McGill tops Maclean’s rankings for 13th straight year

Posted on Thursday, October 12, 2017

James McGill would be proud: For the 13th straight year, Maclean’s magazine has rated McGill as the top medical-doctoral university in the country. / Photo: Neale McDevitt

By McGill Reporter Staff

For the 13th year in a row, Maclean’s magazine has ranked McGill as the top university in Canada among institutions in the medical-doctoral category.

Citing McGill’s long history of cutting-edge research, the magazine noted that that tradition continues today in, among other fields, green chemistry, food science, computer science, artificial intelligence, HIV and neuroscience. Also highlighted were the University’s strength in supporting graduate students; its internationally diverse student body; and its prime location in Montreal, ranked as the world’s best city for students by Quacquarelli Symonds earlier this year.

McGill maintained the top spot despite having a per-student operating budget in the bottom 25 per cent of the 49 universities included in the Maclean’s rankings.

Criteria in which McGill did particularly well include devoting a high percentage of its operating expenditures to scholarships and bursaries and having the highest percentage of students who have won national awards among the universities in the rankings. The University’s professors also distinguished themselves in their accomplishments in winning national awards.

As in recent years, the McGill Library system was lauded for its stellar performance. McGill was first in the nation in library acquisitions, which measures the proportion of the library budget that is allocated to updating the university’s collection.

“We are delighted to see McGill recognized once again as Canada’s leading university according to the Maclean’s yardstick. All members of our McGill community can take pride in this accomplishment,” Principal Suzanne Fortier said. “I salute our alumni for the solid foundation of excellence they have built in our great university and congratulate all the students, professors and staff for their commitment to the values of McGill.”

Read the full Maclean’s report

 

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9 Responses to McGill tops Maclean’s rankings for 13th straight year

  1. McGill is indeed a fine university, and I’m proud to be an alumnus (B.Sc. ’65 and M.Sc. ’67). With great respect, however, ranking exercises such as those used by MacLean’s are totally simplistic/meaningless in comparing the quality of institutions as complex as universities; one can’t make such comparisons using simple metrics. Universities are supposed to foster critical thinking, and University ranking systems undermine that goal. I was a professor at U. Alberta for many years. Every time we rose a notch or two in the rankings, senior administration bragged about how their current policies “are working”…. Every time we fell a notch or two, they maligned the methodology and metrics that MacLean’s uses. What are we teaching our students when we behave in this childish way? Over the years, some universities have stopped submitting the data required by MacLean’s. McGill should do the same. MacLean’s should stick to what they do well: publishing a reputable national magazine. We in the university community should stop providing them with data that are meaningless to the intended evaluation.

    Reuben Kaufman,
    Professor emeritus,
    U. Alberta
    rkaufman@ualberta.ca

  2. John Kellett says:

    Unfortunately, Dr. Kaufman, most professions have such rankings and they are useful in providing a competitive stimulus. I am a McGill alumnus ( I just returned from Homecoming ) and I have donated to both McGill and the University of Alberta. I also sent my very expensive and rare collection of books on the Austro-Hungarian Empire to the Wirth Collection at the University of Alberta. Both are fine universities but McGill has a global reputation that attracted me- with no Canadian background -to this great country. Eliminating benchmarks might appeal to the mediocre but they are not meaningless.

  3. Marko Pavliha says:

    Congratulations to McGill, I also chose this excellent Canadian university because of its global reputation and the legendary Professor of Maritime Law, unfortunately late William Tetley, Q.C. I always recommend it to my students in Slovenia, Malta and elsewhere.

    Bravo again!!!

    Bon chance,

    Professor Marko Pavliha, D.C.L. ‘92
    University of Ljubljana (Slovenia)
    IMO IMLI (Malta)

  4. Thanks for your input here, John.

    I know the argument: “we have to do it because everyone else does”; but what annoys me is the example I gave above: When we rise a notch or two it “means” that our policies are working, but if we fall, the ranking system is faulty…. that is pernicious. Allow me one other example; it’s not about a university but it really underlines how meaningless such ranking systems are.

    Some years ago the ranking farce was extended to invent league tables for secondary schools. I was in England at the time where The Guardian reported on a Jewish school in London … they were at the top of their league table. Then one year the girls in the senior class decided not to answer the questions on Shakespeare, imagining that The Merchant of Venice was particularly anti-semitic. The head master of the school praised them for their act. You know what happened?? … That year the school fell dozens (if not hundreds) of places in the table; that’s not an exaggeration. What does it tell you when one class, not answering one section on one exam sends the school tumbling like that?

    I’d be interested to hear your take on this, John or anyone else.

  5. Dave Scott says:

    I have a couple of McGill degress BSc 68 and MD ’72 and overall I tend to agree with Reuben.
    While I agree that McGill’s international reputation is remarkable, I think there is a danger that if any value is placed on such results (with such dubious methodologies) that schools will naturally to some degree ” teach to the test”
    Also The high rating with low funding per student (rather than being celebrated as here)
    -COULD be construed as an indication of faulty results ie. Reputation persisting long beyond current reality.

  6. Tom says:

    Dave-People outside Quebec have been saying that McGill is living off its reputation for over 40 years. If that were true then perhaps in 1970 McGill really was the “Harvard of Canada”.

  7. Bill Wedgwood says:

    Two days ago I was looking at the AARP daily e-mail, and there was a headline – Professor working at 99. Curious, I opened it, and what a shock! It was Brenda Milner, one of my psychology professors in the ’60s and early 70s (Class of ’71.) Amazing that she still climbs up University St. to work at the Montreal Neurological Institute. She says going down is harder! Still doing research. She looks well for 99. She was a great professor. God bless her!!

  8. Larry Herman says:

    I have a B.Sc.68 from McGill but also hold dental and medical degrees from Ivy League Universities in the states. I will assure all that McGill does indeed maintain a most excellent reputation in the Boston area. This reputation is achieved in many ways, not the least of which is annual designation by reputable publications. Most parents are influenced in such ways as are the high school students themselves. I say “keep up the good work McGill” and continue to attract top quality students. No matter what the publication or its criteria for evaluation, we as alumni know the truth. McGill and Montreal should rank top on a list of possibilities for the best students looking to be educated.
    Larry Herman class of 68

  9. Paul Hwang MDCM 1974 says:

    Having studied 4 years at McGill Medical School and another 4 years at the Montreal Neurological Institute in Neurology & EEG, I have held faculty positions at the University of Colorado in Denver, at the Hospital for Sick Children and the University of Toronto Institute of Medical Science and School of Graduate Studies, Faculty of Medicine.
    I am proud to be an alumnus of McGill and the MNI in Neurology!
    As Canada celebrates its 150th birthday, having been in Canada over 50 years, married in Montreal, fathered 5 daughters and grandfathered 6 grandchildren, I share the nation-wide joy and sense of belonging:
    “We need more Canada, we need more McGill!”.
    I look forward to McGill’s 200th anniversary in 1923 in Montreal!

    Paul ALS Hwang MDCM 74, MSc FRCPC (80), ABCN (86).

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