Local Universities Get Top Marks from Maclean's Survey

Printed in the Waterloo Region Record on November 6, 2009

By Luisa D'Amato, Record staff

WATERLOO — Wilfrid Laurier University and University of Waterloo are the best schools of their size in Ontario, and University of Waterloo has the best overall reputation in Canada, according to the Maclean’s magazine annual ranking of universities.

Wilfrid Laurier moved up a place this year, to fourth in its “primarily undergraduate” category. It was tied with St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia and behind Mount Allison, Acadia, and University of Northern British Columbia.

As for University of Waterloo, it came in third — the same as last year — in the “comprehensive” category, behind Simon Fraser University and University of Victoria, both in B.C. University of Guelph came in fourth in that same category.

Leaders of both Waterloo universities said they were thrilled by the results, especially given the challenge that Ontario universities are not as well funded as those in other provinces.

“We’re really delighted to see our reputation is the top one,” said Feridun Hamdullahpur, vice-president academic for University of Waterloo. “That’s important to us.”

The reputation survey measures what business leaders, academic administrators, high school counsellors and others think of each university. Waterloo has topped this poll for 16 of the past 18 years.

Hamdullahpur said that the university will continue to work on improvements. A major study is underway at UW, looking at how to enhance student support services, including social facilities and academic help.

Wilfrid Laurier University president Max Blouw said he is “quite delighted” with how Wilfrid Laurier did.

“I’m proud of our faculty and students,” he said.

He said he’s especially pleased that Laurier is third in its category for the amount of scientific research grants that faculty are earning. Laurier has been working to increase its profile in scientific research.

University of Guelph president Alastair Summerlee said he is “pleased that we've been able to maintain our level of excellence despite some turbulent economic times,” said president Alastair Summerlee.

“Our continued placement among the nation’s top schools is proof of how hard our university community has worked together to address challenges and preserve the quality of the Guelph educational experience,” he said in a statement.

The Maclean’s rankings measure such things as: awards won by students and faculty; the percentage of international and out-of-province students who attend; the resources in the library; spending on student support; the percentage of students who graduate; the school’s reputation, and other factors.

It’s different from the Globe and Mail survey, which came out a few weeks ago and which measured universities based solely on the opinions of undergraduate students across the country.


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