We may see a rise
in our ranking in this years Macleans magazine survey,
thanks to improvements in the proportion of Concordia undergraduates who
complete their studies, our social sciences, humanities and fine arts
grants from the SSHRC and the Canada Council, and our level of alumni
Cameron Tilson works in the Rectors Cabinet and directs the collection
of data for the Macleans special issue. He has been tracking
changes at Concordia in relation to last years submissions to
Macleans by other institutions in our category, called by the
magazine comprehensive universities.
We have improved in 10 categories and decreased slightly in five,
he said. In the three categories named above, the magnitude of the improvement
may be enough to increase our standings within the category relative to
the other universities.
Macleans magazine publishes a special issue every fall in
which universities and colleges across Canada are ranked on a variety
of criteria. This years edition is expected to hit the newsstands
on November 13.
The rankings have been sharply criticized by many institutions, and virtually
all have expressed resentment at the amount of time and energy that must
be devoted to compiling the data requested by the magazine.
Last year, Concordia improved its ranking from last out of 12 institutions
in the comprehensives category to 10th out of 12. In fact,
we were the only Quebec university to improve our ranking last year; the
others descended in rank or stayed the same. However, every year since
the Macleans survey began, we have been ranked at or very
near last place.
As in 1999, we have taken an aggressive approach, Tilson said.
For example, in the calculation of an institutional incoming
average of CEGEP and high school applicants, worth 12 per cent of
the total, the failed grades on applicants transcripts were omitted
from the calculation. This is what is done by Ontario, and probably other
Also, we included the substantial catalogued collections held by
the Counselling and Development Careers Library (approximately 20,000
items) in our library data.
On the other hand, the financial data that is submitted is compared
by Macleans to the universities annual submissions
to the Canadian Association of University Business Officers, so there
is no flexibility in the financial categories. Also our faculty headcount
is the same as that submitted annually to Statistics Canada. This is actually
a good thing, as we are assured that there are some checks and balances
in the system.
Concordia has developed an Excel-based tool for predicting our overall
ranking. It converts the values for each category to a points system,
working a bit like sports standings.
The only weakness in this is that we can only compare our current-year
results with the previous years data from the other universities,
Tilson explained. Also, we do not have access to the reputational
survey data, which is worth 15 per cent of the points used for the
This part of the survey is based on responses to letters sent to 5,467
school guidance counsellors, university administrators and business people
across Canada. Note that in 1999, the respnse rate to the reputational
survey was only 13.5 per cent. Thus, a large proportion of the overall
rankings is based on a survey with a relatively poor response rate.