I’m gonna rant here a bit and then segue into a different rant. I got the Macleans 2006 University Rankings as an unavoidable part of my subscription to a magazine on an increasingly downward spiral. I have some issues with these rankings, mostly I don’t believe them, trust them or think they help anyone. I think they pit institutions against each other for no reason. It’s not even a matter of comparing apples to oranges, it’s apples to sandwiches; similar (still food) but completely unrelated. I mean, how can you compare the University of Toronto to the University of Saskatchewan solely because they both have Medical/Doctoral programs? (I’ll be honest, I haven’t actually looked at the rankings, so I’m going by past experience.)

If I were trying to decide which university to go to, I don’t think library holdings, research grants or student services budgets would have much bearing. The reputation of the program is at the top of my list. Not even the reputation of the school. The reputation of the University of Saskatchewan may not be spectacular, but the reputation of the College of Engineering certainly is, as is the Chemical Engineering program. But the MBA program? Maybe the Aboriginal MBA program, but for an MBA, I think I’d look at Western. For Engineering, I might also look at Queen’s or Waterloo. But my decision won’t be based on alumni support or classes taught by tenured faculty. Do the students coming out of the program get jobs? Good jobs? Do employers see the school on the résumé and know the kind of education the candidate has? Probably. So class size and scholarships aren’t part of my decision.

And now to segue into my other topic. Part of my issue is that universities have clearly said that they don’t like the rankings and they don’t want to participate. But Macleans feels they have a “duty” to provide this information. I’m pretty sure that the core Macleans readers don’t care, because only a small percentage of them are considering to which schools to send their kids (or to go themselves). If they want to publish a completely separate tome for people to buy to provide solid, in-depth information about schools and programs, that would be fine. And I’m sure that if the quality is improved, schools will be more willing to participate. But this high-and-mighty attitude is disappointing, disheartening and generally (for me) reinforces the idea that big companies don’t care any more.

I work for a big company. Many people I know work for big companies. And I find that big companies have no concept of their customers or their employees. “Even though we’re able to make a billion-dollar profit, we still need to nickel-and-dime you for extra services.” Or, “We won’t provide things that will make your work more enjoyable, so we’ll compromise and make your targets harder to meet, micro-manage you more and next year ask what we can do to make your work more enjoyable.” That last is pretty much how my company works. And they make billion-dollar profits. They don’t seem to understand that sometimes parts of the company need to cost money in order to ensure that other parts of the company make money. Making the part that costs money cost less, doesn’t translate into making the part that makes money make more. Making sure the part that costs money is effective should be the important part, regardless of the cost. And special introductory offers are nice and all, but what about incentives for loyal customers not to jump ship?

Hey, thanks for letting me rant. That’s why I have my own website.