Queen’s drops out of Maclean’s

University among 22 to opt out of

Queen’s is one of 22 Canadian universities to opt out of Maclean’s annual university survey.
Queen’s is one of 22 Canadian universities to opt out of Maclean’s annual university survey.

Queen’s is among at least 22 schools to pull out of Maclean’s magazine’s university ranking issue.

“In recent years, there has been considerable concern in the University community about the methodology used by Maclean’s in their ranking of Canadian universities,” Principal Karen Hitchcock said in a statement released Aug. 23.

“We are now seeing the withdrawal of 11 of Canada’s universities, a development that can only further erode the credibility and value of the survey.”

Hitchcock was referring to the letter 11 university presidents sent to Tony Keller, Maclean’s special projects managing editor, announcing their intention to withdraw from the survey. In the letter, sent on Aug. 14, the universities expressed reservations regarding the survey’s methodology.

The letter was signed by Dalhousie University, McMaster University, Simon Fraser University, University of Alberta, the University of British Columbia, the University of Calgary, the University of Lethbridge, University of Manitoba, Université de Montreal, University of Ottawa and the University of Toronto.

Twenty-two of the 47 universities in Canada have now withdrawn from the survey.

Andrew Simpson, vice-principal (operations and finance), said Hitchcock conferred with administrators and members of the Board of Trustees before deciding to pull out.

“The integrity and validity of the survey was at a point where the amount of resources we put into developing the customized data that Maclean’s required ... was not well spent,” Simpson said.

Simpson said withdrawing from the survey won’t compromise its commitment to accountability or freedom of information. He said more than 50 per cent of the information Maclean’s requires for its survey–information such as average entering grades and the level of diversity among the University population–will be available on its website.

The University won’t present customized information, however, such as the number of professors who teach first-year courses.

“I don’t know how Maclean’s will respond to their inability to get at some of that data,” Simpson said.

Keller said the magazine will search for its required information in their internal reports, so the upcoming Nov. 2 issue will go on as planned.

“We’re not going to use faulty data, we’re not going to punish any universities by trying to make them look bad,” he said. “We’re trying to find the most accurate data we can to give people the most accurate look.”

Because universities are publicly funded institutions, they should be obligated to make key information available to the public, Keller said.

“If these universities aren’t going to make any of this information public, then that’s going to leave potential students and taxpayers in the dark,” he said.

—With files from Matthew Trevisan

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