other two global lists, QS and ARWU.
Once again, 19 Canadian universities are on Times’ list. The rankings are based on 13 performance indicators including the learning environment, research volume and citations. The top three overall are the California Institute of Technology, Harvard University and Oxford University. All of the top 10 are in the U.S. or U.K.
Here are all the Canadian schools that made the list with last year’s ranks in parentheses:
Solving mysteries from car crashes to stage collapses
From our 2013 Professional Schools issue
Before the hit series CSI, there was the Canadian documentary show Exhibit A, which traced the ways investigators had used high-tech scientific analysis to solve real-life crimes. As a teenager, Shannon Kroeker enjoyed the show so much she considered forensic sciences as a career. When it came time to choose, she opted for what seemed more realistic: mechanical engineering at Queen’s University. Nonetheless, at 33, she now spends her days doing detective work just like on the show.
Kroeker is a forensic engineer for the firm MEA in Vancouver, where she combines expertise in injury biomechanics (her Ph.D. involved prodding human tissue) with witness statements, photographs and medical reports to explain the impact of car crashes on human bodies. For example, how much did not wearing a seat belt contribute to an injury? She writes reports, usually for insurance company lawyers who are working to settle disputes. “When you’ve got all your clues and you have the ‘aha’ moment where you figure out what happened,” she says. “I find that really rewarding. It’s solving the mystery.”
Avoid these freshman pitfalls
1. Fail to realize that, special as you are, you’re just one person on a huge campus. This has unfortunate side effects like clogging up busy hallways and other such silliness.
2. Buy brand new copies of every single book listed on every syllabus only to find out at the first lecture that half of them are ‘on reserve’ for free in the library.
3. Fail to speak up in class. This can lead to painful silences that are eventually filled by that one guy who lives to talk and whom just about everyone hates.
4. Go to every frosh event no matter how ridiculous. You’ll be fine if you don’t make it to “Back-to-School-a-Palooza” and “Frosh-Tastic Tastings” and “School’s In… Togas!” Toga parties are done anyway. The only good one happened 30 years ago… in a movie.
5. Explore the fun and exciting world of parent-free alcohol consumption but go way too far. Most people drink in university but freshmen have a knack for ending up with their faces in toilets. Or garbage cans. Or friend’s roommate’s beds. It’s just not classy.
6. Sign up for way too many activities and force all your friends to sign up for way too many activities too because this is university and we must make the most of it!!!!!
7. You burnout, get sick, stop doing everything and come perilously close to failing. This is why it’s imperative to figure out which classes you can afford to skip occasionally.
8. Complain about how hard it is to budget when your parents aren’t around to buy groceries after spending all your savings on vodka and unnecessary textbooks.
9. Live on campus and wear pajamas or shorts all year long. We all know you don’t have to walk far in rainstorms and blizzards to get to classes but there’s no need to rub it in!
10. Date a high school boyfriend/girlfriend and Skype them for hours each night.
Do not be this roommate, freshmen. Nobody likes this roommate. Good luck!
Secrets to success from the editor of Maclean’s On Campus
This was first published in August 2011.
This probably isn’t the advice your mother would give you. She’s going to tell you to get involved as much as possible, to do all of your readings and to stick with whatever degree you’ve chosen. But as someone who graduated with a master’s degree in 2010, I think I know better than mom about what works and what doesn’t. Here are the Top 10 things that I wish I’d known in first year.
1. Meet your professors in person.
Guess how many e-mails a professor who teaches your 600-student course receives each week? It’s a lot of e-mails. That’s why it’s important to make personal connections by visiting them during office hours or by asking them questions after a lecture that particularly grabbed your interest.
Keep costs down with these 14 money saving tips
University is expensive no matter how you do it but that doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to save money—potentially thousands of dollars per year.
Whether you’ve moved from the other side of the world or are commuting from the other side of the city, here are 14 ways to keep costs down.
1. Get a student bank account.
All the major banks in Canada offer free banking for post-secondary students. At CIBC, for example, students get unlimited transactions for free while non-students might pay $13.95 per month. All you need is proof of enrolment.
