Volume 92, Issue 41

Tuesday, November 17, 1998

no. 1 where it counts


Making the grade

And the scores are in...

The annual Maclean's rankings, which are published each year as a guide to the "best and worst" of Canadian universities, has garnered quite a bit of attention at Western in the past few years. This is due to the fact that last year, Western plummeted to ninth place, after a previous standing of sixth.

Well, Mustangs can stand purple and proud once again. Yesterday's rankings indicated we are on the rise – to fifth place, no less. If it hadn't been questioned before, this incredible jump raises some suspicion as to the validity and purpose of the Maclean's ranking system.

While some students say the magazine has no influence upon their decisions to attend one university over another, someone must be reading the issue for information. Last year, as Western administration steadfastly denounced the usefulness of the rankings, they also formed a commission to improve Western in the eye of Maclean's. Obviously they've accomplished their goal.

So what has improved to raise Western four places on the scale? One such reason given was our improved "reputation." The question is, how can anyone measure reputation?

Western has been obsessed over its reputation for a long time. Administration can rest easy, because apparently the "party school" image has been put aside, making Western a better Canadian school in relation to others.

Maclean's has claimed to be a "watchdog" for students, informing them on the schools in which they are seeking enrolment. Are high school students not able to make their own intelligent choices? The argument may be that the only information high school students receive is the propaganda forwarded by universities and colleges to guidance departments each year. Maclean's strives to give a secondary, impartial opinion of these schools.

But this opinion is obviously not without bias. Perhaps the efforts of Western's administration did not have a huge effect on the recent raise in ranks. But who is to say for sure? The whole process is too arbitrary and unscientific for the rankings to be trustworthy. While the polls and articles may provide some interesting reading, the issue should be seen for what it truly is – a ploy to sell magazines. It's ludicrous to believe it is anything more than this.

So this year Maclean's won't have Western knocking its poll. But, the University of Montreal, which is in ninth place this year, will have to start bettering its "reputation" if it wants the kind of great recognition which comes from such an informed source as Maclean's.

To Contact The Editorial Department: gazette.editor@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998