Principal Deane calls Queen’s global rankings ‘depressing’

Deane tells Board of Trustees that Queen’s is on a downward trend

Deane spoke about the influence of rankings on the University’s student body.

Principal Patrick Deane called the global standing of Queen’s a “critically important issue” in his address to the Board of Trustees on Sept. 25.

“It has never been more important to think strategically about the future of our University,” Deane said. “That includes some of these persistent challenging issues such as EDII and, more specifically, racism on our campus.”

“In the last couple of months, we’ve had a number of conversations with the Board about the importance of the rankings and the challenges with continuing to remain aloof with the rankings, which has been our historical position on them.”

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Deane said the recently released Times Higher Education rankings provide a “helpful and informative” picture about the University, especially in comparison to other post-secondary institutions. These rankings are completed by a number of external bodies that collect and compare performance-based data about universities around the world. 

He referred to Queen’s current rankings as “depressing.”

“It’s important to speak the truth and to look the reality in the eye. In the most recent Times Higher Education ranking, which are increasingly among the most influential, we ranked 251-300. If you look at that within the approximately 19,000 - 20,000 universities worldwide, that is pretty good,” Deane said.

“On the other hand, if you look at our comparator institutions, it is concerning.”

He said the University of Waterloo rose in the rankings this year to a ranking of 201-250. The University of Toronto rose to 18, McMaster University rose to 69 in the world, and the University of Ottawa to 145. 

“[In the Academic Ranking of World Universities], we are placed in the envelop of 201-300, an envelope which is approximately 100 places behind Waterloo, Ottawa, Montreal, Calgary, and a considerable amount behind some of the other institutions we typically benchmark ourselves,” Deane said.

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In the QS World University Rankings, Queen’s ranked 246th in the world. Deane referred to this ranking as “the third most influential.”

“I would point out this is the culmination of a downward trend over a decade,” he said. “We entered the QS ranking at 181 in 2012 and we are now at 246.”

However, according to the QS World University Ranking’s categorization of universities by subject, the Department of Mining Engineering withing the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at Queen’s is ranked eighth in the world.

“It does speak to considerable strengths in our University,” Deane said.

He added the University will also be participating in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings for the first time this year. This ranking assesses post-secondary institutions on the basis of their contributions to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

“Whether we like it or not, [these rankings] do have an influence on which students, from what parts of the world, wish to come here to study,” Deane said. “What institutions in what parts of the world wish to receive our students and where researchers could be collaborators with our own.”

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The original version of this article stated the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science ranked eighth in the world, instead of the Department of Mining Engineering within the FEAS.

The Journal regrets the error.

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