Thursday, August 17, 2006

Canadian university rankings.

Hm. According to this, a dozen or so leading Canadian universities have opted out of the annual Maclean's ranking of university programs. Something smells, though. Even though the rankings surely have technical problems -- two are identified in the article linked -- I'm highly suspicious of the move to withdraw, rather than improve the rankings. Or, for that matter, substitute a different set of rankings for Maclean's. It looks more like the big kids on the playground taking their ball and going home, leaving the smaller kids to fend for themselves. Losing some of Canada's biggest universities from the rankings will seriously reduce their impact on student decision-making, and, I would suspect, encourage students to stick with the "known" universities, and avoid the lesser-known (but still possibly good) institutions.

Furthermore, there's really nothing other than Maclean's providing ranking of undergraduate programs across Canada. Depriving students of even a flawed ranking tool leaves students faced with no way of deciding between programs. At the very least, there needs to be more information given to students in order to make an informed decision between various university programs. Dumping university hopefuls on the (at best) barely-competent high school guidance department is no solution.

More comments here at Leiter's Law School Reports.


Anonymous said...

its all the top schools that pulled out. uoft and york are always rated poorly when compared to smaller queens and guelph. it just has to be a concern that macleans holds the power for the education system in canada.

ADHR said...

Not quite true. McGill, AFAIK, is still participating. And it's hard to call either the University of Lethbridge or Simon Fraser "top schools". I also don't believe that York has pulled out (but I'm not sure about that).

I think you're over-exaggerating the power that the Maclean's rankings have. Most students, in my experience, just go to the closest university. Moreover, none of the universities that pulled out are suggesting a replacement for the Maclean's rankings (a ranking tool would be quite useful for students who do want to go further away from home) -- which makes the "protest" ring a little hollow, and look like no more than sour grapes.

(Incidentally, why do you assume that U of T and York shouldn't rank poorly against Queens and Guelph? From what I've heard, Queens is a much more pleasant undergrad experience because it's quite a bit smaller.)