|Subject: Why the Globe and Mail "Report Card" is BS
| Globe and Mail gives high grades to nonexistent schools
Date: Sunday, October 19 @ 01:36:44 EDT
SEE: ?ACLU, Media, & Political Correctness? under ?Issues Research?
Heather Sokoloff and Gillian Cosgrove (NP)
A university ranking published this week by The Globe and Mail has awarded top marks to medical and law schools that do not exist.
The Globe´s University Report Card listed medical schools at York University and the University of Waterloo among Canada´s Top 10, though neither has a faculty of medicine.
The University of Waterloo´s law school placed ninth, yet the southern Ontario campus does not offer a law degree. In seventh place among law schools is the University of Quebec, which is not a single campus but a network of 10 schools located throughout the province, each with a different name.
"York did have some good results, but of course we don´t have a medical school," said Nancy White, a spokeswoman for York University. She said the Toronto school was flattered in any case, but a bit peeved its famous law faculty, Osgoode Hall, did not make the top 10 in its category. "There is an issue with the overall reliability of the survey."
In a forward to the Report Card, entitled "Why 26,000 students Can´t Be Wrong," Allan Gregg, chairman of The Strategic Counsel, the market-research firm that designed the survey, explained the results were based entirely on student responses to an online survey on issues such as the quality of teaching assistants, class size, availability of courses and the library services at their university.
The survey was e-mailed to a group of students who are members of StudentAwards.com, an online database operated by a company called UThink, that requires students to answer a series of questions with the hope of being matched with a scholarship.
"It looks pretty goofy to me," said Joel Duff, spokesman for the Canadian Federation of Students.
Mr. Duff said he generally supports initiatives that solicit student opinion, but questions the methodology of this report.
"How can you ask students to judge their university against a single experience?" Mr. Duff said. "If you go to Trent how do you rate your library if you´ve never been to the library at Queen´s or Dalhousie or St. Boniface? It´s a pretty unscientific way of analyzing quality."
Some schools have been openly critical of the methodology, saying students seeking scholarships are not a representative sample. "It´s a self-selected group," said David Farrar, vice-provost of the University of Toronto. "And they are not very well-informed university students at that."
Even Edwin Bourget, vice-rector of research at Universit? de Sherbrooke, the school that was ranked fourth overall and the only institution outside Ontario to make the top 8, admitted he was not entirely comfortable with the methodology.
"It´s not scientific," he said. "On the other hand, it has some credibility. It can´t be totally ignored because it tells us about students´ perceptions."
David Plaxton, a managing partner with The Strategic Counsel, blamed the errors on overly enthusiastic undergrads who do not know much about graduate school.
"Students are going to be very smart about their residences, where they live and the atmosphere on campus and the services they use. That´s where they need to be smart. But where they may not be so good is on graduate schools."