Once again, Maclean's has issued its annual rankings of Canadian universities. As in past years, we have fared rather poorly. In fact, this year Concordia has been ranked at the bottom of the "comprehensive universities" category.
Concordia's ranking comes as no surprise, since Maclean's has not revised its ranking system, despite numerous complaints (and a partial boycott in 1994) on the part of many Canadian universities since the inception of the rankings in 1990.
In essence, Concordia is penalized for assuring accessibility, what we consider to be one of our fundamental institutional touchstones. We lose points in the Maclean's ratings because of our liberal admissions policy and our encouragement of mature and part-time students.
We will not, of course, change our mission and our social commitment to suit the Maclean's survey, and we will continue to encourage part-time and mature students, people who combine work and study, to attend our university.
Like our sister institutions in Quebec, the punishing cuts to university funding and the continued freeze of tuition fees also handicap us. The inadequacy of financial resources shows up in categories such as student services, scholarships and bursaries and library holdings. We are again penalized for being fiscally responsible and not running up deficits to add additional funds to these areas.
Being a young university also colours our success in categories like alumni support. However, we have made significant progress in this area, especially in the past three years.
As a public institution, we have no problem admitting our weaknesses and identifying areas where we have to improve. However, our strengths and innovative efforts in many academic areas are not reflected in the Maclean's ratings, nor are our achievements in developing forward-looking academic, space and budget planning, despite the disastrous budget cuts. This is unfortunate and unfair.
Although we have serious criticism of the Maclean's rankings, we do recognize that the exercise does focus some public attention on post-secondary education and university issues. We all agree that a vital university system is crucial for the future of Quebec and all of Canada.
Rector and Vice-Chancellor