Times Higher Education has announced plans for a new and pioneering college ranking for America – underpinned by the launch this week of a major national student engagement survey.
The US college ranking, due for publication in September 2016, has been developed after a year of consultation by THE’s senior data and editorial teams with key US sector bodies and experts, which concluded that the current range of university and college rankings in the US are not fit for purpose.
The new ranking will put student learning at its heart, with a focus on student outcomes – including completion and employment – and with unique features examining the value added by colleges. It will draw significantly on an entirely new national survey capturing student engagement.
A second phase of consultation launches this week in the US, at the Association of Institutional Research Forum in New Orleans, and at Nafsa, the Association of International Educators, in Denver. THE’s plans will be discussed in a series of meetings and via an online poll.
Phil Baty, editor of the THE World University Rankings, said: “Times Higher Education has served universities and colleges with news, analysis, insight and data for five decades now, and we were pioneers with global university rankings back in 2004.
“Now, after a major investment in our data team, we believe we are ready to provide innovative new metrics that will dramatically enhance the information available to students wishing to study in the US, and help US institutions achieve due credit for the contributions they make to students’ learning and to their lives after graduation.
“There is a clear need for a different type of US ranking system. Too often US universities are judged by how selective they are in admissions, or on their institutional wealth. Our intention is to level the playing field and get a clear view of performance in a much wider range of institutions from across the rich and diverse US higher education landscape.”
The ranking will draw on a range of data sources, including the US Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), managed by the US National Center for Education Statistics, and the US Department of Education’s College Scorecard. But importantly, it will also feature unique data gathered by THE.
The primary new source will be the Times Higher Education Student Survey, which will gather student views on about 1,000 institutions. The survey will focus on capturing students’ engagement with their learning and value for money.
Duncan Ross, THE’s director of data and analytics, said: “We have launched one of the most wide-ranging national student engagement surveys ever undertaken. This research will ask students across the US for their opinions on the effectiveness and value of their education. By exploring these in a focused, concise way, we will be able to see much more about the impact of college on students.
“We think the opinion of students is too important to hide, so for the first time this type of information will be put into the public domain. By making the results available to prospective students, and to colleges themselves, people will gain new insights into how different universities compare.”
Trevor Barratt, managing director at THE, said: “Our business has undergone a dramatic transformation in the past two years – we have put a very large investment into data: building a team of data analysts and scientists. The investment has allowed us to break new ground in the field of university performance metrics and analytical tools.
“This major new investment in the US, backed by the opening of our Chicago office last year, is a central part of our transformation into a global data business.”
Have your say and help us improve US college rankings: take our quick online poll
Shape the methodology: join our webinar on 30 June to hear about the planned methodology in detail, and give us your feedback