On March 3, Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings released its annual university rankings, naming McGill University as one of its top contenders with a global ranking of 31. Thirty-two different McGill subjects placed within the top 50 university rankings by subject, with three departments—Mineral & Mining, Library & Information Management, and Anatomy & Cell Biology—ranked among the global top 10.
The QS global ranking system is reputed to be among the most comprehensive ranking systems in the world for higher education. The system examines six key metrics to determine their rankings: Academic reputation, employer reputation, the faculty-to-student ratio, citations per faculty, international faculty ratio, and international student ratio.
Kimiz Dalkir, director, and Joan Bartlett, graduate program director, both at the School of Information Studies, attributed the school’s success to the student body and their contributions to research.
“We owe our international reputation firstly to our students, who remain connected to us and act as the best ambassadors, and also to our researchers, who continue to have a great impact nationally and internationally,” Dalkir and Bartlett wrote in an email to The McGill Tribune. “We remain focussed on the heart of our program, to connect people to information. [This] has been the guiding principle since the School was established in 1927.”
Frédérique Mazerolle, a media relations officer at McGill, said the university was pleased by its performance this year.
“To be recognized is a source of pride for the McGill community,” Mazerolle said. “It is a demonstration of our collective commitment to maintaining McGill’s high standards and ensuring that we remain one of the world’s leading universities.”
Reflecting on the history of innovative research conducted at the university, Mazerolle discussed some of McGill’s most notable discoveries.
“Our institution is recognized globally for the excellence of its teaching and research programs,” Mazerolle said. “Ernest Rutherford’s Nobel Prize-winning research on the nature of radioactivity was conducted at McGill, part of a long tradition of innovation on our campuses that includes the invention of the artificial blood cell and Plexiglass.”
Mazerolle highlighted the university’s involvement in the field of epigenetics and expressed enthusiasm over recent research developments.
“Today, our professors are building the new field of epigenetics, developing alternative energy sources from crop plants and driving human achievement in every field imaginable,” Mazerolle said.
Brooklyn Frizzle, U3 Science and the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Vice-President of University Affairs, was less optimistic about McGill’s ranking. Frizzle believes that while university rankings affect the decisions of prospective students, they have an insignificant impact on the lives and academic careers of current students.
“Frankly, the university is far too concerned with courting prospective students and donors with high world rankings, and current McGill students suffer for it,” Frizzle said. “It is an open secret that when applying for tenure, instructors with high-profile research experience, the kind that boosts ranking statistics, are prioritized over instructors who chose to dedicate their time to teaching or campus community involvement.”
Frizzle questioned the extent to which the university prioritizes rankings over the quality of education and student life on campus.
“If you look through the principal’s remarks presented monthly to the Senate, you will find far more mentions of university rankings and illustrious award winners than community initiatives or campus heroes,” Frizzle said. “That is not to say that the university does not have a clear interest in boosting rankings [as] high ranking universities attract more students, donors, and government support, but rankings should not come at the expense of quality teaching and student wellbeing.”