Decline in endowments may affect best colleges rankings

The value of college endowments, which had rebounded following the recession, declined slightly despite a recovering stock market, U.S. News reports. This finding comes from the newly released 2012 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments, produced by the National Association of College and University Business Officers. It turns out that 2012 was a sub-par year for the performance of college endowments. According to the study, the endowments of the 831 institutions surveyed had an average decline of 0.3 percent in the year ending June 30, 2012. This is down sharply from the previous year’s average gain of 19.2 percent and well below 2010’s gain of 11.9 percent, but better than the 18.7 percent decline for endowments that occurred during the recession in 2009. In terms of the methodology used to calculate the U.S. News Best Colleges rankings, the absolute size and annual performance of a college’s endowment are not direct factors in the rankings…

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NACAC issues first report on Best Colleges rankings

The National Association for College Admission Counseling surveyed its members on attitudes toward U.S. News’s Best Colleges rankings; recently the NACAC/U.S. News & World Report Ad Hoc Committee issued its first report on the survey, reports U.S. News & World Report. NACAC conducted the survey in May 2010. It asked various questions designed to measure the opinions among admission professionals at colleges, high schools, and independent counselors toward the Best Colleges rankings.The report contains an important disclaimer in terms of what role U.S. News played in the survey and the preparation of the report. The report says:

“…for purposes of this report, the term “Committee” refers only to the NACAC members who serve on the Ad Hoc Committee. Representatives of U.S. News & World Report meet with the Ad Hoc Committee to ensure an open dialogue with the association, but their views are not represented in this report.”

Highlights from the report include:…Read More

Questionable science behind academic rankings

For institutions that regularly make the Top 10, the autumn announcement of university rankings is an occasion for quiet self-congratulation, reports the New York Times. When Cambridge beat Harvard for the No. 1 spot in the QS World University Rankings this September, Cambridge put out a press release. When Harvard topped the Times Higher Education list two weeks later, it was Harvard’s turn to gloat. But the news that Alexandria University in Egypt had placed 147th on the list — just below the University of Birmingham and ahead of such academic powerhouses as Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands (151st) or Georgetown in the United States (164th)–was cause for both celebration and puzzlement. Alexandria’s Web site was quick to boast of its newfound status as the only Arab university among the top 200. Ann Mroz, editor of Times Higher Education magazine, issued a statement congratulating the Egyptian university, adding “any institution that makes it into this table is truly world class.”

But researchers who looked behind the headlines noticed that the list also ranked Alexandria fourth in the world in a subcategory that weighed the impact of a university’s research–behind only Caltech, M.I.T. and Princeton, and ahead of both Harvard and Stanford…

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