October is university "rankings" season

Dear colleagues,

Universities are rated and ranked by several organizations using a variety of methods. Some reports are international, while others like The Globe and Mail’s “Canadian University Report” and Maclean’s “University Rankings” are Canadian in scope. Some data is comparative, either comparing universities of similar size or within a region, while other data, like that collected in the National Survey of Student Engagement, is more customized so that the university can use it as an improvement tool. It turns out that both The Globe and Mail’s and Maclean’s data are issued in October.

The “2016 Canadian University Report”, published on October 22, rates UPEI as above average in terms of bursaries and awards, positive change, and library resources. I am so proud to see that UPEI student Alexandra Heighington is prominently featured in one of the stories included in the report about how location plays a part in a prospective student’s decision on what university to attend. Also, in the profile for UPEI, it states, “UPEI announced construction of the School of Sustainable Design Engineering, an interdisciplinary approach to engineering that aims to train students to be globally aware, creative problem solvers. The opening of the new school is one of the first steps in the university’s plan to tailor all programming to prioritize hands-on and applied learning.”

Maclean’s released its annual “2016 University Rankings” to subscribers last evening. I am pleased to report that UPEI has moved two spots from tenth to eighth position among primarily undergraduate universities in Canada. In the 25-year history of Maclean’s rankings, this is the 13th year in a row that UPEI has been in the top ten in the country.

We are proud that we have ranked in the top ten in nine of the fourteen categories that form the overall ranking, including fourth in “student awards” and “total research dollars.” We remain consistently strong in categories like “student/faculty ratio”, ranking seventh, and “operating budget”, ranking sixth.

A significant part of the Maclean’s rankings focuses on reputation. In the national reputational survey, UPEI has moved up two spots, as well as in the “high quality” and “innovation” categories. UPEI has jumped eight spots in the “building leaders of tomorrow” category. Also, for the first time this year, Maclean’s surveyed students directly. We were ranked sixth in “student life staff” and “administrative staff” and fifth in “bureaucracy” (having the least red tape). This reaffirms UPEI's efforts toward the student experience, a key priority in the “UPEI Strategic Plan, 2013-18”.

One category in the student portion of the rankings where UPEI did not fare as well was in “critical thinking.” We feel this will shift positively in the near future as it is a lagging indicator. As identified in our Strategic Plan, with every program initiative, such as Engineering, Mathematics, and in Arts, we are building this key skill development into project-based curricula that is married to theory.

We recognize that connecting what we teach and how we teach it is fundamental to moving UPEI forward. For the most part, the markers found in the “Canadian University Report” and “University Rankings” confirm that UPEI is a vibrant institution that supports the delivery of outstanding experiential learning opportunities.

I would like to thank you, our faculty, staff, and administrators for your commitment to our promise of delivering such quality higher education. You are second to none. We can all be proud of the education system in Canada, as there is really very little that separates the quality of our institutions from coast to coast to coast. Our system is ranked highly around the world, and UPEI plays its role. From discussions with many of our international partners, I have learned that they rate UPEI among the top in terms of quality and student interaction.

We must thank our students for choosing to be a part of our great UPEI community. Whether from PEI, across the country, or around the world, students are our reason for being, and we will continue to promise them a community of scholars and researchers that encourages them to develop to their full potential.

Let’s keep up the good work!

Best wishes,

Alaa

Dr. Alaa S. Abd-El-Aziz
President and Vice-Chancellor
University of Prince Edward Island

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