Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Jump on board a new kind of college rankings

Mention the U.S. News & World Report rankings around GW’s campus, and you’re likely to get an eye roll.

The leader in U.S. college rankings not only kicked the University out of its top universities list last fall, but has taken hits for relying on questionable metrics (mostly input measures, like spending on teaching).

But a new system could better measure GW’s global stature.

U-Multirank is a new global university ranking system, publicly funded by the European Commission. It compares universities from across the world by sorting the data in a way that is manageable for specific interests, like pulling out colleges’ performance in research, internationalization, and teaching and learning.

It evaluates schools using more extensive metrics, including everything from interdisciplinary research publications to opportunities to study abroad. U-Multirank piloted with 159 universities in 2011, and now has about 700 universities participating in the first rankings, set to be published in 2014.

Only 13 U.S. colleges are participating. A GW spokeswoman said the University would not opt in next year, but could in the future.

If GW opted into U-Multirank, the University could truly show off its competitiveness across the world. Top officials from across GW have jetted across the world, especially to China, recently to raise money, start programs and enhance GW’s reputation. It is positioning itself for the global stage.

Alex Usher, the president of the Toronto-based Higher Education Strategy Associates, wrote on his blog that he supports the rankings: “This is a good faith effort to improve rankings; failure to support it means losing your moral right to kvetch about rankings ever again.”

GW officials – and their propensity to kvetch about rankings – should take note.

This is as close to a clean slate GW will get after the unranking debacle. The new U.S. News rankings will be published in mid-September – but GW is likely to stay just out of the top 50 colleges again after over a decade of ranking stagnation.

U-Multirank is still in its nascency. But with experts and administrators criticizing rankings as a subjective game – it might be better to play a game where we actually have a chance to win.

The writer, a junior majoring in English and creative writing, is The Hatchet’s contributing opinions editor.

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