2. Buy used textbooks online.
Many universities have websites with postings from students who are offloading last semester’s books at deep discounts. You can make dough selling the books back at the end of the year too.
First year is two months away. Here’s how to get ready.
Hundreds of thousands of Canadians will be starting university or college a little over two months from now. If you’re one of them, you may be freaking out a little bit, so to help calm your nerves, here’s a list of things you can do to prepare, other than the obvious stuff—because you’ve already applied for student loans, paid tuition and picked your courses, right? Right!?
1. Stop worrying about making friends.
Most people will arrive not knowing anyone and that’s a good thing. It means the people living close to you will become a surrogate family for the first couple weeks of September. You’ll attend meals, football games and parties together. Then, like a real family, you’ll drift apart somewhat. But don’t worry. By then you will have made new friends in labs and group projects, at club meetings and on intramural sports teams, at parties and at the poutine shop at 3 a.m. Just give it time.
Student satisfaction at 37 schools
The annual CUSC survey focuses on student satisfaction. In 2012, 37 institutions took part, administering an online questionnaire to a sample of graduating students at each school. More than 15,000 students responded to questions about everything from academics to support services.
MOST OF MY PROFESSORS ENCOURAGED STUDENTS TO PARTICIPATE IN CLASS DISCUSSIONS.
|School||Agree Strongly (%)||Agree (%)|
|St. Francis Xavier||45||46|
|UNB (Saint John)||32||62|
MOST OF MY PROFESSORS WERE REASONABLY ACCESSIBLE OUTSIDE OF CLASS TO HELP STUDENTS.
|School||Agree Strongly (%)||Agree (%)|
|St. Francis Xavier||53||45|
|UNB (Saint John)||37||56|
SATISFACTION WITH CONCERN SHOWN BY THE UNIVERSITY FOR YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL
|School||Very Satisfied (%)||Satisfied (%)|
|UNB (Saint John)||16||54|
|St. Francis Xavier||12||59|
SATISFACTION WITH THE OVERALL QUALITY OF THE EDUCATION RECEIVED AT THIS UNIVERSITY
|School||Very Satisfied (%)||Satisfied (%)|
|St. Francis Xavier||29||65|
|UNB (Saint John)||25||64|
SATISFACTION WITH OPPORTUNITIES TO ENHANCE EDUCATION THROUGH ACTIVITIES BEYOND THE CLASSROOM (E.G., UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH, SERVICE-LEARNING, STUDENTS EXCHANGE)
|School||Very Satisfied (%)||Satisfied (%)|
|St. Francis Xavier||26||64|
|UNB (Saint John)||13||64|
Prof. Pettigrew says it’s worth considering
The idea of an exam for new teachers, similar to the bar exam for would-be lawyers, has been floated in the U.S. and we should consider it too.
As it stands now, teachers generally require only the requisite degrees in order to earn certification in their province. Shouldn’t that be enough?
No. There are simply too many ways to game the system—taking the easiest courses one can find, finding the easiest sections of mandatory courses, inventing dead relatives to get exemptions and extensions—everyone knows the tricks—though not everyone uses them. It would be nice to know which are which. Besides, there is a world of difference between the student who passes with fifties and the student who passes with nineties. And degree status itself doesn’t indicate that. Even among honours graduates there can be a large difference in abilities.
The potential benefits of such an exam are numerous.
Classes cancelled as professors picket over pay
“We want to reclaim this university,” says St. Francis Xavier Association of University Teachers president Peter McInnis. That’s the message that faculty members carried as they took to the picket lines Monday commencing an unprecedented strike at the campus in Antigonish, N.S.
After eight months of talks, the administration and union failed to reach an agreement on pay and other issues. In the last round of bargaining faculty proposed a 9.3 per cent wage increase over three years, according to the AUT. The administration offered 6.2 per cent over four years.
According to Statistics Canada’s 2011 report, assistant professors at St. FX made a median of $74,377 in 2010-11 while full professors earned a median of $123,673. The average assistant professor’s salary nationwide was $91,035 and the average full professor’s salary was $143,366.
