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Canada: U of T tops McGill in global school ranking

University of Toronto

A new global university ranking by subject has pegged the University of Toronto as the country’s leading institution – and ranked McGill University after the University of British Columbia as well.

It’s a little bit of a bruising for McGill, the university that has been called the Harvard of the north. Still, it’s not so bad being more like Yale.

The QS World University Rankings compared universities across 29 disciplines and was the largest ranking by subject ever done.

U of T ranked No. 1 nationally in 21 of the 29 disciplines, ahead of UBC with six and McGill with two.

Though McGill failed to match the top-10 rankings of Toronto and UBC, it still made the global top 20 in an impressive eight disciplines.

“These rankings provide great news for Canada, pointing to world-class departments in a range of discipline areas,” said Ben Sowter, head of research at QS. “While the U.S. still dominates at an overall institutional level, within narrower subject areas the picture is far more diverse.”

Six Canadian universities made the top 30 in at least one discipline. MIT and Harvard both topped the table at 11 of the 29 disciplines, ahead of Oxford with three, Stanford with three and Cambridge with one.

In Canada, the highest rank for some of the universities included seven for U of T in modern languages; eight for UBC in geography; 17 for McGill in linguistics; 17 for Université du Québec in linguistics; 25 for University of Alberta in pharmacy and pharmacology; 30 for McMaster University in medicine; 34 for University of Waterloo in computer science; and 50 for Western University in psychology.

Universities from 17 countries made the top 20 in at least one discipline. “Global competition to develop research capacity and attract international talent is shaking up the established order,” Sowter said. “The financial crisis has eroded the ability of leading universities in the U.S. and U.K. to monopolize world-class researchers and students.”

As for McGill, it still ranks 17th overall in the QS World University Rankings and 28th in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

Olivier Marcil, vice-principal of communications and external relations for McGill, said the new ranking had a changed methodology that it would examine. “It’s important to look at rankings over a long period of time, to get a true picture of where a university stands.”

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