Sunday, June 21, 2009

Princeton No. 12 in U.S. News (world) Rankings


Princeton is the 12th best university in the world, according to
the U.S. News World's Best Colleges & Universities rankings released June 18.

Princeton was #2 (behind Harvard) in the rankings of U.S. colleges and universities that the magazine releases each August. But in this ranking of all colleges and universities around the globe, Old Nassau comes in at #12, behind Harvard, Yale, Caltech, Chicago, MIT, Columbia and Penn. Penn? Yes...Penn.

What gives, U.S. News?

These questionable rankings "enable our readers to understand more fully how well American institutions perform when compared with other institutions of higher learning around world," the news outlet says. They've determined that 25 percent of the top 400 universities in the world are found right here in the US of A.

What exactly goes in to these rankings? Scores on "Employer Review, Student to Faculty, International Faculty, International Students and Citations per Faculty." Whatever all that means.

Here's a list of the Top 20:

1. Harvard, USA
2. Yale, USA
3. University of Cambridge, UK
4. University of Oxford, UK
5. Caltech, USA
6. Imperial College London, UK
7. University College London, UK
8. University of Chicago, USA
10. Columbia, USA
11. Penn, USA
12. Princeton, USA
13. Duke University, USA
13. Johns Hopkins, USA
15. Cornell, USA
16. Australian National University, Australia
17. Stanford, USA
18. University of Michigan, USA
19. University of Tokyo, Japan
20. Mcgill University, Canada


Jordan said...

Not having a med school hurts. That generates citations, which is a fairly big part of the ranking. Also not having a big graduate program, where many international students are represented, hurts the reputation scores and the percentage of international students scores.

That said, Caltech, a much smaller school without professional schools did much better than Princeton, presumably because of the better student ratio and publication count.

Still #2 said...

For whatever reason, we're still #2 in the 2009 "national universities" rankings:

This is somehow different from the world rankings. I'm pretty sure these are the one from this year and not from last august, since they say "2009" on them.

Anonymous said...

This just goes to show how bogus these lists are. Why should the methodology differ from the US and the World lists? And then, some of the parameters seem a little suspect.

echomikeromeo said...

When will folks realize that these rankings don't actually matter?

Anonymous said...

Jordan makes great points. In fact Princeton professors do publish prodigiously and that's why Princeton beats many schools in rankings of individual departments by the number of publications per faculty member. It is the absence of large graduate school(s) that is responsible for this rank.

Anonymous said...

These are not new rankings. They are just the THES 2008 rankings, repackaged. THES is a British publication, hence the UK bias.

University College London is 7 but Stanford is 17. Peking University not too far away from UC Berkeley... No North Korean Universities broke the Top 100 but maybe next year.

Anonymous said...

It's all the studen-to-faculty ratio that screws princeton. And that has to be a function of no grad school with a lot of pure researchers running around (I am going to assume there is a pretty generous defintion of faculty given the huge numbers at places like Harvard).

The only other thing we scored lower than harvard on was employer review (don't really know what that means), but that was a 98 still.

Harvard's 07-08 factbook says they only have 2,325.3 faculty members (measured in FTEs, and it's only 1408 ladder faculty) vs. 3,788 according to U.S. news for the rankings. And

Peter said...

Two common problems with ranking algorithms are:
1. Reliance on reputational surveys -- reputation is a lagging indicator, and often inaccurate (see below).
2. Failure to normalize performance measures to size of institution (i.e., number of faculty). A bigger institution should, all things being equal, produce more research papers and grant dollars. Normalizing to size yields a better indicator of average quality.

When you control for these two factors, your list changes considerably: here is a list of public schools:

That said, I have little patience with the argument that college rankings are meaningless. Prestige does matter. Four years partying at state school is a waste, but four years partying at Yale can make you President of the United States. And parents who sink over $160000 into their kids' education deserve to know what they're getting for their money.

thanbo said...

You can look at it negatively, like "all the other schools have big grad and professional schools to pull up the faculty/student ratio", or we can look at it positively.

Think about it. Princeton is unique among all those other Top 20 - it's the only school that is primarily an undergraduate college. Dartmouth isn't on the list, nor any of the Pioneer Valley and Berkshires schools in Massachusetts - many of them top-flight private general-purpose colleges. MIT and Caltech both have 50% more postgraduate than undergraduate students.

Oxford/Cambridge are also primarily undergraduate institutions, but the British academic system is very different from the American.

So I'd say that outside of Britain, we're the premier undergraduate college in the world.

It's all in how you read the results.