Bard College the latest institution to spurn U.S. News undergraduate rankings


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Dive Brief:

  • Bard College on Thursday became the latest institution to announce it would end cooperation with U.S. News & World Report’s undergraduate rankings, saying they are “based on flawed and irrelevant metrics.”
  • Leon Botstein, president of the private nonprofit liberal arts institution in New York, said in a statement he wrongly thought the rankings would not be taken seriously when they began. But now, the higher education sector has “allowed teaching and scholarship in America to be driven by a magazine,” he said.
  • Bard called on other colleges, particularly liberal arts institutions, to renounce the rankings. 

Dive Insight:

Bard’s rejection of the rankings represents another domino falling in the boycott against the U.S. News system. The Rhode Island School of Design and Colorado College in February also turned away from the Best Colleges undergraduate rankings.

The rankings exodus began, however, with a contingent of law schools in November,  followed by medical schools in January. Most of the colleges dumping the rankings have cited equity concerns.

Eric Gertler, chair and CEO of U.S. News, said in an emailed statement Thursday that comparing diverse academic institutions can prove challenging and that rankings should be one component in college decision making. 

Gertler defended the rankings more at length in an essay last week, writing that the “elite” colleges snubbing them “don’t want to be held accountable by an independent third party.”

Botstein, the Bard president, said Thursday it is time to acknowledge how the rankings have harmed education. 

“The rankings game has undermined the idealism about the link between higher education and democracy in a time of peril to the political freedom without which higher education cannot thrive,” Botstein said. 

Bard is a moderately selective institution, accepting 60% of its applicants for fall 2021, according to the latest federal data. It enrolled about 2,590 students that term, mostly undergraduates.


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