Concordia's Thursday Report

Vol. 28, No.6

November 20, 2003


Concordia ranks seventh in Maclean's poll

by Barbara Black

Concordia climbed from 10th to seventh out of 11 among “comprehensive universities” in the annual rankings published by Maclean’s magazine on Nov. 17.

While this is gratifying, it is not a breakthrough, according to Cameron Tilson, Senior Planning and Policy Analyst in the Rector’s Cabinet, who compiles and analyzes data for the demanding survey.

In a summary, Tilson said that the rise in the rankings is due to two linked factors: the entering-grades indicator, which is given an 11-per-cent weighting, and the proportion of students with a minimum entering average of at least 75 per cent, given a 2-per-cent weighting.

“The methodology adopted in 2003 by all participating Quebec universities to convert CEGEP entering grades to a numerical average pushed these indicators upward,” Tilson wrote. “In fact, all Quebec universities except the Université de Montréal increased in this category relative to 2002. McGill was the highest in the country in these indicators.”

Worth noting is the fact that Concordia ranked the same in the “Reputational Survey” as in previous years, a pleasant surprise given the widely publicized political controversies of 2002-03.

“Our traditional strengths in the rankings have been in the area of small class sizes, research performance (especially in the social sciences and humanities), alumni support, library acquisitions and the numbers of students we attract from other provinces and outside of Canada,” Tilson said in his summary.

The areas in which we continue to perform poorly are in university financing. Concordia is lowest among the comprehensive universities in terms of operating funds, expenditures on student services, and scholarships and other student support. Concordia’s library indicator dropped due to underfunding and a marked increase in enrolment over the past few years.

“This highlights the reality of chronic underfunding — most other Quebec universities also performed poorly in the financial categories,” Tilson concluded. “Also apparent for us is the need to look at shifting more resources into student support services and the libraries. As our enrolments continue to increase, we need to reinvest in these areas to better serve the additional clientele.”

The overall leader among the comprehensives once again was the University of Guelph, which has a strong commitment to engaging undergraduates in research, and was praised for innovative teaching.

McGill came second to the University of Toronto in the medical doctoral group, a rise from third in the survey last year. While McGill ranked highly for its reputation and the quality of its students, it did relatively poorly in finances, class size, and classes taught by tenured faculty. The Université du Québec did not participate.