Battle of the rankings

“American universities have begun a rebellion against academic league tables. British universities should join them. Annually since 1983, US News & World Report has published a table of rankings – we would call them league tables – of American universities and degree-granting colleges. As late August approaches, university presidents, who will have been told in advance of the positions of their institutions in the tables, prepare press statements pointing out how well they have done, if not overall then – hopefully – at least in some sub-category. This good news will appear on their websites, and will be exploited in promotional and recruiting literature. But this year the really good news is not that Harvard has come top, displacing last year’s No1 (Princeton), or that “HYP” – Harvard, Yale and Princeton – almost invariably occupy the top three places. No. The really good news is that more US-based higher-education institutions than ever before have refused to take any part whatsoever in the so-called “reputational” survey, the results of which comprise the single greatest component of the formula used by US News in compiling its rankings tables …” (more)

[Geoffrey Alderman. Guardian, 27 August]

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