Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Gloves off, Maclean's's request for university info has turned into a demand

Maclean's magazine, facing the danger of seeing one of its premier cash cows, the universities issue, downed because the recalcitrance of many of the country's largest universities, has issued freedom of information requests to get the data it needs to compile the rankings. (Some earlier posts here and here and here; scroll back for others.)

This is yet another escalation in a continuing story that ramped up considerably when a consortium of university presidents said that, after more than a decade of cooperation, they would no longer fill out Maclean's's questionnaires. They argued that the methodology was flawed and the way in which data was pressented was unfair and inaccurate. Maclean's steadfastly said it would carry on, using public sources, but the going must have been tough, because they have now had to turn to the law to compel compliance. It is not at all clear whether such a request will be of any use in this year's issue, which is due out in November.

According to a story distributed by Canadian Press, Maclean’s says it has served 22 universities across the country with official requests for information.

"Among other data the magazine has asked for: the number of first-year undergraduates and the number of students who stay with a university from year to year. "As public institutions, universities have the responsibility to make this information publicly available," a Maclean’s spokesman said."

More information is provided in a story on CBC.ca.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope Maclean's also publishes how much they're forced to pay for the information at each of the different schools. It will be interesting to see how efficient/recalcitrant the various universities are, and would be a rare opportunity to make access-to-information laws, which are so bloody important to a free press, seem interesting.

2:03 pm  

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