Ryerson latest to drop out of Maclean’s mag

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By Karon Liu

Ryerson is the latest of 23 schools to boycott Maclean’s annual university rankings guide by not providing information to the magazine.

President Sheldon Levy sent an e-mail to all students last Thursday saying the adminstration finds Maclean’s is “reducing quality to a numbers game with too little academic or statistical validity.”

“We wanted them to focus more on the quality of information for students rather than selling magazines,” Levy said.

Ryerson joins other schools such as the University of Toronto, York University, Queen’s University and McMaster University. Participating institutions send Maclean’s information on enrollment, class sizes and entry averages.

Last year, Ryerson placed 18th under the Primarily Undergraduate University category.

“It’s a very hard decision because it’s been a long standing issue. We supported Maclean’s to make changes in their ranking system but when their changes weren’t enough we decided it was best to pull out,” Levy said.

“Their biggest problem is that they look at all the universities and create a single ‘league table’ ranking system even though they’re all so different.”

Robert Rosehart, president of Wilfrid Laurier University, decided to stay with Maclean’s, saying he wants the information about his university to be published so that he can be held publically accountable.

But he understands the frustrations that the other universities are going through.

“Ryerson’s a typical example (of this) because in the reputation department it ranks high but it ranks low on the numerical side. The same goes for Wildrid Laurier.”

“We just never got so excited about it,” he adds.

Maclean’s currently ranks the universities with information from three surveys sent to students: the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), the Canadian Undergraduate Survey Consortium (CUSC) and the Maclean’s University Graduate Survey, the first two being commissioned by the universities themselves.

Linda Grayson, vice president administration and student affairs and Adam Kahan, vice president university advancement say the university is looking at the broader future, refusing to elaborate.

The first 11 universities to pull out did so on Aug. 14. The list also included the University of Alberta, University of British Colombia, University of Ottawa and Simon Fraser University.

Tony Keller, managing editor of special projects at Maclean’s, said the schools had “concerns about Maclean’s misuse of data in its rankings.” Keller is disappointed by Ryerson’s withdrawal and said in the end, it’s students that suffer.

“It’s really unfortunate that these universities aren’t giving students the basic information. students use (Maclean’s) as one of many tools,” Keller said.

But first-year social work student Abby Davis agrees with Ryerson.

“(Maclean’s) basically means nothing to me. A university is more than statistics. People gave me copies of the issue but I never really read it.”

U of T president David Naylor said universities are taking a stance against Maclean’s running a monopoly on rankings even though U of T often tops the list.

“The whole notion of ‘we’re the best over…’ is nuts. Ryerson has the best journalism program and Waterloo has the best engineering program. Saskatchwan is actually a leader in agricultural biotech. So many universities have unique strengths so it’s hard to make them first, second and third.”

Maclean’s will use public information to compile the next issue. The magazine is also hoping provincial access to information laws or a school’s own disclosure rules will help replace the missing data.

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