Our school’s rating continues to rise according to the QS World University Rankings system
Concordia has moved up for the fourth consecutive year in the QS World University Rankings, improving from its 461-470 range last year to 411-420 according to a report released Sept. 15.
The rankings, released last week, show the overall standings of approximately 3,500 universities worldwide, and listed the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as number one, followed by Harvard University and the University of Cambridge.
Benoit-Antoine Bacon, who has been provost at Concordia for three years, explained that these rankings are better understood in the greater context of things. “There’s a kind of narrowing effect as we get to the universities that really have an impact on the world stage,” he said. “So when you’ve made it past the 500 mark, you’re essentially in the very small percentage of universities that are large enough, and are research intensive enough, to have an impact on the world stage. So already to be there is big, and we’ve been there for a while.”
Bacon went on to say that the higher you go, the more intense the competition becomes. “Everybody is trying to get better. But any movement upwards is encouraging, it tells us that we’re doing the right thing,” Bacon said.
Concordia president Alan Shepard was also delighted to announce the new rankings.
“Concordia has gone up a really significant amount over the last four years, and that is really gratifying,” he said in an interview after a Board of Directors meeting last Wednesday.
According to Bacon, three topics in particular have contributed to Concordia’s rise in the rankings: the university’s international component, faculty productivity, and overall reputation. In terms of the international component, Bacon said the rankings have increasingly recognized Concordia’s international faculty and students, as well as its global impact, which he said “makes up a big proportion of our moving up.”
Concordia’s faculty productivity has also improved. “We’ve hired over the past 10 years a new generation of faculty members that are, let’s say, more productive in research than the faculty who were hired here 40 years ago … both their number and their quality have been outstanding,” said Bacon. The university has just welcomed 27 new full-time faculty members and has is working to bring in 30 more next year, he said.
Finally, Bacon attributes Concordia’s reputation improvement particularly to the fact that graduates have been well-received by employers. “I think the Co-op program that we’ve continued to grow here is a big part of that,” he said. “Employers expect the people they hire to have that kind of experience [theoretical and practical] in the field. We have about 17,000 students taking part in the program now, so I think that continues to increase our reputation.”
The QS World University Rankings is measured based on a number of factors, including Academic reputation (40 per cent), Employer reputation (10 per cent), and Citations per faculty (20 per cent), among others.
But there is still room for much improvement at Concordia, said Bacon. “Nobody will ever convince me that there is a point you can get to where everything is so perfect that you can just lay back and enjoy it,” he said. Research at the university has taken great steps forward, he continued, but good research “doesn’t only mean the productivity or the dollars, but also having research that is meaningful, that solves questions for the 21st century. We can always do that better.”
The new age of technology is also a factor universities everywhere are dealing with, Bacon said. Figuring what is best done in person and online, and best integrating the old and the new is something Concordia can always improve on, he said.
The university has also been facing austerity cuts. While they may prevent the hiring of more faculty and staff, and increasing student support, Bacon said that this hardship is being faced by several institutions. “We in Quebec face fiscal constraints, but we can’t imagine that we’re the only ones. The whole Western world is tightening up and is facing this reality,” he said.
However, Concordia’s climb in the rankings is good news for the university, and a sign that it will continue to improve. “It’s an indication that we’re going in the right direction in terms of research, teaching and student experience,” he said. “I think we can all be proud.”