U of S ‘hold­ing our own’ de­spite last-place fin­ish in Maclean’s list

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - CITY + REGION - ALEX MACPHER­SON amacpher­son@post­media.com Twit­ter.com/macpher­sona

The Univer­sity of Saskatchewan’s sec­ond con­sec­u­tive last-place fin­ish in a pop­u­lar Cana­dian magazine’s an­nual univer­sity rank­ings will have “no ef­fect what­so­ever” on its abil­ity to at­tract and re­tain stu­dents and fac­ulty, says its re­cently ap­pointed provost.

Ma­cleans magazine placed the U of S last among the coun­try’s 15 med­i­cal-doc­toral schools, a group that in­cludes some of Canada’s largest and most pres­ti­gious uni­ver­si­ties, in its 2018 rank­ings. Last year, it tied for last place; a year ear­lier, it fin­ished 13th out of 15.

“We’re hold­ing our own here, but I think we would hold our own across the coun­try,” said Tony Vanelli, an elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer who was ap­pointed Aug. 1 to a five-year term as head of aca­demic af­fairs.

Point­ing to a 2.1 per cent yearover-year en­rol­ment in­crease — the univer­sity in Septem­ber re­ported hav­ing 20,670 un­der­grad­u­ate and grad­u­ate stu­dents — Vanelli said there’s lit­tle in the rank­ings to sug­gest the U of S will suf­fer as a re­sult. “I think we’re not de­fined by sur­veys,” Vanelli said. “I think sur­veys (con­tain) im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion but I would treat this the same way even if we had great re­sults.”

The magazine ranked the U of S first for its op­er­at­ing bud­get — which has been cut re­cently — and scored well in its stu­dent-fac­ulty ra­tio, but that was not enough to el­e­vate it above last place. The Saska­toon univer­sity fin­ished last or sec­ond to last in seven of the 12 cat­e­gories used to de­ter­mine each in­sti­tu­tion’s po­si­tion on the list, and failed to make it into the top 10 in two other cat­e­gories.

Vanelli said while any rank­ing of uni­ver­si­ties is un­likely to stop the U of S from pur­su­ing its goals, the in­sti­tu­tion does re­act to some cat­e­gories and im­prove its per­for­mance in stu­dent awards and stu­dent ser­vices.

The magazine’s 2018 rank­ing of med­i­cal-doc­toral schools was topped by Mon­treal’s McGill; the Univer­sity of Toronto and the Univer­sity of Bri­tish Columbia rounded out the top three.

The Univer­sity of Regina fin­ished 13th out of the coun­try’s 15 “com­pre­hen­sive” uni­ver­si­ties — a group that in­cludes schools with some grad­u­ate-level re­search and a range of un­der­grad­u­ate, grad­u­ate and pro­fes­sional pro­grams.

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