British Columbia

Maclean's university rankings pin #1 ranking on UNBC

For the first time in its 25-year history, the University of Northern British Columbia has scored the number 1 spot in the Maclean's Magazine annual ranking of Canadian universities.

'It's incredibly important that they see this as really the destination of first choice...' says president

UNBC has just ranked #1 among Canada's small universities, according to the newest Maclean's Magazine rankings. (UNBC)

For the first time in its 25-year history, the University of Northern British Columbia has scored the number 1 spot in the Maclean's Magazine annual ranking of Canadian universities.

The school, which came in second last year, beat out 18 other universities in the Primarily Undergraduate category.

"It's fantastic news," said Daniel Weeks, UNBC president. 

"It only confirms what most of the folks here in Prince George and in fact across the north already know. We're a great university with great programs, offering great opportunities for our young people in the north."

Universities within each category are ranked on performance indicators based on five broad areas: students (28%), faculty (24%), resources (20%), student support (13%) and reputation (15%). 

Attracting the best and brightest

Earlier this year, Weeks identified decreased funding and declining enrolment as two of the biggest challenges facing the university in today's increasingly competitive environment.

The provincial government's operating grant funds two-thirds of the UNBC budget and was slashed by $572,000, while enrolment dropped by 5.9% this year over last. 

"The future of the north depends on the leadership of our young people coming up. It's incredibly important that they see this as really the destination of first choice for their post-secondary education," Weeks said.

Duncan Malkinson, president of the Northern Undergraduate Student Society, said the Maclean's rankings were something he consulted prior to choosing UNBC. 

"To have a ranking like that that brings attention to all the different criteria that they judge universities on, it's very, very helpful. It really shows how UNBC sets itself apart from others," Malkinson said.

'We owe it to the people of the north'

Weeks said the success of the university owes to the contributions of some of the school's most experienced faculty, many of whom are approaching retirement.

"When they were hired, this place was a hole in the ground — literally a hole in the ground. 

"Yet they took a leap of faith and said ... 'I'm going to commit to building something incredible,' and they have," Weeks said.

"I really think we owe it to the people of the north and British Columbia to provide a real, credible alternative right here in the north, and we do."


To hear the full interview with Daniel Weeks and Duncan Malkinson, listen to the audio labelled: UNBC snags #1 ranking in Maclean's Magazine.

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