Vanderbilt University said it found “many flaws” in this year’s US News & World Report college rankings, joining a growing list of schools criticizing the higher education scorecard.
(Bloomberg) — Vanderbilt University said it found “many flaws” in this year’s US News & World Report college rankings, joining a growing list of schools criticizing the higher education scorecard.
The private research institution in Nashville fell five spots to 18th from 13th, blaming the drop on changes to the magazine’s methodology. Vanderbilt decried the removal of factors like “faculty with the highest degrees attainable in their fields” and “the percentage of entering students who are in the top 10% of their high-school class.” The university said it was evaluating its next steps.
“U.S. News’s change in methodology has led to dramatic movement in the rankings overall, disadvantaging many private research universities while privileging large public institutions,” Chancellor Daniel Diermeier and Provost C. Cybele Raver wrote in an email to alumni.
US News this year put an increased emphasis on weighing a college’s ability to graduate students from different backgrounds, amid criticism that the rankings reward wealthy institutions. Vanderbilt said that while social mobility is important, the magazine used incomplete and misleading data to evaluate it.
Vanderbilt’s pushback on the undergraduate rankings comes after some of the nation’s top graduate programs have already quit participating in the annual scorecard, including Yale Law School and Harvard Medical School. While the impact so far has been limited at the undergraduate level, some like Reed College withdrew from the rankings in the 1990s. Columbia University said in June it would no longer participate.
Vanderbilt’s endowment was $10.2 billion as of June 2022, the latest public data, making it among the 20 richest universities in the US.
Read more: Yale-Harvard snub of US News rankings opens way for more exits
US News said in an article accompanying the rankings that it took into account research findings and polls to help identify factors that represent what students are looking for in schools. It found that public schools ranked higher than previously, especially in large, diverse states.
US News Chief Executive Officer Eric Gertler said the changes to this year’s methodology placed greater emphasis on outcomes, such as graduation rates, post-graduate earnings, borrower debt and how successful schools are at at educating all their students across socioeconomic backgrounds.
“These changes are part of the ongoing evolution to make sure our rankings capture what is most important for students as they compare colleges and select the school that is right for them,” Gertler said in a statement.
Other institutions also fell steeply this year. Tulane University slid 29 spots. University President Michael Fitts said that US News made a “serious and consequential error” in how it measured the financial success of its students and first-generation graduation rates.
Princeton University retained its top ranking in this year’s list, while fellow Ivy League members Brown University and Cornell University increased. Meanwhile, University of Chicago fell as did New York University.
–With assistance from Janet Lorin.
(Corrects spelling of Tulane president’s last name in penultimate paragraph)
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