The reputations of three Canadian universities have slightly decreased, as per the Times Higher Education (THE) World Reputation Rankings 2014.
According to THE’s website, these rankings determine the “top 100 most powerful global university brands” by compiling the judgment of academics invited to contribute their opinions.
In their fourth year of compilation, the 2014 Rankings are the result of a survey of 10,536 academics from 133 countries. They were released on March 5, and Queen’s failed to rank.
The only Canadian universities to place in the top 100 were the University of Toronto (U of T), McGill University and the University of British Columbia (UBC).
In 2013, U of T was ranked 16th while McGill and UBC were both ranked 31st. This year’s results outline a four-position fall to 20th place for U of T and a two-position decrease to 33rd place for McGill and UBC.
The results come after the Journal reported in September that Queen’s fell 14 spots in Quacquarelli Symonds’ World University Rankings, from 175th to 189th place within the top 400 universities.
In an interview with The Montreal Gazette, Phil Baty, editor of THE Rankings, expressed concern about the decline, notably contrasting it with the standing of U.S. universities that hold 46 of the 100 positions.
He said the way in which the federal government distributes research funding might affect the rankings of Canadian universities, contrasting an egalitarian approach to distribution with one favouring institutions seen to be on the cutting edge of research.
International student Kirti Sharda said sheer geographic distance from campus caused her to rely on university rankings.
Sharda is a third-year Commerce student from Singapore.
“I just looked at the rankings. Honestly, I’m clueless about universities in Canada. So, the only way that I can gauge the university’s quality is through rankings,” Sharda said.
Eadaoin Candon is a third-year Commerce student from Dublin, Ireland.
“When you don’t know a lot about a university, one of the first things that you can do is quickly Google and see what is this university known for, what are its best faculties, and where does it rank in terms of other universities in that country and also globally,” Candon said.
The criteria used in ranking universities and the weight placed on each criterion is also essential, according to Marie Joachin, an MBA student from France.
“I would prefer to look at a ranking based on objective criteria, which could be the salary when you have to start working, or just how people who are supposed to hire you see the school,” she said.
“In their mind, is it a good school? So, in the mind of academics, I really don’t care, because they’re not going to hire me, anyway. So, subjective criteria, they don’t count for me,” Joachin said.
Ranking calculations aside, other factors can also impact international students’ decisions to attend Queen’s.
Carol Nairn is a third-year chemical engineering student from Glasgow, Scotland. She said she was looking for an experience different from her home university and in a different kind of city.
“I did look at rankings but it wasn’t my decision-making factor because I knew that I wanted an exchange experience and Queen’s has this huge thing about school spirit that I heard about and didn’t really understand, but understood when I got here,” she said.
She said factors such as inter-university course or program compatibility, faculty-specific ratings, the shared language, and non-academic experience affected her choice.
“[Queen’s is a] very good school, but it can combine that with the other elements I was looking for in my exchange.”
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