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Maclean's magazine released its annual education rankings last week and McGill was perched at the top of them, sharing first place with the much larger University of Toronto in the medical/doctoral category.
The Maclean's category of medical/doctoral in which McGill was included is reserved for schools that have "a broad range of PhD programs and research, as well as medical schools." The ranking of comprehensive university was topped by Waterloo, and the category of primarily undergraduate was led by St. Francis Xavier.
The publication praised McGill as a "world-renowned research institution" whose sense of history and culture has imbued the school with a unique sense of purpose. Maclean's described the university's present story as one of "renewal and rejuvenation" that has been sparked by a new generation of top-flight academics from around the world.
McGill's outstanding academics and exceptionally bright undergraduates are among the factors that make it Canada's best school, according to Maclean's — "Call it human Velcro: smart people attracted to other smart ones."
The university placed first in average entering grade and student awards. In terms of attracting research funding, McGill professors were first overall for social science and humanities grants, and second for medical/science grants. And, as usual, McGill's student body was found to be the most international in the country.
The university's stellar reputation was also a key reason for its top place finish. Academic and industry officials from across Canada identified McGill as the "highest quality" university, according to the Maclean's findings. They also chose McGill as among the top five in the categories of "leaders of tomorrow" and "most innovative."
In profiling McGill's achievements, the magazine revealed that the university is at the forefront in the competition for top talent. It noted that the school "leverages government grants with support from philanthropists and research partners" to attract world leaders in a wide range of disciplines, from astrophysics to genetics to social work.
Maclean's University Ranking ‘05 also took note of the increasing importance of philanthropy for cash-strapped universities, with one report sharing details of dinner-table meetings between Principal Munroe-Blum and Seymour Schulich that resulted in a recent $20-million donation.
In a special feature on McGill, the magazine outlined recent efforts to create a student-centred environment that allows undergraduates to benefit from the research culture that surrounds them. Other highlights of the issue included a photograph of Principal Munroe-Blum and a detailed description of the interdisciplinary music research that is taking place at McGill.
McGill and the University of Toronto's first place tie came ahead of Western and then University of British Columbia. Maclean's placed Queen's in fifth. The magazine also included a photo of rioting Queen's students standing on an overturned car.
The Maclean's rankings were consistent with other sources that have consistently identified McGill as one of the top schools in Canada and the world. During the last month, the Times Higher Education Supplement named McGill as the only Canadian school among the world's 25 best universities, and Research Infosource (a leading data source) designated McGill as Canada's most research-intensive university.