Opinions & Features Workshop (Oct 26th)

U of C falls just short of top 10 in Maclean’s annual university rankings

By Luis Armando Sanchez Diaz, January 18 2021—

Students are always on the hunt for information that can help them in their quest to enter a high-ranking post-secondary institution. Canada has consistently ranked among the countries with the best education systems. 

In the final months of 2020, Maclean’s magazine released its annual university rankings that review several components and programs at various universities. This year’s ranking marks the 30th anniversary that the Toronto-based magazine has published such information.

The magazine presents three different branches that allow for each of the universities being evaluated to be placed in one of them, highlighting their characteristics in that category. The categories, as stated by Maclean’s, are composed of “levels of research funding, diversity of offerings and breadth and depth of graduate and professional programs.” It is worth noting that the magazine does not take into account those post-secondary institutions that have less than 1,000 enrolled full-time students and that are not part of Universities Canada, among other characteristics.

The “Primary Undergraduate” category refers to those institutions that have a small share of graduate students and programs in contrast with the undergraduate section. The magazine also has the “Comprehensive” category where it places all the universities that have intensive research activity as well as numerous programs at all levels. Finally, Maclean’s has reserved one of the categories for “Medical Doctoral” institutions that offer various programs at the PhD level and also those that have medical schools. 

“In each category, Maclean’s ranks the institutions in five broad areas based on 13 performance indicators, allocating a weight to each indicator,” notes the magazine in an article where the methodology that was used is laid out. Each five areas and their weight in the final score are Students (28 per cent), Faculty (20 per cent), Resources (22 per cent), Student support (15 per cent) and Reputation (15 per cent). Added up, the categories amount to a score out of 100 which determines the place that each university ranks in.  

In the Primarily Undergraduate section, Mount Allison University maintained their number one spot while the second and third places went to the University of Lethbridge and Acadia University, climbing two and three spots respectively from last year’s ranking.

In the Comprehensive category, there was a tie for second place between the University of Victoria and the University of Waterloo. As for the top spot on the list, Simon Fraser University re-claimed it’s number one ranking from last year. 

For the Medical Doctoral section, McGill University landed on top of the list. In this section, the University of Calgary was tied for eighth place with two other universities located on the east coast, the University of Ottawa and Western University, while the University of Toronto ranked second. 

Maclean’s also publishes a ranking titled “Canada’s best universities by reputation” with four sections: Highest Quality, Most Innovative, Leaders of Tomorrow and Best Overall which is the result of the merging of the previously mentioned rankings plus the results of surveys they conduct with various business people and university faculty members and administrators.

Of the 49 ranked institutions, the University of Toronto placed at number one among all sections. 

U of C it placed eleventh in the Best Overall category while it placed tenth and twelfth in the Most Innovative and Highest Quality categories respectively. In the Leaders of Tomorrow category, U of C reached eighth place.

Of the top 15 Best Overall list only five post-secondary institutions located in western Canada made the list: the University of British Columbia (2), the University of Alberta (6), Simon Fraser University (6), the University of Calgary (11) and the University of Victoria (14). Ontario was the province with the most universities ranking in the top 15 spots. 


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