November 2005      
Maclean's Rankings 2005

The Maclean’s University Rankings ’05 hit the newsstands on November 7th. Bishop’s University ranked a respectable 5th out of 21 universities in the “Primarily Undergraduate Ranking,” down one place from last year when we placed 4th.

Some scores worth noting. Of the 22 categories used to determine the ranking, Bishop’s ranked 1st in the following categories:
  • Percentage of out of province students in our first year class
  • Student Services budget as a percentage of our operating budget
Bishop’s ranked 2nd in the following categories:
  • Proportion of entering students with averages of 75% or higher
  • Library expenses per student
And finally, Bishop’s ranked 3rd in the following categories:
  • Class sizes (1st and 2nd year)
  • Class sizes (3rd and 4th year)
In some areas Bishop’s is improving but the improvement may not be reflected by movement in the rankings. For instance, we are pleased to see in the category of Student Retention (from 1st to 2nd year) we have improved from 82.2% in 2003 to 87.7% in 2005. In the Social Sciences and Humanities research grant category the average grant (per eligible faculty member) has gone from $407 (2003) to $1,323 this year. In the Medical/Science Grant research category our average grant has gone from $3,768 (2003) to $5,131.

At the same time, we dropped in some areas. In the category of First Year Classes Taught by Tenured (or Tenured Track) Faculty we fell to 42.40% from 47.90% last year. Our Operating Budget per Student has fallen from $9,511 (2003) to $9,210 this year – largely due to the chronic underfunding of Quebec universities. Alumni Support (% of alumni who have made a gift over a five-year period) has dropped from 22.7% (2003) to 20.1% this year.

The most humbling category continues to be Reputation. This year Bishop’s ranked 16th (out of 21), compared to 10th in 2003. Last spring’s survey (conducted by the Alumni & Development Office) clearly showed alumni believe the area most in need of improvement at Bishop’s is reputation and visibility. Maclean’s proved them right! Bishop’s, like many universities, takes issue with this category, its extremely high value in the survey (worth 16% of overall), and how the “data” is collected. Nonetheless we need to look at ways to sharpen our profile and better tell the Bishop’s story.

The Maclean’s University Rankings certainly fuels the dialogue about universities and ways in which to measure quality. It is important to remember this is not the definitive guide as to which university is best; Canada is blessed with fine universities from coast to coast. The Maclean’s University Rankings can and are used as a research tool for prospective students and their parents as they investigate post-secondary options, and perhaps by universities to compare against one another using quantitative data. In truth these rankings do not indicate a first (or fifth) best university; the university experience is a personal one and is different for each student or faculty member. Let’s keep that in mind, and use the findings to improve the Bishop’s Experience for our students – not for Maclean’s.

Robert Poupart

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