Four Provinces are Home to Canada’s Top Research Universities

According to a study by Re$earch Infosource Inc., the University of Toronto, the University of Waterloo (both in Ontario) and the University of Lethbridge (Alberta) were designated Research Universities of the Year in their respective categories (“medical/doctoral,” “comprehensive” and “undergraduate”).

English: Marine Drive Residence, University of...

English: Marine Drive Residence, University of British Columbia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The other top university in each of the three categories were: “medical/doctoral”: McGill University (QC) and the University of British Columbia (BC); “comprehensive”: the University of Guelph (ON) and the University of Victoria (BC); “undergraduate”: Ryerson University (ON) and Universite du Quebec a Rimouski (QC).

(“Medical/doctoral” is a category of post-secondary institutions offering a broad range of research and doctoral programs, including medical schools. “Comprehensive” universities have both significant research programs and a wide range of undergraduate programs, while “undergraduate” universities are largely focusing on undergraduate education).

Re$earch Infosource also provides data on the universities that attracted over $100 million  of research income in fiscal year 2011 (18 institutions, up from 16 in 2010). Top research dollars were attracted by the University of Toronto ($916,000), followed at significant distance by the University of British Columbia ($575,000), the University of Alberta ($536,000), Universite de Montreal ($525,000) and McGill University ($522,000). The other 13 universities attracted between $103,000 and $326,000 each.

The total research income for Canada’s first 50 research universities reached $6.63 billion annually. Ontario captured 38% of this amount, followed by Quebec (27%), Alberta (13%) and British Columbia (12%). The other 10% was divided between Canada’s remaining nine provinces and territories.

Re$earch Infosource analysts point out that “research income growth has […] been slowing in recent years from the heady days of double-digit increases in the early years of the 2000s. [Yet] in the context of declining federal government spending and with public sector job layoffs accelerating, the research community has, for now, dodged a fiscal bullet. […] In a best case scenario the ‘new normal’ will be research income growth that keeps pace with inflation.”

The ranking for Research Universities of the Year was based on a combination of indicators relating to “a balanced set of input, output and impact measures for FY2011 [demonstrating] superior achievement both in earning research income and in publishing research in leading scientific journals.”

Eastern Canada, Main Destination for International Students

British Passport, Canada, Thailand

British Passport, Canada, Thailand (Photo credit: dcgreer)

Maclean’s Magazine’s newly released 2013 university rankings reveal a very interesting picture of international students in Canada. Data (collected in 2011, on first year populations) indicate that universities in Central and Eastern Canada attract a majority of international students. Some highlights are relevant:

Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada have the largest number of universities where international students make up more than 5% of the student populations (8 universities in Ontario, 7 in Quebec and 10 in Atlantic Canada).

The highest concentration of international students is in Ontario and Quebec, given the overall size of the student population at many of the two provinces’ universities. Both Ontario and Quebec have some of the largest post-secondary institutions in Canada – significantly larger than universities in Atlantic Canada.

McGill, Montreal, Laval, Concordia (in Quebec), Toronto and Waterloo (in Ontario) are some of the largest universities in Canada that have over 10% international student populations.

The University of Toronto has 16.3% international students, out of a total of 71,000 full-time and 8,000 part-time students. While having a smaller student population (30,000 full-time and 6,000 part-time students), McGill has the largest percentage of students from outside Canada (21.3%) among the country’s big universities. (McGill also holds the first place in Maclean’s 2013 national reputational ranking).

In British Columbia (BC) and the Prairies, three post-secondary institutions – Simon Fraser, the University of British Columbia and the University of Alberta – are also relatively large universities where students from outside Canada constitute over 10% of their student populations.

There are however five relatively large universities in the Prairies and Ontario that have disappointingly low percentages of students from outside Canada. Calgary and Manitoba (in the Prairies) have only 4% international students among their student populations. At Queen’s and Ryerson (in Ontario) international students make up 3% of each university’s 20,000+ full-time students (3,500 part-time students at Queen’s and 14,500 part-time students at Ryerson).

The University of Ottawa (Ontario), with its sizable student population of 33,000 full-time students and 7,500 part-time students, has an inconsequential 1.9% level of international students.

A recent blog post here highlights why post-secondary institutions and governments at all levels across Canada are monitoring closely these figures and proposing strategies to attract more international students. They see this as a win-win situation: universities and Canadian cities benefit from an influx of qualified and talented individuals – who also sustain and create jobs locally – while the students can later pursue their careers and life goals in this country.