We’re always curious about how Canadian universities stack up against the rest of the world, so a new ranking from Times Higher Education is right up our alley. While the majority of our time in university was spent occupying various administration buildings (and bowling), it’s nice to know that really, we were basking in an environment of learning and growth. Or something like that.

These ‘impact rankings’, as they’re known, are the only ones of their kind that use the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a sort of measuring stick for the universities. These goals include things like no poverty, gender equality, the local environment, and innovations in things like infrastructure. There are 17 different factors in all, and they’re grouped together under four main categories- research, stewardship, outreach and teaching. Keep in mind that these rankings are little different from others, including Times Higher’s own annual university rankings.

It might sound a little bit backwards, but there is some method to the madness. If these major universities are treated as communities, then it makes sense to evaluate them as such. Gone are the days (mostly) of tiny campuses, where every student was covered financially and treated equally. Heck, those days probably never existed for that second part, but that’s a story for another time.

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Of the over 1,000 universities included in the rankings, one Canadian name actually made it into the top 5 overall! Shoutout to Queen’s University for nabbing the 5th spot, and ranking 1st overall for the ‘no poverty metric’. But, let’s see which other names landed in the top 50! For reference, the number represents the total score, out of 100.

5. Queen’s University- 97
13. University of British Columbia- 95.1
14. McMaster University- 94.9
34. University of Toronto- 91.4
39. University of Montreal- 90.5
43. University of Calgary- 90.2
46. Simon Fraser University- 90.1

One thing to keep in mind here is how these rankings stack up against actual countries, because they’re leagues ahead. In 2020, the country with the highest SDGs score was Sweden, and it got a final score of 84.72. If you comparing that to the university rankings, Sweden would not even make it into the top 100. However, the methodology between the two lists might be different, so take this with a grain of salt.

And anyway, universities are supposed to be incubators for growth, so we’re not too surprised. We’re just saying that in the scheme of things, ranking low on this list isn’t something we’d be super concerned about (looking at you, McGill and U of A).

To check out the Impact Rankings of the world’s universities for 2021, just click here!