- The Rhode Island School of Design announced Monday that it is withdrawing from U.S. News & World Report’s top college student rankings, saying the controversial lists do not reflect the value of its students or academic programs.
- The private, not-for-profit college, known as RISD, appears to be the first to reject the US News student list, as a contingent of law and medical schools began moving away from the rankings that covered them late last year.
- Crystal Williams, president of RISD, he said in a statement the ranking system relies on “exclusion and unfairness” and hopes other colleges will stop participating.
Observers waited to see if the three-month exodus of law and medical schools would recede from the rankings to universities to deny undergraduate version.
While rejection by dozens of medical and law schools amounts to a strike against the rankings, the iteration of Best Colleges is by far the most notable for US News. Although college groups have thought about it leaving these charts early and individual higher education institutions dropped outthey didn’t do that en masse.
Law and medical schools give various reasons for no longer working with US News, which has said it will continue to rank law schools using publicly available data. But most schools say the assessment model reinforces inequalities and penalizes institutions that want to promote public service jobs.
RISD said the US News methodology does not capture how its students learn. The college also cited a recent survey of alumni that showed most “were proud of and satisfied with their RISD education.”
“We believe these results speak to the impact and effectiveness of RISD education,” Williams said.
RISD, based in Providence, enrolls about 2,570 students, according to the most recent federal data available. Most of them are university students.
Until last year, US News included RISD on its art school-specific list, but did not rank it.
However, RISD recently changed its curriculum, which led the magazine to classify it as a regional school.
While RISD now ranks No. 3 among regional universities in the North, Williams said the college has little in common with the other institutions on the list. That was the catalyst for RISD to reconsider its participation in the rankings and the criteria used to create them, she said.
“Many of these criteria have been written about critically and publicly challenged, and are clearly biased in favor of wealth, privilege and opportunity that are unfairly distributed,” Williams said.
While colleges often trumpet their high rankings, many administrators privately resent their admissions stranglehold. The ranking has come under scrutiny for its use of metrics, such as a survey officials fill out at partner institutions, that critics say are easy to game and have little bearing on a college’s success.
However, colleges, including those with medical or law schools that fell in the rankings, remained with the undergraduate version. Nevertheless, a select few higher education institutions have sworn off evaluation in the past. Reed College in Oregon became the first institution to turn away from the ranking in 1995. still known today.
Other recent events have eroded the ranking’s legitimacy.
A math professor at Columbia University has discovered evidence suggesting he provided US News with false data for rankings, prompting an investigation by the Ivy League institution.
And last year, the former dean of Temple University’s business school he was sentenced to 14 months in prison and a $250,000 fine for his role in the school submitting false information to boost its US News rating. The University of Southern California also dropped out of the magazine’s graduate school rankings for its Rossier School of Education after submitting incorrect data.
US News declined to comment on Tuesday. Publications argued before its medical school listings “provide students with valuable data and solutions.” It is also called revises its evaluation of law schools in response to some criticisms of law schools.