Professors, lab instructors, librarians and writing center workers all hit the pavement at 7:30 a.m. Monday forcing the postponement of classes for the foreseeable future and causing uncertainty for the school’s more than 4,000 students.
Injuries reported due to ice
A river raged through a section of downtown Montreal as a water main break Monday flooded a section of the city core.
The water barrelled down the slope of Mount Royal, with some people struggling to avoid being swept away by the mighty current.
The flood began spreading near McGill University just before rush hour, prompting traffic jams as police rerouted cars and people struggled to escape the area.
Some people wrapped themselves in garbage bags to protect their lower body from the ice-cold water as they crossed submerged streets.
At one intersection, where the flooded area was narrow, people moved a sidewalk bench and used it as a bridge to get to the middle of the street.
Philippe Whitford, a 38-year-old program analyst, gave new meaning to the term double-bagging: he wrapped himself in two layers of green plastic bags and made his way through the knee-deep water outside his building.
While he felt cold — the temperature was -9 C — he was grateful that he managed to stay dry.
His concerns quickly shifted to Tuesday morning. As the break was contained by mid-evening, and the water was largely cleared away, an emerging problem was ice buildup.
With a slippery film quickly forming across the area, parts of Ste-Catherine Street risk being temporarily transformed into an urban skating rink.
“It’s going to be a mess when this all freezes,” Whitford, who works for a finance company, said of Tuesday’s commute.
The streets thickened with ice as firemen stabbed at drain openings with pike poles to get the water to go in. There were also large road graders pushing the water around trying to get it to disperse.
City officials said the flood was caused by a 90-centimetre water main that broke at a construction site near downtown, and said they were working to fix the problem.
Police rerouted traffic because the cascade of water made the area extremely slippery as it turned to ice. Parts of two of Montreal’s main east-west arteries were closed to traffic — Rene-Levesque Boulevard and Sherbrooke Street.
Staff at McGill University were warned that several of the university’s buildings were flooded and evening classes were cancelled.
Water also trickled into a number of commercial establishments on Ste-Catherine Street.
City officials said the incident had not affected the quality of drinking water.
Mayor Michael Applebaum went to survey the cleanup operation.
He said the damage occurred mostly below street level.
A steady stream of water poured into underground parking garages, and Applebaum said water had to be pumped out of the Place Ville Marie, a major office complex.
“The damage is mostly damage where we have basements where there’s underground parking lots,” he said as he stood near a water-logged intersection, as firefighters cleared clogged sewers and front-end loaders scooped up water.
Two minor injuries were reported, as of 7 p.m. The local ambulance service said the injuries occurred when people slipped and fell.
One man who was rushing to catch a bus said he saw the cascading water push people along as they waded through.
Another man, Faz Khan, said he watched the spectacle from his office window.
“McTavish (Street) was completely flooded and nobody could cross past Sherbrooke,” Khan said. “People had water up to their knees at one point…. It was pretty bad.”
—Peter Rakobowchuk and Nelson Wyatt
Video shows person swept down street
All evening classes at the downtown campus of McGill University are cancelled on Monday due to a huge flood that originated near the McTavish Reservoir. City officials told The Canadian Press that a water main broke at a construction site near downtown causing the slope of Mount Royal to turn into a stream. Parts of Rene-Levesque Boulevard and Sherbrooke Street are closed and the area is dangerous due to fast-moving water and ice. Observers have posted many photos on Twitter and YouTube user Sly005 posted this video that shows a person swept down the street:
Puppy parties, NHL lockout and the plot to kill Bieber
1. If you’ve fallen into an exam stress hole and your university doesn’t offer the burgeoning (and cute) service of dog therapy, watch this video – you can’t possibly be in a bad mood after watching a man high-five a Labradoodle. CBC Edmonton reports that the University of Alberta is the latest Canadian school jumping on the dog therapy wagon – and it’s wildly popular. Students lined up down the hallway for a chance to play with the pups, and a university official told CBC they hope to make the visits an ongoing program throughout the year.
