Controversy Over Columbia University Rankings

A controversy has erupted following the publication of a report by Michael Thaddeus, a mathematics Professor at Columbia University, in New York City, who has argued that the University has submitted misleading data to the US News ranking of the country’s best universities.

Specifically, he has charged that Columbia has manipulated the scores for class sizes, number of faculty with terminal degrees, percentage of faculty who are full time, student-faculty ratio, spending on instruction, and graduation rates.  As a result, Columbia has risen dramatically from 18th place in 1988 to being ranked joint second in the list of national universities in America’s Best Colleges along with Harvard and MIT

The university has responded to each of the charges.  It has asserted, for example, that the class size data used by Thaddeus was not derived from official enrolment records.  It has also argued that its rise since 1988 is not so remarkable as part of it was the result of methodological changes in 1988-89.

For its part, the US News has said that it is the responsibility of universities to submit accurate data.   It is, however, likely that there will be further debate university rankings, especially about the role of data submitted by institutions.



New York Times

An Investigation of the Facts Behind Columbia’s U.S. News Ranking










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