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U of C is now a top five research university

By Belen Tamariz, February 16 2022—

On Jan. 25, 2022, the University of Calgary was named Canada’s top-five research universities in 2021 through the Research Infosource’s latest Top 50 Research Universities list. 

In addition to U of C being the youngest university in the top-five list, it is also the first time the university has ranked among the top-five after the University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, McGill University and Université de Montréal. 

University President, Ed McCauley, said this ranking marks the competition of the institution’s long-term goal. 

“I congratulate the campus community on this achievement. It was a collective effort and we share in this success and all that will come next”, McCauley said in a UCalgary News release. 

U of C has had its sights on the ranking for over a decade. In 2011, the university’s then-president, Elizabeth Cannon, revealed a five-year strategy called Eyes High to become a top-five research university by 2016. 

Eyes High’s official public strategy statement is that the “University of Calgary is a global intellectual hub located in Canada’s most enterprising city. In this vibrant, high-quality learning environment, students will thrive in programs made rich by research, hands-on experiences and entrepreneurial thinking. By 2022 we will be recognized as one of Canada’s top-five research universities, fully engaging in communities we both serve and lead.” 

In the 2016-2017 school year, the U of C refreshed the original 2011 strategic direction following five years of underpinning foundational transformation, planning development, priority identification and resource allocation. 

The U of C highlighted three foundational commitments established by Eyes High, which were also updated after the feedback from the 2016 consultation process. Firstly “student: sharpen focus on research and scholarship,” then “campus culture: enrich the quality and breadth of learning” and lastly, “experience: integrate the university with the community.” 

U of C now states that the most important lesson learned from the foundational commitments was the “need to weave a rich and multifaceted student experience across each foundational commitment,” as by doing so, the university believes they will be strengthened and would be the key to their success in an inclusive, curiosity-driven and respectful campus culture. 

Research Infosource places Canadian universities into one of four categories — medical, comprehensive, undergraduate and specialized. They then ranked their performance based on the total amount of sponsored research income they generate, including all the funds to support research received in a grant, contribution or contract from all sources external to the institution. 

University of Calgary’s fifth-place rank among all Canadian universities was based on the $457 million of sponsored research income generated in 2019-2020, a 6.3 per cent decline from the previous year. That funding works out to $298,500 per faculty member and $67,800 per graduate student. The recent UCalgary News release explains that “since the submission of this data, UCalgary has also publicized the institution’s 2021 sponsored research income total of $504 million,” which is a 10.3 per cent increase over 2019-2020. 

Dr. William Ghali, the University of Calgary’s vice president of research, said that he was thrilled by the ranking. 

“The University of Calgary is performing in the ranks of much larger, more established institutions who inspire us to continue our pursuit of research excellence,” said Ghali. 

U of C has also ranked in the top five in four other major 20-year growth metrics. Being first in university cross-sector collaboration publication growth with a 522 per cent from 2000-2019, third in research publication growth with 226 per cent from 2000-2019 and in university international collaboration publication growth with 433 per cent from 2000-2019 and fourth in research income growth with 167 per cent from 2001-2020.

The University of Calgary has one of the fastest growth rates attracting research funding among Canada’s ten most prominent universities. Additionally, as a top-five research university, the University of Calgary is committed to generously sharing new knowledge and discoveries. U of C scholars are working to proactively address society’s challenges and positively impact the world around us. 

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