Nowhere to go but up: Concordia no longer dead last in MacLean’s annual rankings

Oops…Concordia did it again!

Keeping-up with its tradition of ranking poorly in Maclean’s annual Canadian University rankings, the school places tenth out of 11 schools overall in the comprehensive category.

Although a step-up from 2001’s last place finish, Concordia is still lagging behind in many of the comprehensive categories, in which the University of Guelph was ranked first overall.

“I feel bad that we’re down there,” said Dr. Arshad Ahmad, associate professor and director of the co-op program at the John Molson school of business. Named one of Concordia’s most popular professors in ‘The Maclean’s Guide to Canadian Universities 2002’, Arshad doesn’t “think anyone can provide any evidence that proves students choose a university based on a survey. They will come to your school because of many factors.”

Maclean’s divides the 47 Canadian universities into three categories: primarily undergraduate, comprehensive, and medical doctoral. As part of the comprehensive category, this means that Concordia does a significant amount of research activity and has a wide range of programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels, including professional degrees.

“What people think when they hear the name Concordia is rebellion,” said Rebecca Martel, a first-year journalism student, who feels that the school’s political issues is one of the reason’s it ranks so low.

She went on to say that what happens at the university plays more of an influential role in the public’s view. Maclean’s seems to agree, naming activism as “hot” on campus.

“Yes, it shows that we have ideas and that we rise for them, but it also shows that ideas should be more active without being destructive,” continued Martel.

Ranking first for out-of-province first-year students it attracts, Concordia seems to be known more for the city that houses it and its political issues than for academics.

Robert Di Cesare, a third-year mechanical engineering student, agreed, saying that Montreal “is an excellent city. The [ranking] shows that [Concordia] is known to be a better university than it’s given credit for.”

The comprehensive universities were ranked in six categories that were further separated into 22 sections. Concordia rates above average in six of the divisions, including for out-of-province first-year students.

In the student body division, the school ranked fourth for the amount of international students it attracts. In terms of the number of students competing for space in the classroom, it placed second for first and second year class sizes and fifth for third and fourth year level class sizes.

Social Sciences and Humanities grants pushed Concordia to the second spot, as alumni support equally helped it to second, in the faculty and reputation divisions respectively.

In the libraries category, Concordia was ranked tenth in terms of holdings per student, eighth in acquisitions, and last for expenses.

William Curran, director of libraries at Concordia, explained that “while Concordia Library has indeed pioneered in some services [such as] the laptop loans in a wireless technology environment, the 24-hour access, and the hands-on orientation facilities, it would appear that other libraries in the ranking have had a substantial infusion of funds into their acquisition budget – which we have not had.”

Curran added that although he was not completely certain that Concordia’s acquisition budget was lagging behind that of others, he believed it to be the case.

As for finances, Concordia ranked last for operating budget once, ninth for scholarships and bursaries (as it did last year), and eight for student services, dropping two places from 2001’s report.

Concordia Rector Frederick Lowy was unavailable to comment on the results of the survey by press time.


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