On October 7, Maclean’s released their ranked list of primarily undergraduate Canadian universities for 2022. Notably, Mt. A was demoted to second place, rather than adding another tally to its 22 years in the magazine’s spotlight. The top spot was given instead to the University of Northern British Columbia, which has been one of Mt. A’s primary competitors in recent years’ lists.
“We always value the external review of the university,” said Mt. A’s President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Jean-Paul Boudreau. “[We] always accept… results with humility and a sense of engagement.”
“[The school has] always consistently ranked in the top… of the undergraduate category,” observed Boudreau. “This year’s ranking is a point of pride.”
However, among the Mt A community opinions on the rankings are divided. One first-year psychology major was concerned: “After so many years it makes me wonder what happened this year.” A first-year commerce student said that “it’s always nice to know that I’m going to a highly ranked school.” Others pay little mind to Maclean’s’ opinion, like one second-year aviation student who said that Mt. A’s ranking “doesn’t matter to me.”
One professor criticized the Maclean’s rankings outright. “I think those rankings are pretty arbitrary and overlook a lot of institutional problems,” they said. “They’re just kind of a façade.”
Boudreau posited that university rankings “do factor into considerations” of prospective students’ choice of school, but he does not believe that the changed rankings will have a noticeable impact on enrollment. Boudreau said the school has seen “three consecutive years of increased enrollment…[and] I expect that to continue.”
Indeed, on October 15, Mt. A announced a nearly four percent increase in enrollment for the 2021-22 academic year.
The primarily undergraduate rankings were accompanied this year by six more specific indicators of each school’s performance. The schools’ rankings for student services and student/faculty ratio remained the same, while rankings for faculty awards and total research dollars both dropped noticeably. The school did rise in the ranks of two categories, however. Mt. A’s placement in student awards increased from third to second, while scholarships and bursaries jumped from third to first.
About student awards and bursaries, Dr. Boudreau said that he “can’t recall a year when we’ve had more success.” “We have…nearly 5.6 million dollars made available… for this academic year,” a significant increase from last year’s 4.9 million dollars.
Maclean’s also recently published their list of “Canada’s best universities by student satisfaction,” where Mt. A was ranked eleventh–a significant decrease from last year’s second place.
Over 19,000 students completed a 10-question survey on which this ranking is based. According to the magazine, students were told to “rate their course instructors, student-life staff, administrative staff and academic advising staff.” Also included were questions about residence life, extracurricular activities, mental health services, sexual violence prevention measures, opportunities for experiential learning, and schools’ efforts to make “Indigenous histories, cultures, and languages visible on campus.”
When asked to account for students’ decreased satisfaction, Dr. Boudreau speculated that “equity, diversity, and inclusion” and “sexual violence prevention” were likely crucial points in students’ thought process, but that it was “hard to know precisely because we don’t know the methodology.”
“A big thing last year [was] the… sexual assault issues, and I think that’s an area that can always be worked on,” said one second-year biochemistry student.
Their opinion was shared by a fourth-year commerce student, who said: “I think sexual violence is the biggest area which is why we ranked so low.” On Mt. A’s recent sexual violence protection policies, they said: “I think it could be a little faster and a little more transparent.”
Dr. Boudreau noted that the school is putting a “very important focus on sexual violence prevention and response,” and that they are in the “very early phases of execution on…that action plan.”
When asked if he would like to communicate anything to the students of Mount Allison, Boudreau thanked the student body for choosing Mt. A, and said: “I’m here…[I] always welcome feedback each and every day.”