|November 12, 1999||Volume 7, Number 6|
MacKinnon takes issue with Macleans rankings
While acknowledging its "a concern" and hed like the U of S to score better, Pres. Peter MacKinnon says he wont let the annual Macleans ranking of Canadas universities steer actions at the University.
In comments to reporters Nov. 8, the day after release of the Macleans results, MacKinnon said the values of the magazines survey dont fit the values of the U of S, which partly explains why this University places low each year.
This year, for the second year in a row, the U of S slipped one place in the overall rankings in its category of "medical/doctoral" universities. It fell to 14th out of 15 medical/doctoral universities. Last year it fell to 13th place, from 12th in 1997.
MacKinnon said Macleans doesnt measure a number of criteria on which the U of S would score well, like low tuition fees and accessibility for Saskatchewan residents and its measures of things like reputation and alumni support are skewed against the U of S.
"The U of S is, in effect, punished by Macleans for low tuition fees ...(and) the rankings do not take into account the special mandates of universities like the U of S, whose first commitment is to serve the people of this province.
"I dont think we can chart our course by the Macleans survey," MacKinnon told half a dozen reporters in a telephone news conference conducted from Swift Current, where he was on the second leg of a tour to various parts of the province.
In fact, MacKinnon said that in spite of scoring low on the "reputation" question, "I happen to know, by many personal contacts, that the U of S is a highly-respected university. All our programs are fully subscribed this year, and our enrolment is up."
He said the University is taking measures to stress high quality in a number of areas like the recently instituted systematic program review of all areas of the U of S, and a renewed emphasis on gaining a larger share of national research funding.
"I would be very surprised if our plans and our progress dont register in the Macleans survey in the near future," MacKinnon told reporters.
He said it must be recognized that these rankings are among universities which are all of comparable good quality, not between very good and very bad institutions.
MacKinnon said Macleans measures alumni contributions by the number contributing, not by overall contributions so, "if we had asked each alumni to contribute $1, we would have come in first" in that category. Yet, he said, the U of S focuses its fundraising efforts on alumni in a position to contribute, and as a result raises $800,000 per year.
And he said he has "no doubt whatsoever" that the reputational survey of high school guidance counsellors, university officials and others concentrates on those "largely located in Ontario, B.C. and highly populated centres" so the universities in those places do well.
MacKinnon did say the U of S needs to do better on some of the factors mentioned in the Macleans survey.
"Sure its a concern ... We have to see our success in national research council awards increase.
"Our beginning salaries (for faculty) have to be improved.
"(And) we want to put in place more scholarships."
But the bottom line, MacKinnon said, is that "students are getting a very good quality of education at the University of Saskatchewan."
In the medical/doctoral category, universities ranked, from first to 15th: Toronto, UBC & Queens (tied for second), McGill, Western, McMaster, Alberta, Dalhousie, Montreal, Calgary, Laval, Ottawa, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Sherbrooke.
Macleans found overall:
In the "Primarily Undergraduate" category of universities, Acadia came first.
In the "Comprehensive" category, Waterloo came first.
The Macleans criteria include incoming student grades, % of students from out-of-province, graduation rates, class sizes, % of faculty with PhDs, number of faculty getting research grants, money spent on student services, operating budget per student, library volumes per student, and reputation.
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