2014 Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) for Canada provide sophisticated analysis of university progress


With a sophisticated approach to formulating, quantifying, and analyzing the performance of universities on a global scale, the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) charts the redressing of hierarchies and the leveling of academic imbalance in international university-sector education. Many of the emerging alternatives to the dominant university tables (such as THE Rankings, ARWU SHJT Rankings, US News, and QS World) have found that despite the inherent methodological bias towards English-speaking institutions, those same institutions are gradually finding themselves dropping in stature when compared to their East Asian counterparts. This fate seems to have befallen Canada in this year’s CWUR Rankings.

CWUR Rankings bases its methodology on intricate calculations related to each of the variously weighted performance indicators. These include calculating the number of university alumni and faculty to have been awarded prizes or awards and the number of students who have gone on to become CEOs of global companies, and all of this quantified in relation to the university’s size. As such, the CWUR Rankings replaces the hearsay reputational weighting of the big four with a more objective assessment of reputation, albeit with the emphasis still on impression and prestige.

While some rankings rely solely on research papers published, the opinion of fellow institutions, and, in the case of the innovative Webometrics approach, the online visibility of the institution, CWUR Rankings prefers to gauge the impact of recognized markers of academic excellence through verifiable means. By shunning laborious surveys, the research team in Saudi Arabia take the power to hierarchize away from the university sector altogether. Quality of faculty and proactivity of students are the real indicators of greatness for this ranking which seems have found a robust methodology that, to a certain extent, guards itself again industry manipulation. But for one traditional national educational powerhouse, the results aren’t as positive as some might have hoped. CWUR’s Canada ranking for this new academic year, with global positioning stated in brackets, is:  

1 (31) University of Toronto

2 (42) McGill University

3 (61) University of British Colombia

4 (103) University of Alberta

5 (134) Université de Montréal

6 (141) McMaster University

7 (152) University of Western Ontario

8 (166) University of Calgary

9 (212) University of Ottawa

10 (220) University of Manitoba

The outlook is mixed for Canadian universities competing to bolster their global reputation. This year the University of Toronto was ranked 2 places higher in the CWUR Rankings than the previous year, and McGill rose 5 places from 2013. But with the University of Alberta dropping 6 places to 103rd place this year’s total number of Canadian institutions in the top 100 dropped to 3 in 2014 from 4 the previous year. When compared to the more established university ranking authorities such as the broadly favored QS Rankings and the often-derided US News, Canada’s performance in the CWUR metrics has fallen short of their expected targets. With 5 universities in the QS Top 100, the CWUR results have been a mixed blessing for the North American nation. On average Canadian universities rank at least 10-20 places lower in the CWUR Rankings when compared to the QS Ranking, a result that will no doubt leave university governors in Canada questioning if their academic visibility and international outreach is having its intended effect.