Global College Rankings: A Really Bad Idea

As many of you know, I’m not a fan of US News & World Report’s college rankings.

I write a college blog for US News, but that has never stopped me from arguing that the magazine’s rankings has prompted many colleges and universities to act badly and sometimes even behave unethically in pursuit of higher college rankings. This institutional behavior has ultimately hurt college-bound students and their families in countless ways.

I’m bringing the issue of college rankings up today in response to a story that I read over the weekend in The New York Times. While it’s preposterous to think that college rankings in this county are meaningful, it’s even crazier to think you can rank universities globally. It is, however, happening.

At a recent higher-ed conference, according to The Times, industry insiders from around the world served up  their own complaints about why global rankings fall short. The objections are the same or similar to the criticisms of US News’ rankings. Here are a few of the objections:

  • The rankings are dominated by a small number of extremely rich, English-speaking universities.
  • The ranking focus on such things as medical and scientific research and an institution’s overall reputation, which don’t impact student learning.
  • Rankings don’t care about a university’s impact on social mobility, which is particularly important in the developing world.
  • The rankings don’t measure what type of learning takes place at universities.

You can read the entire NYT article here:

Debating the Merit of University Rankings

If you’d like to learn more about the drawbacks of domestic college rankings, here are some of my previous posts:

No. 1 Reason Why College Rankings Are Lame

Blaming College Rankings for Runaway College Costs

College Rankings: My Pet Peeve

Attending a School With a Lousy College Ranking

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller and a workbook, Shrinking the Cost of College: 152 Ways to Cut the Cost of a Bachelor’s Degree. Follow her on Twitter.

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