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QS 2023 Rankings names McGill top university in Canada

The Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings, published on June 8, listed McGill as the number-one university in Canada and the 31st in the world for the 2022-2023 academic year. In last year’s publication, McGill ranked close behind the University of Toronto (UofT) as the second-best university in Canada. The QS ranking is based on eight factors: Academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty-student ratio, citations per faculty, international faculty ratio, international student ratio, international research network, and employment outcomes.

McGill earned a total of 81.9 out of 100 points—a weighted average of its score in each category. McGill scored approximately 80 points in all categories except for faculty student ratio (68.9) and citations per faculty (59.6).  UofT and the University of British Columbia (UBC) took second and third place. McGill beat out UofT and UBC for the top spot due to their citations per faculty criterion—UofT scored 43.5 and UBC scored 42.1.

In an email to The McGill Tribune, McGill media relations officer Frédérique Mazerolle shared the administration’s pride in the university’s top ranking. She also explained that the university’s global reputation comes from the institute’s commitment to high-quality education.

“Our institution is recognized globally for the excellence of its teaching and research programs,” Mazerolle wrote. “While positive rankings can contribute to a good international profile, McGill’s international reputation is based on much more than that: [A] 200-year-old tradition of excellence in both research and teaching […] and a network of students and alumni who are ultimately our best ambassadors around the globe.”

While students were pleased by McGill’s accomplishment, many were skeptical of the ranking and its evaluation criteria.  In an email to the Tribune, Thibaut Baguette, U2 Engineering, pointed out that the ranking does not consider student well-being. He believes the quality of an institution varies from one person to another depending on student experiences, not just faculty achievements.

“I think [McGill’s ranking] is pretty cool, but apart from bragging rights, it doesn’t mean much,” Baguette wrote. “As with many other things, what’s good for one person isn’t necessarily good for another. What ultimately matters most is transparency and how much the university listens to what their students want.”

For others, including some racialized students, the ranking feels like an affront when compared with the racism they have faced while at McGill. Many students have also voiced frustration toward the administration about their refusal to divest from fossil fuels and their treatment of marginalized students.

Fanta Ly, 4L, has spoken out about her encounters with harassment from faculty and administration, including a call from the administration to her family falsely claiming she had died. Ly expressed that given her experiences, she does not want the ranking to influence other students to attend McGill. 

“[The ranking] means nothing to me and I hope it won’t encourage Black students to attend such a racist institution,” said Ly.

University rankings such as that of QS vary year to year due to changes at individual institutions and in the ranking criteria. In the past three years, McGill’s global QS ranking has fluctuated from 31st to 27th and back to 31st, but it has consistently been in the top 50 schools worldwide for decades. 

In a statement to the Tribune, Emma Gormley, U2 Management, explained that while she believes the ranking system is inherently flawed, she also acknowledges McGill’s rank as a helpful tool for her future goals. 

“Overall, university rankings are really arbitrary and there is a lot of evidence that criticizes their methodology and the privileging of certain faculties or institutions based on subjective reputations,” Gormley wrote. “Despite these flaws, however, rankings are essential for many professions or grad school applications so I cannot ignore McGill’s ranking and reputation.”

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