In the 2023 QS world university rankings by subject, the University of Alberta had two programs rank first in Canada: nursing, and petroleum engineering. Nursing has placed first in Canada for the second consecutive year, and petroleum engineering has placed first in Canada for the fourth consecutive year.
There are eight sections of criteria that the rankings are based on: academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty student ratio, citations per faculty, international faculty ratio, international students ratio, international research network, and employment outcomes.
College dean and vice-provost (natural and applied sciences) Matina Kalcounis-Rueppell, said that rankings are important, as prospective students from all over the world consider rankings when applying to post-secondary institutions.
“International rankings allow people to compare different academic institutions against certain metrics. They’re how we recruit people from outside of Edmonton, or Alberta, or Canada, to an institution like the U of A,” she said.
The institution as a whole ranked 110 in the world out of 1,597 institutions — 16 spots higher than last year. Additionally, 18 subjects at the U of A ranked in the top 100 internationally.
Kalcounis-Rueppell added that the main contributors to the program’s rankings are the students, faculty, and staff.
“You don’t have these kind of exceptional programs without really exceptional students, really exceptional faculty members, and really exceptional staff. For me, that’s the take-home of these rankings — the amazing people that we have at the U of A that are driving the foundation of the rankings.”
According to Kalcounis-Rueppell, work-integrated learning programs — such as the faculty of engineering’s co-op program, and the faculty of nursing’s professional clinical program — have positively contributed to the U of A’s rankings.
“We’re working really hard as an institution across multiple programs to make sure that work-integrated learning is an important part of the student experience … students are being taught by researchers that have exceptional partnerships with our industry partners, [who] are facilitating hands-on-learning for students.”
Nursing program places first in Canada and fifth worldwide
For a second consecutive year, the nursing program has ranked first in Canada. The program has also gone up in its worldwide ranking, placing fifth worldwide. In 2020, the nursing program ranked 18 worldwide.
Diane Kunyk, acting dean of the faculty of nursing, said that these rankings are a result of students, faculty, and staff “improving the faculty of nursing over decades.”
According to Kunyk, the nursing program rankings were heavily based on the number of citations in academic literature that researchers in the faculty get per paper each year, and where the research is published.
“I think our researchers are getting their research accessed more often, because what we’re doing is really important, and also accessible across disciplines,” she said.
Kunyk added that the rankings also assess academic and employer reputation, and these rankings “speak to the fact that our graduates are appreciated by employers, and doing very well in the health systems and health communities.”
According to Kunyk, the faculty of nursing’s partnership with the Alberta Health Services has contributed to the faculty’s success.
“The last couple of years have been really difficult in the health system, and there is a high need for nurses. We’ve done what we can to increase the numbers in our programs, but we’ve also been trying to adapt to find other ways of helping the system,” she said.
Kunyk added that as an example, students in the faculty of nursing helped with immunization clinics during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think that this really nice, close relationship with the health community is a good thing, but it’s also just the right thing to do.”
Petroleum engineering program also places first in Canada and fifth worldwide
Simaan Abourizk, dean of the faculty of engineering, said that the petroleum engineering program is “unique, because it has a limited number of students compared to other types of engineering disciplines.”
According to Abourizk, a contributor to the programs’ rankings are the instructors who also work in the petroleum engineering industry, and the partnerships between the program and the petroleum industry in Alberta. This includes a “petroleum engineering advisory committee made up of some of the largest companies in town, which provides guidance to the program director.”
Abourizk added that petroleum engineering involves different energy sectors, not just oil and gas.
“Some people think that petroleum engineering is just about producing gas and oil. It’s not, it’s much broader than that — it encompasses all kinds of energy,” Abourizk said.
“They do a lot of energy-based things, and that is quite important in terms of rankings. The fact that we cover the entire energy spectrum gives us quite a bit of an advantage over other programs that are smaller in size, and fairly focused on just one aspect of petroleum engineering.”
Abourizk said that although the faculty of engineering at the U of A has faced academic restructuring and budget cuts, the quality of education in the faculty has been maintained.
“Despite the fact that we’re restructuring on the fly, and we’re dealing with budget cuts … the fact that we were able to maintain and improve our rankings is no small accomplishment.”