Volume 93, Issue 39

Tuesday, November 9, 1999


Maclean's rankings reveal Western makes the grade

New London web site to aid volunteers

Vandals deface Holy Roller in Victoria Park

Wong talks China and identity

D-Day Canada's top news event

Laptops, nudity top campus crime

Bass Ackwards

Maclean's rankings reveal Western makes the grade

By Paul-Mark Rendon
Gazette Staff

Although Western maintained its fifth place ranking in yesterday's annual Maclean's magazine university survey, Western's administration saw no cause for celebration.

In the list of top Canadian alma maters with Ph.D. programs and medical schools, Western fell in line behind the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia, Queen's University and McGill University, said Ann Dowsett Johnston, assistant managing editor for Maclean's.

Dowsett Johnston explained the annual appraisal examines variables such as class size, students' high school average, the number of tenured faculty, the extent of library holdings, as well as what portion of the school's budget is allotted to student services and scholarships. Western remained fifth among the 15 schools in its category, she said.

"As well, we do a reputational survey around the country where over 500 [chief executive officers], corporate recruiters, guidance counsellors and university academic officials respond," she added.

Greg Moran, Western's VP-academic, said he was pleased to find Western held its spot among the top schools in the nation.

"It's always good to see Western ranked as one of the best in the country because I'm confident we are – especially since faculty, staff and students are working under some difficult circumstances," he said, adding post-secondary institutions are currently in dire straits in terms of government funding.

Still, Moran remained ambivalent about the rankings and said the listing was an oversimplification of a system which could not be boiled down. "There is a risk of an oversight. You can't characterize a university in a single dimension – universities are very diverse, multidimensional institutions," he said.

Johnston, however, defended the survey's importance as a guidance tool for students. "I would agree there's oversimplification in the ranking, but that isn't the same thing as to say it's meaningless. I think our record would prove we put our money where our mouth is."

But Moran said students need to look further than the numbers if they are intent on getting a clear picture about any specific university. "My strongest advice is to surely read surveys such as the one presented in Maclean's, but to look further into how the university matches with their interests," he added.

University Students' Council president SzeJack Tan agreed the survey should not be used as a final decision maker. "With the cost of university, students need a lot more than a magazine survey to make an educated decision," he said.

Jim Turk, executive director for the Canadian Association of University Teachers, said he too saw some problems with the yearly inspection. "It does provide some useful information, but it can be misleading. People take it almost like boxscores in a baseball or hockey game, but universities are much more diverse."

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