“If you can walk and talk faster, you can go to McMaster.”

On one hand, there’s a level of juvenile appeal in comparing and bragging about the superiority of one’s own school over another. But McMaster students can still take pride in their school after the most recent updates to world university rankings reaffirms McMaster’s strong position in the global community.

With the release of the annual reports for the three most influential world university rankings, McMaster continues to demonstrate a consistency in both its ranking and its relation to Canadian contemporaries in post-secondary education.

Gord Arbeau, Director of Public and Community Relations, says that it indicates the prestigious standard McMaster is held to.

“If you look at [recent] rankings, if you look at them all together, the university has done quite well,” Arbeau said. “It’s a reflection of the university’s ability to attract and retain, really, some of the best faculty members in the country, and to attract the very highest quality students.”

In an early October update to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Canadian universities actually suffered in position, with the exception of the University of Toronto, which remained at its position of 20. While McMaster dipped from 92nd to 94th overall, the school remains as one of only four Canadian universities in the top 100 in the world, behind the University of Toronto, as well as the University of British Columbia and McGill University.

Meanwhile, earlier in September, the QS World University Rankings saw McMaster make a large leap to 113th, from 140th last year. Along with similar trends among other Canadian universities, QS noted the best indicator for improvement was academic reputation. McMaster also rose in standing in the latest update to the Shanghai Jiao Tong Academic Ranking of World Universities, moving from 92nd to 90th late this summer.

“I think with rankings, the important thing to remember is that they really are a snapshot in time, that each of the rankings use different methodologies and measure different things,” Arbeau said.

“When you look at [recent rankings] individually, you might see the university might move up a spot or down a spot, but when you look at them collectively […] you’ll see that McMaster remains one of four Canadian universities firmly entrenched in the top 100 in the world. There are some 15,000, 16,000 universities around the world, and McMaster remains in the top 100.”

Each of the three major ranking systems uses its own unique criteria when judging the placement of universities. For example, the THE looks at 13 performance indicators grouped into five areas, with an emphasis on teaching and research. The QS rankings uses the student to faculty ratio as a simple measure of teaching quality, with an added attempt to evaluate more subjective criteria through their focus on a survey of reputation.

In contrast to the THE and QS rankings, the ARWU system attempts to focus on more objective criteria, with a heavy emphasis on research. Criteria such as faculty that have won Nobel Prizes or other major awards, and the number of citations in prestigious journals are all weighed heavily.

Among the three rankings, McMaster specifically performs well in the evaluation of its science programs; this includes a global rank of 25 in THE’s assessment of Clinical, Pre-clinical & Health programs.

In comments captured by a recent news release, Patrick Deane responded to the recent updates on world university rankings.

“When this ranking is considered with the others released over the past few weeks, it is clear McMaster is providing high quality teaching and learning, conducting groundbreaking research and attracting and retaining the best faculty and staff.”

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