It’s university-ranking season. Every fall, two of Canada’s most widely read news outlets — the Globe and Mail and Maclean’s — release their university report cards, which use different methods to calculate their results.
While Concordia fell one spot in the Maclean’s overall ranking for comprehensive universities this year, it was ranked higher in certain areas, and continued to fare very well in the Globe and Mail’s report.
The Canadian University Report, issued by the Globe and Mail in association with Higher Education Strategy Associates (HESA), relies on a survey of 31,000 undergraduate university students who rate their own universities.
Worth noting on Concordia’s report card are three B+ marks: in quality of teaching and learning, student-faculty interaction, and class size. The B+ ranking in quality of teaching and learning is the same grade received by McGill University and the University of Toronto.
Though the numbers for class sizes remained similar to previous years in the Maclean’s rankings, Concordia improved its standing from 10th to eighth spot in the measure of student-to-faculty ratios among comprehensive universities.
“These findings reflect our commitment to providing an outstanding learning experience for our students,” says Concordia’s President Alan Shepard.
Another important showing Concordia made in the Maclean’s rankings was in the size and number of social sciences and humanities research grants it received, moving to fifth spot from sixth among comprehensive universities in the country.
These gains were reflected in a report released this September by HESA, which measured academic research in Canada. It ranked Concordia ninth in the country in social sciences and humanities and 20th in natural sciences and engineering.
“These findings demonstrate our commitment to strengthening our research offerings at Concordia through the new Academic Plan,” says Shepard, adding that he hopes the university’s research rankings will improve across all Faculties in the coming years.
Concordia also received a B+ in the Globe and Mail’s report in its environmental commitment and its use of information technology — two areas where the university has demonstrated strong leadership, Shepard says.
“Two of our new buildings have just received silver and gold ratings LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). A sustainable campus is one of our priorities,” he insists. “As well, the fact that we expect to have over 35,000 registrations in online programs this year shows how our commitment to making education accessible through innovative, new technologies is garnering strong interest.”
The Maclean’s rankings rely on data from public sources when it becomes available, which means they use figures spanning different years. The data used for the rankings of libraries is from the 2010-11 school year, before Concordia significantly increased its acquisitions budget. Even so, the university’s ranking improved to 11 from 13. In 2011-12, the university allocated $500,000 for increased acquisitions. Beginning this year, the libraries will receive an additional $1 million annually.
The Maclean’s University Rankings also include a national reputation ranking, which relies on a survey of high school guidance counsellors, university officials, corporate recruiters, directors and CEOs. Concordia remained steady among the reputational rankings of comprehensive universities, but made significant gains in the “leaders of tomorrow” category. “This indicates that opinion leaders are confident that our university is well prepared for the future,” Shepard says.
Of course, there’s more to a university experience than what happens in the classroom. An aspect of Concordia’s performance in the Globe and Mail report worth mentioning in this respect is an A in the sense of personal safety category, an A- in city satisfaction, and a B+ in overall campus atmosphere.
Given its increasingly international student body, it’s perhaps not surprising that Concordia is receiving more attention from overseas university rankings, as well. Earlier this year, Concordia appeared in a ranking put out by the British-based publication, Times Higher Education. Coming in 91st, it was one of only four Canadian schools to make the top-100 list of universities created in the past 50 years.
As well, this year Concordia’s John Molson School of Business moved up two spots internationally to 78th position, and into third place in Canada, in the "Which MBA?" survey, published every year by the Economist.
“The results of these rankings and surveys show that we are making important progress in becoming a leading Canadian university,” Shepard says. “Nevertheless, we need to continue to look for areas where we can improve and help our university enhance its offerings. Now is not the time to be complacent.”
• The Globe and Mail Canadian University Report
• Maclean's University Rankings
• "Concordia University ranks in new global top 100" — NOW, June 1, 2012
• "JMSB moves up in worldwide rankings" — NOW, October 4, 2012