The University of Toronto's Bahen Centre for Information Technology. (Courtesy U of T website.)

Published: July 29th, 2016

It would appear that two of Canada’s top technical universities are fairly well regarded around the world too.

A recent survey of QS World University ranking data by the World Economic Forum placed both the University of Waterloo and the University of Toronto among the world’s top 50 computer science programs.

Waterloo, which in an unintentional blow to Canadian pride author Sam Shead wrote was “not to be confused with London Waterloo,” tied with U.S. Ivy League institution Cornell University for 26th and 27th place, with a QS score of 80.4 out of 100; while U of T received a QS score of 83.8, high enough for 11th place.

It’s worth noting that the lowest-scoring school on the list, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, received a QS score of 74.1, while the five champions – MIT, Stanford, Oxford, Harvard, and Carnegie Mellon, respectively – received scores of between 93.8 and 91.4.

Conducted by London, U.K.-based international education firm Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), the QS World University Rankings have been published annually since 2004. To compile the list, company staff evaluate each submitted university based on four criteria: academic reputation, employer reputation, the number of times it’s cited in research papers, and research impact, which QS measures using what it calls the “h-index.”

Rather than starting with a list of specific schools, however, QS surveys thousands of academics and employers worldwide, with the 2016 drawing from 76,798 academic respondents and 44,426 responses from graduate employers.

The academics are asked to identify which countries, regions, and subjects they are most familiar with, and for each of the faculty areas they identify (up to five), they are invited to list up to 10 domestic and 30 international institutions they consider pinnacles of research – other than their own.

Complementing the academic responses, employers are asked to identify which disciplines they prefer to recruit from, and to identify up to 10 domestic and 30 international institutions they consider excellent sources for each.

The research impact is measured in-house, with the “h-index” (named in honour of the researcher who suggested it, University of California, San Diego physicist Jorge E. Hirsch) measuring both a scientist’s most cited papers and the number of citations they have received in other publications.

The results are then divided (at present) into 42 subjects, including computer science.

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