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Thursday, December 01, 2022

Colombia loses its No. 2 spot in US news rankings

What is the equivalent of “dissolved” or “defrocked” in the world of college rankings? Could it be “Unranked”?

Without fanfare, U.S. News & World Report announced that it had “unranked” Columbia University from its No. 2 spot in the 2022 edition of Best Colleges, after the university was unable to verify data that supported its ranking. was presented to.

The decision was posted on the US news website on Thursday, a week after Colombia said it was withdrawing from the upcoming 2023 rankings. The university then said it would not participate in the next ranking as it was investigating allegations from one of its own mathematics professors that the No. 2 ranking was based on incorrect and misleading data.

The US News Post said that in March, after learning of the criticism, it had asked Columbia to certify the data it had reported, which included information on the number of instructional full-time and part-time faculty, the number of full-time faculty . With the highest degree in their field, student-faculty ratio, graduating class size and education expenditure.

“To date, Colombia has been unable to provide a satisfactory response to the information requested by US News,” the post said.

US News chief data strategist Robert Morse wrote in an email Friday that Columbia is no longer ranked in several categories — 2022 National University, 2022 Best Value School, and 2022 Top Performer on Social Mobility — because those rankings data was used. University statistical survey. He said that the organization has canceled the ranking of universities earlier.

Columbia said in a statement Friday that it “takes seriously the questions raised about our data submission,” and that it would not submit “undergraduate-related information” to US News while its own investigation was underway. .

“Cannot be fully reviewed,” the university wrote. “While we are disappointed by the decision by US News and World Report, we consider it a matter of integrity and will not take any shortcuts in correcting it.”

US News has acknowledged that it is up to universities to scrutinize their submitted data, which can be extensive, and that it does not have the resources to conduct independent audits. But the decision to remove Colombia from the current rankings once again raised questions about their overall accuracy.

In a separate blog posting, Mr. Morse said US News publishes annual rankings for more than 11,500 schools and hundreds of individual programs. Typically less than 0.1 percent of Americans report to the news that they have misrepresented the data, he said.

He provided a list of several dozen schools that admitted inaccurate reporting data from 2019, and were suspended for a year for their candor.

Rankings are impressive among students applying to college because it can be difficult to objectively compare schools and visit every campus they are interested in. College presidents have bitterly complained that the rankings are misleading, yet some institutions have fallen out of the game.

“I expected, still hope, that this episode will bring more attention to the failures and failures of the ranking system,” said Colin Diver, former president of Reed College. About the college ranking industry. “Unfortunately, most higher education, especially the elite, publicly criticize the rankings of the right and the left, and yet they cooperate with them.”

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Mathematics professor Michael Thaddeus, who first raised questions about Columbia’s data on his webpage in February, said the news points to flaws in a ranking system that does not independently examine the data behind it.

“What is clear is that there is no third-party vetting,” Dr. Thaddeus said. “At some point there is a need for third party auditing because these data is so important and so many people are making final decisions based on the data. It would be nothing to say that these data are self-reported and need to be verified. There’s no way.”

US News this week nodded critics in its post about Colombia. “We are concerned and are reviewing various options to ensure that our rankings maintain the highest level of integrity,” the statement said.

Mr Diver said it was standard practice for US News to suspend schools for spoofing or misreporting ranking data. But he said this usually happens when the school has admitted to misreporting or some sort of independent verification was done. “I think they chose to do this because there were credible allegations that they had exaggerated that data on these various measures,” he said.

Princeton President Christopher Eisgruber wrote an opinion piece in The Washington Post in October in which he said that although Princeton had topped US news rankings for 11 years, he was not a fan of the list.

“I believe the ranking game is a bit wrong – a bit of passion that does harm when colleges, parents or students take it too seriously,” he wrote. Because students felt pressure to go to higher-ranked schools, he said, schools focused resources on moving up the rankings, to the detriment of goals such as admitting more talented low-income students.

Ellen Delaquerry Contributed to research.

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