Society and Culture

U of A’s solid showing helps Canada stand out in latest global university rankings

University's performance bolstered by key measures of citations by faculty and international presence on campus.

  • June 08, 2021
  • By Michael Brown

Canada is one of the best countries to go to university, thanks in part to another solid showing by the University of Alberta in the 2022 QS World University Rankings.

Alberta’s flagship post-secondary institution maintained its top five rank in Canada and 38th-place standing in North America, and landed at 126th in the world. The U of A’s rank, together with seven other Canadian universities finding their way into the top 200, helped secure Canada’s position as the sixth-strongest global higher education location.

“Canadians have always valued a quality post-secondary education and the innovation that comes out of universities,” said U of A president Bill Flanagan. “When Alberta became a province, one of the first orders of business was to create the University of Alberta. That same belief still resonates a century later: that a community is only as strong as its university, and the talent and innovations it produces.”

For the rankings, the U of A outpaced the global mean in three key ratios. In the citations per faculty member ratio, which correlates directly with quality research and reputation, the U of A’s 90.3 citations per faculty member exceeded the world average of 85.8. As well, the 35.2 international faculty per 100 faculty surpassed the global average of 23.9, and the U of A’s 28.4 per cent of international students was nine per cent higher than the global average.

The 2022 rankings also saw the U of A’s reputation among employers increase by 59 points over the previous year—an indication of how employers regard the quality of a school’s education in preparing graduates with relevant knowledge and skills.

This ranking, the 18th edition of the QS World University Rankings, provides authoritative comparative analysis on the performance of the world’s top 1,300 universities, which can be found in 97 locations.

Academic reputation and international student indicators were also main drivers of the ranking, which is produced by the global higher education consultancy QS Quacquarelli Symonds. QS uses six indicators—academic reputation (40 per cent), employer reputation (10), faculty/student ratio (20), citations per faculty (20), international faculty ratio (5) and international student ratio (5)—to determine an institution's final score.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been named the global number-one for a record-extending 10th consecutive year, ahead of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, Stanford University and Harvard University.

Canada's top university remains the University of Toronto (26th), followed by McGill University (27th), the University of British Columbia (46th), Université de Montréal (111th) and the U of A. The three other Canadian schools that helped fill out the top 200 were McMaster (140th), Waterloo (149th) and Western (170th).

This ranking follows the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) World University Rankings 2021-22, which placed the U of A 81st in the world—up 20 spots from last year’s showing—and fourth in Canada.

In April, the U of A ranked 64th in the world in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, which rated the world’s most sustainable post-secondary institutions based on their efforts toward achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.