University Rankings Time: Not About Quality or Equity
This is the time universities release news about how they rank worldwide, nationwide, statewide, and citywide. There are all sort of rankings and universities, colleges, and schools. In at least one ranking almost university or college has a place. Examples abound, in some campuses, administrators are proud of a ranking that reflects what goes on in another campus of a large university. Administrators, faculty, students, graduates, and others, share proudly the ranking that favors their institution prestige. Everyone has something to say about it, show their pride, let faculty senates know where we are or where we will be next year, or the next decade, or whenever. It puts every institution on a race to build a new shiny building, attract the top SAT students (the wealthier students), etc. while also writing mission statements that are all about equity, justice, community, etc…
University rankings are easily manipulable and don’t necessarily reflect academic or faculty quality. The rankings reflect the views of deans and chancellors and their reporting of money spent, but not the significance or impact of the research, or the depth of ideas.
Moreover, these rankings deepen the inequality among universities and colleges.
Be aware, when you proudly share belonging or graduated from some university highly ranked, what you are doing is to uncritically add to the buzz of a carefully orchestrated marketing strategy. Highlighting an institution success in ranking high or worrying about being low in a list hides the corporate mentality that has taken over universities and colleges.
Feel proud of what you can do with the education you got and the impact it has had in your life and that of your community. Rankings are a poor measure of quality and the dominance of the assumption that “bigger is better” that many uncritically embrace.