Top universities in Canada do not like getting ranked numerically. The disapproval by university officials reached a point in 2006 that 11 universities refused to complete the university ranking survey by Maclean's.
While the university ranking might be oversimplifying a rather complicated topic, it is exactly what students need to know to understand the difference from one university to another, and help them guide their selections of undergraduate program to enter. In an increasingly globalized economy, students are getting curious about how universities perform with their peers not just in the country, but in the entire world. That explains the popularity gain of world university rankings by QS, Times, and U.S. News. So I did an aggregation of data to save your time of compiling something similar, with insights to follow.
Here is a comparison of Canadian university rankings published by QS, Times, U.S. News and Maclean's. I added a column "Average" to show the average rankings, and a column "Standard Deviation" to show, well, how diversely publishers view the rankings.
The Top 3
University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, and McGill University are considered the Top 3 Canadian universities by QS, Times and U.S. News. Maclean's, on the other hand, only agree with others on the reputation of University of Toronto. The top 3 universities locate in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, the largest 3 cities in Canada.
The Missing Few
Maclean's issue a different set of ranking that is split into 3 categories: medical/doctoral, comprehensive, and undergraduate. The intention is, I guess, to give smaller universities an opportunity to shine in the undergraduate category. Unfortunately these smaller players do not carry much influence in the wold university ranking. For example, Mount Allison University is considered to be the best university in the primarily undergraduate category. However, it is not even listed in QS, Times, or U.S. News.
The International V.S. Domestic Difference
You probably have noticed in the Top 3 rankings. Maclean's do not quite agree with other 3 publishers that issues world university rankings. In certain areas, the difference is quite huge.
Take University of Waterloo as an example. It is considered to be the 2nd best university in Canada by Maclean's but considered by others to be No. 7 to 9. While the co-op program powers University of Waterloo to be considered a great source talents by employers, it looks like the international reputation is yet to follow. Ryerson University is another outlier. Maclean's considers it to be 16, a relatively high ranking among 36 universities being ranked. The other publishers consider it to be 25 or 26, fairly low in the game. Queen's University and University of Guelph are considered very good by Maclean's, but not as outstanding by others. University of Ottawa on the other hand carries a good reputation world wide, but not so much domestically, maybe because of the attraction of capital city.
In fact, Maclean's seem to be the one disagreeing with others quite often. This is further shown in rankings with a standard deviation value of 3 and above.
Not many students face the dilemma of choosing between a world renown university and a great university in its own country. If you are one of the few in this bitter sweet spot, try ask yourself about the future. Do you plan to establish your career in Canada, or take the challenge overseas?
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