Rankings don’t need school input

Maclean’s editor says third-party information ‘more transparent’

This week, Maclean’s magazine released their 17th annual list of university rankings in terms of overall academic success.

It was the first edition of the rankings published after 22 universities dropped out of Maclean’s survey last year. Previously, the rankings relied heavily on information the universities gave the magazine.

Managing Editor of Special Projects Tony Keller said none of the information Maclean’s used in this year’s rankings came directly from the universities themselves.

Maclean’s gathered their information from a number of public information sources, including the Canadian Association of University Business Officers, the National Survey of Student Engagement and the Canadian Undergraduate Survey Consortium.

“We don’t ask each university the number of student awards they won,” he said. “We go to each one of those award bodies and count up how many were won by each university’s student body.”

Keller said one of the advantages of gathering information from other sources as opposed to from a university is being able to present entirely public third-party information.

“That’s a hugely positive thing,” he said. “One could also argue that there are some things universities aren’t making public, such as entering grades, graduation rate, and retention rate.”

Keller said Maclean’s use of publicly available sources has changed the nature of how they gather information because they no longer have to rely on asking universities directly for this information.

“The big difference is that it’s more transparent and fair, and you’re less likely to have universities accusing one another of exaggerating some of the data when you’re looking at data we’ve gathered ourselves,” he said.

Keller said not all universities are consistent in the information they make available to the public.

“There’s some universities that won’t make that public, some that will, and some that are somewhere in between those two positions,” he said.

Keller said it’s hard to do a comparison of all universities unless the universities make all of their information available.

“I think this year’s university ranking is quite useful, but it’s only a starting point.”

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