Earlier today, Maclean’s Magazine issued its 30th annual Canadian university rankings and, for the 16th straight year, McGill was named the country’s top medical-doctoral university. The Medical Doctoral category includes 15 universities with a broad range of PhD programs and research, as well as medical schools.
“To be recognized by Maclean’s in this fashion once again, is a source of pride for our entire McGill community,” says Principal Suzanne Fortier. “From our wonderful students and top-flight researchers, to our dedicated staff and proud alumni, each one of us is committed to maintaining McGill’s high standards and ensuring that we remain one of the world’s leading universities.
“Rankings are not an exact science, but to enjoy this level of sustained success in the Maclean’s rankings is a testament to the tireless efforts of many people to uphold and promote the values of our University.”
In maintaining its position atop the Maclean’s rankings, McGill was applauded for, among other things, its sustainability efforts, campus diversity, student wellness initiatives, and its rigorous research regimen.
A research juggernaut
“McGill has made a name for itself as a juggernaut on the research circuit; it has a well-earned international reputation for its faculty’s and students’ trailblazing discoveries,” writes Maclean’s Katie Underwood.
Maclean’s highlights some of the University’s COVID-19 research efforts. These include professor Stephen Yue and Dr. Chen Liang’s efforts to produce a cost-effective antiviral coating that could significantly reduce the rate of SARS-CoV-2 transmission on high-touch metallic surfaces; and the McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity (M14) which has mobilized more than 250 to combat COVID-19.
McGill also gets high praise from Maclean’s for its diversity, noting that international students make up some 30 per cent of the student body.
“This emphasis on ‘the best of all worlds’ also affects its academic programs,” writes Underwood, citing the recent establishment of the Indigenous Studies and Community Engagement Initiative “as eastern Canada’s de facto centre for Indigenous education.”
Making wellness a priority
“Wellness has many meanings at McGill, and environmental wellness is a distinct priority,” says Underwood, while highlighting the venerable Sustainability Projects Fund and the University’s “aggressive carbon-neutrality mandate.”
“Student wellness is also of paramount importance,” she notes. “In 2019, $14 million was allocated to the brand-new Student Wellness Hub, a ‘one-stop shop’ for mental and physical health resources, counselling and, crucially during the COVID pandemic, peer support.”
The numbers behind the success
In compiling its rankings, Maclean’s rates universities on performance indicators in five broad categories: students, faculty, resources, student support and reputation.
A breakdown of this year’s numbers shows that McGill is ranked in the top three in eight of the ranking’s 13 performance indicators.
For the eleventh-straight year, McGill ranked first in scholarships and bursaries, an indicator that looks at the percentage of a university’s total operating expenditures devoted to student scholarships and bursaries.
“We are proud that so many outstanding students choose McGill to pursue their education, and our priority is to support them in that pursuit,” says Principal Fortier. “This recognition underscores our commitment to ensuring accessibility to education for all talented students, regardless of their financial means.”
McGill also ranked No.1 in library acquisitions for the sixth year in a row. This indicator measures the proportion of the library budget allocated to updating the university’s collection, including electronic access.
Finally, the University topped the field in the social sciences and humanities grants for a ninth consecutive year, as well as for student awards (fourth straight year), which calculates the number of students, per 1,000, who have won national awards over the past five years.
The Maclean’s rankings build on the upward momentum McGill has enjoyed in recent rankings. In August, the University jumped 12 spots in the Academic Ranking of World Universities. In June, the University moved up the lists in both the QS World University Rankings and the Center for World University Rankings. Most recently, QS rated the Desautels Faculty of Management among the world’s top business schools.