2. In a bid to improve the college experience for LGBT students, the AP reports that the University of Iowa has become the first U.S. public university to pose options question about sexual orientation and gender on its application. The application asks students whether they “identify with the LGBTQ Community” among other optional questions, data the university hopes to use to gauge how well LGBT students feel supported. If a student answers yes to the question, Iowa’s admissions office will also e-mail them with information on housing options and campus resources.The AP reports that the only other U.S. college to track LGBT students is Elmhurst College, a private liberal-arts school in suburban Chicago.
The Point Grill’s food is mostly worth it, but skip the starter
Maclean’s On Campus is continuing the conversation by having students review food on their campuses and showing what it costs to dine. If you’re a student, you can help. Send us a review of the food on your campus. Keep your receipts. If we publish it, we’ll reimburse you.
Here is the first entry in our Campus Eats series of reviews. It’s worth noting that The Point is UBC’s fine dining restaurant; there are many more affordable options nearby. From Zafira Rajan:
The Point Grill at the University of British Columbia
3.5 stars out five
Total Price: $51.20
Photos from the 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings
Every university student’s day is different. Some spend their time in high-tech labs while others pore over books in the campus cafe. Some volunteer to fix bicycles between classes while their roommates rehearse for plays. With teams from basketball to rowing, athletes are in heaven.
To truly understand the smorgasbord of options, you need to visit multiple schools. Can’t make it to more than a few? Don’t fret. Photos galleries from the 24 campuses we visited for the 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings will get you started. After clicking through them all, pick up the Maclean’s Guide to Canadian Universities for hundreds of pages of advice on your big decision, including profiles of 81 Canadian schools.
Northern British Columbia
St. Francis Xavier
Inside the war against risky drinking on campus
From the 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings
When outraged members of Pi Kappa Alpha at the University of Tennessee called a news conference in September to protest the suspension of their fraternity due to allegations of strange and excessive alcohol abuse, two words sprang to mind: Animal House. The news conference, immortalized on YouTube, is so unintentionally bizarre that it could be mistaken for an outtake from the subversive 1978 frat-boy comedy that launched a million toga parties and countless hangovers. The press conference—featuring a bow-tied, dead-serious Southern lawyer backed by an angelic legion of fraternity members in their Sunday suits—was called to refute allegations that one of their own, 20-year-old Alexander P. Broughton, had indulged in “butt-chugging” massive quantities of wine. While there was no denying that Broughton was hospitalized with alcohol poisoning after a night of fraternity drinking games, the idea of an alcohol enema is “repulsive” to Broughton, his lawyer said. “He is a straight man.”
Where to catch Dan Griffin, The Wooden Sky, Loon Choir…
Halloween on a Wednesday begs the question: which weekend do you party? If you stayed in last week, there’s still plenty of time to cut eye holes out of an old white sheet, call it a costume, and take in a show. You may or may not be the only one dressed up. Here are this week’s five can’t miss shows. Costumes are optional.
1. Best known as the keyboardist for Arkells, Dan Griffin is a compelling solo artist too. The ‘Leave Your Love’ singer teams up with Zeus for a show at Queen’s University’s The Grad Club on Nov. 2. Ticket info here. (Click over to Griffin’s site for a free download.)
Our 132-page guide to Canada’s top schools is out now
The 22nd annual Maclean’s University Rankings issue—the holy book for anyone planning their education in Canada—is now available on newsstands and tablets.
The 2013 issue, our biggest-ever, features 132 pages of charts, stories and advice designed to help future students choose the right school, while sparking conversations on the quality of the post-secondary experience from the size of classes to the cost of textbooks.
The issue also offers a peek inside campus life from coast to coast, including an examination of the viral videos phenomenon, a deeper look at the scourge of drinking, Emma Teitel on fraternities, the college advantage and pages more. There are online extras, too, like photo tours of life at 24 campuses.
And, of course, the issue features the 22nd annual rankings.