Why the Globe and Mail is BS

Canadian Universities Forum (discussion group)

Subject: Why the Globe and Mail is BS
"Cynics will say that the Globe and Mail ratings are little more than a expedient venture to capture some of the lucrative market that Maclean´s magazine has created for itself with its annual ranking of Canadian universities. However, the arrival of the echo boomers, the Ontario double cohort, and rising admissions requirements and tuition fees in some provinces are driving the need to consider attending universities people know little about.

Criticism of the Maclean?s rankings has been long running and considerable, with different institutions refusing to participate at various times. On the very day that the Globe and Mail published its ´report card,´ Robert Birgeneau, President of the University of Toronto (ranked number one on the Maclean´s scale since 1994) stated that the institution was reconsidering its participation. The most fundamental flaw with Maclean?s is that the great majority of its survey elements measure inputs?how many books the library has, average grade of entering students, operating budgets, etc.?not outputs such as career satisfaction, employability, and success at graduate schools.

Similarly, concern about the Globe and Mail ?report card? ought to centre on its methodology. The Uthink/Strategic Counsel survey published in the Globe and Mail was conducted using the web. Such a survey needs to ensure that respondents are representative of the wider population that the designers are interested in. The Globe and Mail reports that personal validation measures were designed into the survey instrument, but the very fact that only students looking for scholarship information on one web site were primarily targeted means that the sample excludes students who took other approaches to finding out about scholarship information and must have an under representation of students who already hold scholarships or are sponsored (such as First Nations/Aboriginal students). Claims that the survey is representative are likely based on a comparison of the polled population to national demographic statistics, not institutional ones: the results for the University of Saskatchewan are not necessarily representative of the UofS student body.

Campaigning can also undermine the validity of the data collected when a group looking for a certain survey result gets like-minded people to respond. The Uthink/Strategic Counsel respondents were self-selected, the survey was run over a three and half week period, and respondents were encouraged to get friends (likely individuals with similar characteristics) to respond. Hopefully, the survey length (100 items) undermined any efforts at intentional campaigning.

All pollsters need a sample size large enough to extrapolate the findings to the larger population. Therefore, the Globe and Mail student survey designers decided not to include universities from which fewer than 250 students had responded. Some of Canada?s most interesting (and, according to other rankings, best universities) have very low enrolments. A university ranking that excludes these institutions must be of dubious interest.

However, a major difficulty with the Globe and Mail survey is similar to the problem that many voice about the Maclean?s rankings: it simply does not attempt to measure the right things to get the answer it seeks. A survey of current students cannot provide much insight into the output of a university?s educational efforts. Current students simply are not in a good position to comment upon the value of their education because they have not yet completed it or had a meaningful opportunity to put it to use. Diners cannot affirm that they are satisfied with their meal when they are still on the first course.

Most university students attend only one institution and, therefore, do not have external reference points against which to assess the institution at which they study. The parameters for satisfaction assessments will often be internal. In other words, satisfaction surveys of university students can really only produce absolute not relative results: they can only be used to assess how well an institution is satisfying student needs, they cannot be used to compare how well one university meets student needs compared to another university. Getting a university education is not like buying a can of cola where consumers have had multiple opportunities to try Coke, Pepsi, and a variety of other products in that market."



Listen, at least with Maclean´s you are given a set of objective statistics that are easily reproducible like entering students average, library holdings, faculty awards, students awards, etc. You can ignore Maclean´s method of combining and weighing these statistics to form a ranking and instead analyze and compare the stats on your own.

But with the Globe and Mail, as you will see, the grades assigned often look completely arbitrary. The sample was not random which is basically the dumbest mistake you can make, and the majority of questions students are asked are completely useless since (1) students have no way of comparing schools (2) students are in no way informed or prepared to answer, etc.

Case and Point:


York: A-
holdings per student: 131
total holdings: less than a million

UofT: A-
holdings per student: 252
total holdings: 14.873 million

Attractiveness of Campus

York: B

York is located next to Jane and Finch - Toronto´s most dangerous area (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_and_Finch).


UofT: B

UofT is next to Yorkville - One of Toronto´s most affluent neighbourhoods(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yorkville%2C_Toronto), Bay St - Canada´s "Wall St." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bay_Street), and yes, China town.


I challenge anyone to find better looking architecture than UofT at any Canadian University. UofT is modelled after Yale, and Yale is said to be the best looking campus in the US. Why do you think there are so many pictures of UofT on the net? Why so many tours? So many movies?

Still think UofT deserves a B?

Overall Educational Experience:

York: B+

Large class sizes (same as UofT, UBC, McMaster, Queen´s, and McGill)

Classes taught by tenured faculty: 57.9%
Percentage of Faculty with PhD´s: 90.9%
Awards per faculty (per 1000): 5.5
Entering Grade: 81.0%
Student Awards (per 1000): 3.2

UofT: B+

Classes taught by tenured faculty: 68.3%
Percentage of Faculty with PhD´s: 98.5%
Awards per faculty (per 1000): 10.4
Entering Grade: 85.1%
Student Awards (per 1000): 7.6


In the end, how do you ask students to rate an entire Universities reputation for cutting edge research? Overall Educational Experience? Reputation of university among employers? Overall quality of career preparation? when the students being polled are still in University and are in no way informed about these things?

Globe and Mail report card is nothing more then an attempt to copy Maclean´s success and make some money.

(in reply to: Why the Globe and Mail is BS)
I am not a Yorkie.


WHy did you compare with York??

You are very insecure!! What I hate UofT students is they want to rasie their self-esteem by bashing York. I hope you people won´t beat some seniors up on street to show how strong you are.

Why not compare with a world-class school like McGill??

Fear to compare with it??

(in reply to: Why the Globe and Mail is BS)
York: A-
holdings per student: 131
total holdings: less than a million

The figure less than one million is what you made it up!!

I doubt the integrety, ethics and honesty of UofT students.

(in reply to: Why the Globe and Mail is BS)
You missed the point. It´s not about comparing UofT with York or picking on York, it´s about how arbitrary and inaccurate the grades are.


This is where I got the info on York´s library from.


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