Columbia will not participate in US News & World Report’s upcoming rankings of colleges across the country, after a Columbia mathematics professor questioned the accuracy of the data that guaranteed its number. 2 places in the influential ranking, the university announced Thursday evening.
The deadline for submitting data for classification is Friday, and a university spokesperson said officials needed more time to analyze the data and address criticisms raised by Professor Michael Thaddeus.
In a scathing 21-page critique, d. Posting on his website in February, Thaddeus not only challenged the data behind the rankings, but fueled the debate about whether university rankings — used by millions of prospective college students and their parents — are valuable or accurate.
“Columbia’s leaders take these questions very seriously, and we immediately set out to review the data collection and presentation process,” said Mary C. Boyce, Dean of Columbia in the announcement.
At the time, Columbia stuck to its statements, but Dr. Boyce said the university is now “closely reviewing our operations in light of the questions asked.”
“The ongoing review is a matter of integrity,” she continued. “We are not going to take shortcuts in getting it right.”
Columbia spokesperson, Ben Chang, said he did not want to speculate when Columbia would again participate in the rankings.
The withdrawal of an Ivy League school like Columbia from the rankings, albeit temporarily, is a blow to its reputation and could motivate other universities to reconsider their participation as well. Many college presidents complain that rankings force them to emphasize statistics that oversimplify what it takes to find a good match between a student and a school.
Dr. Thaddeus said Thursday evening that the move raised a set of questions that Colombia has not yet answered.
“Is the university expressing its disapproval of the US News rankings itself?” wrote in a letter. Will you withdraw in the coming years as well? Why is the work not completed? What about the questions you asked that, apparently, derailed the process? “
He added that the university did not provide “any objective responses to the concrete issues it raised.”
in d. Criticizing Thaddeus, he cited evidence he collected that Columbia made its college classes appear smaller, its educational expenses appear larger and its professors appear more educated.
Officials said the next version of the rating is due to be released in September. To help prospective students navigate without it, Dr. In the fall, Boyce said, Columbia planned to publish a joint dataset, a loosely standardized statistical set used by institutions of higher education. She would include much of the same information that is included in US news files.
Dr. Thaddeus said he understood that Columbia had prepared such sets of data in the past for its own internal use, but had not made it public.
“The point is that they have documents that would highlight what they previously submitted to US News — and might also reveal whether their misrepresentations were intentional or unintentional — but they refuse to make it public, even after the overwhelming majority of faculty members who voted have asked them to. “.
the master. Chang, the spokesperson, declined to comment on Dr. Thaddeus comments on the joint data set but notes Columbia’s pledge to publish a data set this fall. “The university has always done what I thought was a comprehensive process,” he said. “Our goal is maximum accuracy and transparency.”
Critics said the US News formula tends to reward schools on the basis of wealth and reputation.
In his analysis, Dr. Thaddeus, a specialist in algebraic geometry, found that the main supporting data provided by Columbia were “inaccurate, questionable, or highly misleading”.
This year, Colombia moved up one place in the rankings to number one. 2; The university was surpassed only by Princeton University and tied with Harvard and MIT
Dr. Thaddeus noted that Colombia ranked 18th in 1988, a rise he suggested was notable. “Why did Colombia’s fortunes improve so dramatically?” asked in his analysis.
Columbia is not the first university whose ranking data has been called into question.
This year, the University of Southern California pulled its school of education from the US News rankings due to inaccuracies in data going back five years. The former dean of Temple University’s business school was convicted last year of using fraudulent data between 2014 and 2018 to improve the school’s national rankings and increase revenue. The school’s online MBA program has been rated the best in the country by US News & World Report in the years it has rigged data.
Over the years, other schools such as Iona College, Claremont McKenna College, and Emory University have been found to have falsified or manipulated data.