By Ed Veilleux
Dropping from eleventh to thirteenth place in the annual Maclean’s rankings might be cause for worry for some university presidents, but not Laurentian University President Dominic Giroux. Slipping one year, doesn’t indicate a step back, for Giroux. His eyes are on the long-term growth of Laurentian.
“The methodology (behind the rankings) is not perfect, and year over year results can sometimes have flaws in the dataset,” Giroux said. “But keeping an eye on long-term trends in rankings is valuable… Increasing a university’s national recognition for example is not a sprint, but rather a marathon needed to sustain positive results in the long-term.”
Though Laurentian fell two places overall, their were positives to take away from the annual rankings. There are 13 indicators for how a school is judged. Laurentian improved on three: proportion of budget allocated to scholarships, budget allocated to student services and the proportion of faculty winning national awards.
Laurentian fell in three indicators, according to Giroux, which are “the library holdings per student, the proportion of its budget allocated to library expenses, and the student- faculty ratio — and yet even in that measurement, we still have the lowest student-faculty ratio in Ontario.”
In the other seven indicators, Laurentian held its place.
Although potential students do not consider the ranking when applying to schools, they still have their purpose, Giroux added.
“Research shows that rankings are not a significant factor for applicants when they choose their university, but they are nonetheless important especially in the eyes of community members and alumni. This is why one of the seven aspirations in our 2012-2017 Strategic Plan is to be in the ‘top 10’ of Canadian universities in our category.”
SGA President Andy Rollins believes that students should go to the university that best suits them, regardless of Maclean’s rankings.
“I think that students like to look at the rankings, but I am hoping that they use them more as a guide rather than a deciding factor,” he said. “Every school has their own strengths and weaknesses that appeal to different students. Students should go to the university that best meets their needs rather than go by what these rankings say is the best post-secondary institution.”
Rollins doesn’t feel the Maclean’s rankings are “a good indicator of how a university is actually doing, whether it is good or bad.”
The rankings aren’t comprehensive enough to assure Rollins that Maclean’s paints an accurate picture.
“I think there are millions of different types of criteria that make a university amazing, or terrible,” he added. “It is widely known that these rankings don’t take into account every factor that contributes to a high quality of student life. Unless they will go over all contributing factors I can’t say the rankings are realistic.”
Laurentian is on the rise, according to Rollins, whether or not Macelan’s is picking up on it.
“Over the past couple years this school has been in a constant state of growth. Things are better than they ever have been for students, especially our students at the SGA, and I do not think that the rankings reflect these vast improvements.”
In terms of the usefulness of the rankings, Giroux added: “We are not entirely driven by ratings, but we use some information that they provide, in our efforts to continually improve.”
Since 2005, Laurentian has risen from nineteenth overall to thirteenth, in the annual rankings.