But you probably shouldn't care
// Michael Bastien

“That movie was a 7/10.” “I’m only 70 per cent done my homework.” “How much fun are we having? 7!” It doesn’t make sense to give some things an arbitrary number. Every year around the world, companies and organizations rank universities to determine which one is best.

Two of these groups are Maclean’s magazine and Times Higher Education (THE), a British magazine. Unfortunately, Capilano University has fallen completely under the radar. Not only was Capilano University not one of the 49 universities ranked by Maclean’s, it also failed to place in the top 400 of THE’s list. Is this due to Capilano failing as a university, or are biased ranking criteria to blame?

At the end of October, Maclean’s magazine released its annual list of the top Canadian universities. Maclean’s takes into consideration a school’s quality of students, faculty, libraries, and finances. Canadian universities are ranked into three groups: primary undergraduate, comprehensive, and medical doctoral. This year, Mount Allison University topped the chart for undergraduate schools. Simon Fraser ranked #1 this year in the comprehensive category, and McGill took the top spot for medical doctoral.

Every March, Maclean’s also releases its Guide to Canadian Universities to help inform students trying to pick the right university. THE also released its own list. There were only five Canadian universities in the top 100, the highest being the University of Toronto at 19 and the University of British Columbia at 22. These two universities ranked 2 and 3 respectively on Maclean’s medical doctoral list, with McGill at 28.

Some universities have issues with the methodology used by Maclean’s to make its rankings. In 2006, 22 universities refused to give information directly to the magazine in protest, believing that the relationship between universities should be friendly, not competitive. The criteria used to rank universities have been scrutinized, because it’s hard to tell what’s objective, subjective, pertinent, or irrelevant. Another issue is that each country, province, and university has different grading criteria so comparing the marks of every student on earth makes no sense.

One of the reasons these magazine issues are made is because they sell really well. Maclean’s Guide to Canadian Universities has a higher cover price than most magazines, as well as an extended shelf life.

The likely reason why Capilano University didn’t rank on any list is because most lists focus on research-based schools over art-focused and teaching-focused ones. Emily Carr University, one of the most prestigious art schools in Canada, also didn’t place on Maclean’s or THE’s list.

Kris Bulcroft, the president of Capilano University, shouldn’t be too concerned about Capilano not placing on any lists. If the school was to change in order to appeal to these critics, tuition fees would increase, and other classes would have to be sacrificed. The slight increase in students that the publicity would bring would not be worth sacrificing the school’s identity. Most people only care about the top ten, and Capilano could never realistically be able to compete against Ivy League schools.

Ranking universities can be fun; a way of seeing whose school is better outside the realm of sports. Yet with all things considered, it is a pointless effort. Institutions have different strengths, and aggregated rankings diminish those differences. When selecting a school, do you go to the school with the higher rating, or the school that suits your individual learning style? The Capilano Courier’s list of top universities ranks Capilano University five penguins out of yellow.

//Michael Bastien, Writer
//Illustration by Katie So

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