Universities: Who loves you, baby? - Macleans.ca

Universities: Who loves you, baby?


Consternation in France over the country’s lousy showing in the Times Higher Education world university reputation rankings. This isn’t the overall university rankings, which are constructed with piles of indicators on a bunch of measures. This ranking simply asks people at universities what they think of other universities. Which makes it kind of awesome because it skips objective criteria and goes straight to the stuff that makes people most insecure.

Hence the garment-rending in France, which has only four institutions in the top 100, the highest being Paris-Sorbonne university, way down in 71st place.

What makes it all interesting to Canadians is that the guy who runs the ranking system attempts to comfort French readers by saying that, after all, 4 out of 100 is “better than Canada.”

And indeed it’s so. Only three Canadian universities make the Top 100 buzz list: Toronto at 16, and UBC and McGill tied at 25. Sorry, everyone else.

This is a mixed result. Three universities isn’t that small a number, given Canada’s smallish population, and as one story points out, Canada is the only country that elbowed its way into a Top 20 dominated by the US, UK and Japan.

But in a global market for highly-mobile knowledge workers, universities have a better chance of attracting recruits if they are known, and thought well of. A small number of Canadian universities are doing quite well on that score, the others not so much.

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Universities: Who loves you, baby?

  1. It’s interesting how after the number 7 spot the numbers go straight down.  It seems there aren’t even 10 schools where the entire world says “wow what a grand institution”

  2. University of Guelph would be top three if farmers were asked question about reputation. I met peasant farmers in S Korea, Thai and India who kinda were over-awed when they found out I went to U of G. India guy offered me a job even tho I raised in central toronto, studied History/Politics and don’t know anything about farming. 

    Anglo countries do well because they have private universities that believe in excellence and our culture also has profound belief in education to improve your lot in life. I wonder why German or Northern European universities are not more highly thought of – those countries also encourage education but their universities don’t do very well. 

    Universities in S Korea, Japan, China, India will start to do better because they will be good in science and engineering. Asia not good in humanities/arts but they will kick arse in science and maths. 

  3. Canada does well in that ranking.

    Canada is less than 1% of world population, and less than 3% of the total OECD population, but has 3 schools in the top 100.  And this is true even though few people in the world know much about Canada.

    When you account for population, the only countries that do better than Canada are the US and the UK, both of which tower above the rest.

  4. I wonder how the universities of Leeds, Bristol and Manchester managed to get in there.  Also several of the state universities in the US.

  5. Former U of T Chancellor Birgeneau unexpectedly resigns from University of California Berkeley Chancellor role as Cal. drops in world standings.

    UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau’s recruits born abroad and
    affluent out of state $50,600 tuition students who displace qualified
    Californians; spends $7,000,000 + (prominent
    East Coast university accomplishing same at 0 cost) for OE consultants but
    stops consultants from examining Chancellor office for inefficiencies; pays ex-politician $300,000 for a
    couple lectures; tuition to Return on Investment drops below top 10; QS ranking
    below top ten. On all-in cost Cal. is now the
    most expensive public USA
    university – more expensive than Harvard, Yale. Chancellor Birgeneau’s fiscal
    track record is dismal indeed. 


    Birgeneau would
    like to blame the politicians, since they stopped giving him every dollar asked
    for, & the state legislators do share some responsibility for the financial
    crisis.  But not in the sense he means. Every
    year Birgeneau ($450,000 salary) would request a budget increase, the timid UC Regents
    would agree to it, and the legislature would provide. The hard questions were
    avoided by all concerned, & the Birgeneau leadership inefficiencies just
    piled up to $150 million +.


    It’s not
    that Birgeneau was unaware that there were, in fact, waste during his 8 year
    reign. Faculty & staff raised issues with Birgeneau however, when they
    failed to see relevant action taken, they stopped.  Finally, Birgeneau engaged expensive ($7,000,000
    +) OE consultants to tell him what he should have known as a leader or been
    able to find out from the bright, engaged people. (Prominent east-coast University
    accomplishing same at 0 costs)


    Cal’s senior management is either
    incompetent or culpable. We are sympathetic to the running of higher education with
    declining state money.  However, Cal. has been badly
    damaged by Chancellor Birgeneau. Good people are loosing their jobs. Recommendation: You never want a crisis
    to go to waste. Increasing Cal’s
    budget is not the solution. Honorably retire UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau.
    Email opinions to UC Board of Regents   marsha.kelman@ucop.edu


    (The author has 35 years’ consulting experience, has taught
    at University of California
    Berkeley where he observed the way Cal. senior management work)