Despite a rough year last year, UNB maintained its fourth place overall position in its category for the 2015 Maclean’s University Rankings for a third year in a row.
“I am pleased. Of course, it would have been nice to move up the rankings as well. But I have to say, given the challenges we find ourselves confronting — a tough financial environment and the declining population of young people in Atlantic Canada — to stay in the top of the national rankings is really an achievement,” said UNB president, Eddy Campbell.
The fourth-place ranking was given to UNB in the comprehensive category, a 15-university grouping for institutions that “have a significant degree of research activity and a wide range of programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels, including professional degrees.”
Both the Fredericton and Saint John campuses were ranked together.
Maclean’s national reputational rankings, rankings that take 49 Canadian universities and classify them based on surveys of professionals such as high school guidance counsellors, university recruiters and university officials, tell a different story. UNB placed 34 in the Best Overall category, dropping from 23.
However, Campbell said the rankings should be taken with a grain of salt.
“I wouldn’t say anyone should take the Maclean’s rankings as gospel, but there is no denying that students and parents pay attention to it. From that perspective, it’s important,” Campbell said.
There’s more to choosing a university than just the rankings though, and Campbell is quick to point this out.
“I tell parents and students to make decisions on what feels right for them. No one should just pick their university based solely on the rankings. Visit the university, talk to current students, alumni, professors – do your own evaluation,” he said.
UNBSU president Greg Bailey agrees. In the student support ranking section, UNB maintained its 15th out of 15 place for scholarships and bursaries and dropped to 11th place from the 8th position it held for student services last year.
Bailey said it’s more important to consider the students than the funding.
“I’d be more concerned with the actual results students are getting from those services than whether or not we’ve got the highest or lowest percentage of our budget devoted to them, especially in a chronically underfunded province like NB,” he said.
Campbell also said that the low student support rankings do not reflect the progress made over the past year.
“On the Student Services front, we’ve invested significantly more money — nearly an additional $200,000 — into our counselling services at UNB Fredericton this year … With everything we do, there’s always room for improvement. But we’re seeing progress,” he said.
As far as the Maclean’s rankings go, it’s this progress that keeps UNB a contender in its own right.
“For one of the smaller universities in the country, we’re punching well above our weight. We have had our challenges this past year for sure, but we have a lot of reasons to be proud of our community,” said Campbell.