Queen's University

Vice-Provost discusses international rankings

 
2013-09-19

Senior Communications Officer Craig Leroux met recently with Jim Lee, Vice-Provost (International) to talk about international university rankings.

Craig Leroux: Do international rankings matter?

Jim Lee: We know rankings are one of several pieces of information that international students use when selecting a university abroad, particularly when they don’t have a chance to visit our campus in person. So it is natural to expect that our position globally and relative to our Canadian peers can have some influence.

But having said that, rankings are only one piece of the puzzle. International students consider a number of aspects when choosing a university, and we know that many other factors, such as the quality of the student experience and the level of safety on campus and in the community are also very important.

CL: Last week’s release of the QS World University Rankings saw Queen’s drop to 189th position from 175th in 2012. Is Queen’s slipping internationally?

JL: While it is true that we dropped slightly in this year’s QS ranking, there have been longstanding valid criticisms of all of the global rankings. Every ranking uses a different methodology, which is why we do well in some and less well in others. Some (like the QS ranking) use very subjective data, such as reputational surveys, all are very biased towards research output, and none account for the student experience. Thus, for an institution like Queen's, which prides itself on both high-quality teaching and research, it is evident that no existing ranking is well-suited to reflect our strengths.

It's important to note that Queen’s receives consistently high praise for the student experience it delivers. It has done very well on surveys that measure this, such as the International Student Barometer (ISB). In fact, in the most recent ISB survey, the undergraduate student experience at Queen’s was ranked #1 in Canada and 34th in the world by international undergraduate students.

Finally, it’s important to put international rankings into a larger context and remember that Queen’s consistently ranks among the top one to two per cent of the world’s universities.

CL: What is Queen’s doing to raise its profile internationally?

JL: Queen’s continues to strive to be ranked among the best of our peer institutions globally, while staying true to our mission as a balanced academy that delivers an exceptional student learning experience in a research-intensive environment.

I do believe that our international profile lags our reputation within Canada, and raising that profile is a priority for Queen’s. One thing we are going do in this regard is to recruit top students and faculty members from around the world. This is part of a new Internationalization Strategy we are currently developing.

CL: What is the Internationalization Strategy?

JL: The Internationalization Strategy will have two main goals: to expand and strengthen Queen’s international reach through innovative programs, and to ensure staff and students are engaged here on campus with international and intercultural skills to operate successfully in today's global society. As Principal Woolf said in The Third Juncture, now is our opportunity to demonstrate that Queen’s is an adaptable institution, of great value on a global, not merely a provincial or national stage.

Queen's in the World
 
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