Yale and Harvard law schools avoid influential rankings

Two of America’s most prestigious law schools have withdrawn from the influential US News & World Report ranking system, damaging the credibility of a tool widely used by prospective students, alumni and recruiters.

Explaining their respective decisions, Yale and Harvard said the assessment — by focusing on test scores and not reflecting financial aid — undermines their efforts to admit students from low-income backgrounds to training. and pursue careers in public service.

Heather Gerken, dean of Yale Law School – which has consistently been among the top-ranked schools since the lists began in 1990 – called them “deeply flawed” in a blog post and added: “They discourage programs that support public interest careers, champion need-based aid and welcome working-class students into the profession.

John Manning, dean of Harvard Law School, wrote that the rankings “run counter to law school commitments to improve the socioeconomic diversity of our classrooms; to allocate financial aid to students according to their needs; and, through the repayment of public interest loans and grants, to support graduates interested in careers serving the public interest”.

The boycotts will put new pressure on US News, once a print news magazine that has increasingly focused in recent years on online rankings ranging from education and health care to mutual funds, travel destinations and used car sales.

Its education rankings are widely read by those applying for bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the United States, and are considered a powerful marketing tool by many universities seeking to attract applicants.

Their influence is so great – and the pressure on education officials to perform well in the rankings – that a number of universities and colleges have been investigated for manipulations in order to perform well.

Moshe Porat, the dean of Temple University’s Richard J Fox School of Business and Management until 2018, was sentenced this year to 14 months in prison and fined $250,000 after being convicted of fraud for inflating his performance.

Columbia University said in June it would not participate in the undergraduate rankings after one of its math professors criticized the way it flattered class sizes, expenses and faculty training levels. .

Wider criticisms of the rankings are that many of the data points used measure “inputs”, such as number of applicants per place and test scores, rather than results for students. A large proportion of the weightings also come from a subjective survey that asks schools to rate their rivals.

Gerken told the Financial Times that she supports transparency and is interested in alternative rankings, but has committed to a “holistic admissions” policy not focused on test scores – in which wealthier and more framed applicants tend to perform better. She said a quarter of her students were now the first generation to attend university and 10% lived below the poverty line.

“This generation inherits impossible problems, so we need to get all the great minds around the table to try to solve them.”

In an emailed statement to the FT, Eric Gertler, Executive Chairman and Managing Director of US News, said: “We will continue to fulfill our journalistic mission to ensure that students can count on the best and most reliable information. accurate in making this decision. . . We must continue to ensure that law schools are held accountable for the education they will provide to these students and that the mission does not change with this recent announcement.

The FT ranks business schools, including a number in the United States. Among the factors considered are alumni salaries, satisfaction and value for money, and diversity of faculty and students.

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