Concordia University came in dead last yet again in this year’s Maclean’s magazine annual university rankings. The university placed 11th in the comprehensive category 8212; universities with graduate programs, but no medical school.
For the second year in a row, university administrations were minimally involved in providing information to the magazine.
Since 2006, Concordia has denied requests for information from Maclean’s, effectively dropping out of the rankings. At the time, administration said its refusal to participate was based on a flawed and inaccurate ranking system.
Concordia wasn’t the only university who was displeased with the results. UniversitÃ© de MontrÃ©al, York, and University of Alberta were among the nearly 20 institutions that refused to help Maclean’s compile its ranking, claiming the methodology was flawed.
“There was a lot of discussion with Maclean’s, trying to get them to change their methodology,” said Concordia spokesperson Chris Mota. “And there were some changes granted but certainly not the kind to make it an even playing field.”
Another reason many universities were deterred from participating was the amount of time Maclean’s expected administration to spend filling out surveys and information forms. These surveys not only requested detailed information from each university’s administration, it also asked that universities rank each other.
Getting universities to pit themselves against each other proved inaccurate and too time consuming, Mota said.
Assistant editor at Maclean’s, Cameron Ainsworth-Vincze admitted the magazine was, perhaps, asking too much of the universities.
“As much as we’re appreciative of their time, it is a lot of work in terms of compiling statistics and giving us the information that we would then use and give to our statistician,” he said.
By last year, however, there had been enough resistance from universities to encourage Maclean’s to change its system for information compiling and ranking.
Instead of relying on administrations for information, Maclean’s now goes to third-party agencies such as Statistics Canada, The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Canada, The National Science and Engineering Research of Canada, and The Canadian Association of Research Libraries, according to Ainsworth-Vincze.
But the schools aren’t completely shut out of the information-gathering process.
“They still give us information,” Ainsworth-Vincze said. “It’s not like there’s absolutely no contact between us and the universities.”
This year, schools were given only one short form to fill out, containing basic information about the university. Ainsworth-Vincze said he believes the new methodology “puts everyone on the same playing field in terms of information because it all comes from the same source.”
Aside from overall rankings, this year Maclean’s included a table laying out how much a student would pay to attend a given university.
Maclean’s calculated Concordia’s ancillary fees for an Arts and Science student to be $1,519 8212; the second highest of any of the over 60 institutions included on the list. The Concordian, however, calculated the total amount of ancillary fees for an Arts and Science student enrolled in five classes to be $1,266.40.
The Concordian used numbers provided by the Concordia’s Board of Governors in September for its calculations.
While Ainsworth-Vincze said the university provided the figures for that calculation, Mota said she does not remember being asked for it. If Maclean’s had requested it, Mota said, it would have been provided.