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Making sense of rankings

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Making sense of rankings

  1. 1. Are rankings fact, fiction or somewhere in between? Learn more about university rankings, what they mean and how you can use them.
  2. 2. Top 5 Colleges & Universities 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. MIT Harvard Cambridge UCL Imperial 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Cal Tech Oxford Harvard Stanford MIT 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Harvard Stanford Berkeley MIT Cambridge
  3. 3. What Criteria Did You Use? • Number of citations by university researchers? • Number of alumni winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals? • Academic-athletic balance? • Proportion of international faculty? • 6 year graduation rate? • Salaries of alumni? Salaries of faculty? • Acceptance rate?
  4. 4. AN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
  5. 5. Outcomes-Based Rankings • 1900 UK – Where We Get Our Best Men – Published a list of universities ranked in order by the absolute number of eminent men who attended them • 1910 US – American Men of Science – “Students should certainly use every effort to attend institutions having large proportions of men of distinction.”
  6. 6. Reputational Rankings • 1924 US – Raymond Hughes’ study on graduate school quality • 1966 US – Assessment of Quality in Graduate Education, The Cartter Report – Surveyed leading profs from different graduate disciplines
  7. 7. Pre-US News World of Rankings • Rankings were the realm of professors and higher education administrators, not the general public • They were published as studies in littlecirculated academic books and journals • Even if located, they were often too obscure and esoteric
  8. 8. US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT
  9. 9. The Beginning • First university ranking system to be published in a popular publication (1983) • The first three versions were published every other year and were entirely based on reputational surveys of college presidents • In 1988, US News began its annual publication of rankings and incorporated additional criteria (input and output)
  10. 10. Impact of US News • Impact on high school student (and parent) decisions – Students with high academic achievement are highly likely to find rankings “very important” • Impact of decisions made by universities on: – Admissions rates and practices – Fundraising and spending – Hiring
  11. 11. Gaming the System • Universities have falsified data • Reporting academic information only for certain demographics • Universities use unfair admissions practices – Huge numbers on waitlists – Part I of an application
  12. 12. PRESENT RANKINGS
  13. 13. USA • US News • Forbes – Based on academic outcomes and student reviews of professors – Combines universities and colleges • Princeton Review – Aspects of college life • Kiplinger’s Best Values
  14. 14. UK Comprehensive and by Subject – Involves the National Student Survey (data from 2 to 3 years ago) – Graduate prospects – How is this measured? • The Guardian – Focuses on teaching; ignores research • The Times Good University Guide – Research quality is from 2008! • The Complete University Guide
  15. 15. Canada • Maclean’s – Library = 15% – National Awards by faculty = 20% * DIY Rankings! Cool  * Includes information from the National Survey of Student Engagement Where’s the competition?
  16. 16. World Include Subject-based Rankings • QS World University Rankings – 40% Global Reputation Survey – Proportion of international students/faculty • Times Higher Education World University Rankings • Academic Ranking of World Universities – China – Simple formula based on academic distinctions and research Where are US colleges?
  17. 17. HOW DO THEY COMPARE?
  18. 18. Rankings • Quality cannot be quantified • They can tell you, in general terms, about the academic credentials of the students they attract
  19. 19. Unscientific Methods Universities A B C Stanford 2 6 9 MIT 7 6 1 Notre Dame 8 17 57 Duke 13 8 12 Boston College 14 31 72 Tufts 15 28 51 Dartmouth 17 10 34 Cornell 26 15 9 NYU 41 32 18
  20. 20. METHODOLOGIES
  21. 21. US News Criteria Academic Reputation Selectivity Faculty Resources Graduation/Retention Rates Financial Resources Alumni Giving
  22. 22. QS World University Rankings Criteria Academic Reputation Employer Reputation Faculty-Student Ratio Citations Per Faculty International Students International Faculty
  23. 23. CRITICISMS
  24. 24. Quality? • Quality cannot be quantified • Rankings measure how an institution grades out for specific criteria • When publications change their criteria, the rankings noticeably change – sometimes drastically • They can tell you, in general terms, about the academic credentials of the students they attract
  25. 25. One Size Fits All? • Institutions are so different with different missions. Aren’t we unfairly comparing institutions? Worldwide? • Are rankings really personal for you? Aren’t they generic?
  26. 26. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU?
  27. 27. How Can You Use Rankings? • Read the methodology. Know what you’re looking at. • Group universities (and colleges together) • Use a variety of publications • Use them as one small factor in your search
  28. 28. RECOMMENDATIONS
  29. 29. Alternatives to Rankings Would you date someone based purely on someone else’s opinion?
  30. 30. Set Your Criteria • Location • Learning Style – size of institution • Specific programs • Opportunities
  31. 31. Read Websites • Know the school – Columbia vs. Brown – MIT vs. U Chicago • Who are the professors? • Special opportunities – NYU Abu Dhabi
  32. 32. Guides • UCAS – Why study this course? – Special programs • US websites – College Prowler – Unigo • Books
  33. 33. People • College Reps! • Counselors • ISM Alumni
  34. 34. Final Points • Know yourself. • Spend time. Do your research. • Be thorough and open-minded. • Use rankings responsibly.

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