Not long ago, a colleague and I were talking about Mount Royal’s plan to become a new, undergraduate, instructionally-focused university. While supportive, he wondered if students would be better served by, and get more value, from a university with an
established reputation, rather than from the new Mount Royal University. He suggested without malice that university reputation was important to students, and thus a degree from a larger research-intensive university would hold more value.
Last week’s release of the annual Maclean’s magazine university rankings (June 19, 2006) suggests that he may have missed the mark. While Canada’s research focused universities are indeed outstanding institutions from which anyone would be proud to have a degree, Canadian universities are experiencing what could be called a reputation-quality paradox: the widening gap between a university’s reputation — based primarily on research-related measures — and the quality of students’ undergraduate experience.