US News changes ranking methodology | This Week in Admissions News

26/05/20235 minute read
US News changes ranking methodology | This Week in Admissions News
The world of college admissions is ever-changing and for students with top university ambitions, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest developments. This week, US News announced significant changes to its ranking methodology for 2024. There will be more focus on diversity even as affirmative action seems to be on its way out. Check back next week to see what’s new and noteworthy in university admissions!

US News changes ranking methodology as affirmative action debate continues

After receiving severe criticism for its graduate school rankings, US News announced that it will be changing the methodology for its 2024 college rankings. The most significant change is to emphasize the success of diversity students, while reducing the impact of alumni giving and class size. It will be interesting to see how the diversity rankings then get affected as the Supreme Court could abolish affirmative action in college admissions in a verdict at the end of June.

The 2024 Best Colleges rankings, set to be released in the fall, will feature more emphasis on a school’s “success in graduating students from different backgrounds,” the company said. In addition, the methodology will remove metrics on alumni giving, faculty with the highest degrees in their fields, class size and high school standing of the entering class. Those will be included in school profiles but not in the rankings themselves.

“With college costs soaring, we want to ensure the educational resources we provide emphasize the outcomes for graduates of the schools in our rankings,” said Eric Gertler, executive chairman and CEO of U.S. News. “This, in conjunction with the other outcomes-focused measures we are adopting, will further support a student’s decision-making process when they are making one of the most important decisions of their lives.”

The rankings have faced a variety of challenges in the past year with top colleges boycotting the graduate school edition and refusing to submit data. Once released the latest round of rankings also faced severe backlash. 

One of the biggest criticisms by universities was that US News did not put enough emphasis on student diversity. While the new methodology aims to remedy this, it remains to be seen how the verdict on affirmative action will affect this.

The US Supreme Court is expected to give a verdict in two landmark cases at the end of June. It is expected that the verdict will prevent affirmative action for college admissions and universities are already planning contingencies for such a scenario, Reuters has reported. Colleges are urgently trying to maintain or increase racial and ethnic diversity in their student populations. 

Affirmative action refers to policies that favor people belonging to certain groups considered disadvantaged or subject to discrimination, in areas such as hiring and student admissions. Administrators said they are drafting strategies to expand their recruitment of diverse applicants, remove application barriers and increase the rate of minority students who accept their admissions offers. These policies could of course change based on the verdict.

Other top stories in admissions news this week:

  1. Against a backdrop of rising application numbers in recent years, Columbia College and the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science have decided to discontinue their alumni interview program for individuals seeking admission. The decision, which takes effect this fall for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle, was made to ensure that all candidates have the same opportunity to connect with and learn about Columbia through the application process.
  2. International students who come to the UK will no longer be able to bring family with them except under specific circumstances in a government bid to bring immigration down, Sky News has reported. Only those on postgraduate courses that are currently designated as research programmes can bring dependents. The package will also remove the ability for international students to switch out of the student route and into work routes before their studies have been completed.
  3. Undergraduate enrollment for the spring of 2023 remained stable from a year ago, according to new data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Undergraduate enrollment fell 0.2 percent, or 25,000 students, this spring compared to a year ago. “We’re stabilizing at a level that’s still far below where we were before the pandemic,” said Doug Shapiro, executive director of the Center. The total number of undergraduates is nearly 1.2 million fewer than there were in the spring of 2020.
  4. England’s higher education regulator has warned universities against over-reliance on tuition fees of students from China, the Guardian has reported. The Office for Students (OfS) wrote to 23 universities with high numbers of Chinese students to see their contingency planning in case of a sudden interruption to overseas recruitment. Universities have become increasingly dependent on international students as part of their business models because of the significantly higher fees they can charge, which offset the decreasing value of domestic tuition fees that have gone up little since they were introduced in 2012. China is of particular concern because it sends more students to study in the UK than any other country. Twenty-seven per cent of all non-EU students in UK higher education institutions, or 151,690 pupils, were from China in 2021/22. University College London and Manchester University recruited the highest numbers.
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