Maclean’s tells same old story

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By Chieu Luu Luong

It was a close game for Ryerson to maintain its near last-place position, but the school held its head up high and didn’t budge from its spot in Maclean’s annual university rankings.

For the third year in a row, Ryerson scored 19th place in the ranking of primarily undergraduate universities.

But despite the school’s poor standings — Rye High ranked only ahead of Cape Breton and Nipissing — president Claude Lajeunesse is optimistic the team will pull through because of their high score in the reputation category.

“I see Ryerson number one in terms of the leaders of tomorrow.  I see it number two as best overall” in the primarily undergraduate category, said Lajeunesse.

“And much more important than this, if I look across the country, out of all the universities we are number 14 in quality.”

As a polytechnic university, Ryerson offers more applied programs taught by people in the field than at other schools.  The university placed last in the categories of number of faculty with PhDs, size of third of third and fourth-year classes and library holdings per student.

But Lajeunesse said he doesn’t care about those numbers, and doesn’t even look at the university’s number 19 ranking.

“To me, what’s important is whether or not our students, when they graduate are seen as competent, whether they get jobs when they graduate, are seen as competent, whether they get jobs when they graduate, and whether their employers are satisfied,” he said.  “There we are number two.  To me the rest is totally meaningless.”

Lajeunesse said he has talked to Maclean’s about changing the survey criteria, even before he came to Ryerson four years ago.  “All the criteria meant nothing in terms of what the natural competence of the students at graduation was,” he said.

But Ann Dowsett Johnston, Maclean’s assistant managing editor and head coach of the university rankings project, said the magazine does not have any plans to change its criteria.

“Every university has a criticism of the indicator that they don’t do well in,” said Johnston.

The survey has 21 indicators ranging from faculty to finances.  “When we put this survey together in 1992, we were incredibly thorough and we took a lot of advice from various institutions,” Johnston said.  “It would be incredibly frivolous to go back and edit now.”

Johnston said changes may be made as libraries concentrate more on Internet access and schools begin to develop co-op programs.

Ryerson should be proud it didn’t drop from number 19, Johnston said, because schools after number eight dropped a spot with the addition of the new University of Northern British Columbia.

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