After Law-School Revolt, Harvard Medical School Will Stop Cooperating With ‘U.S. News’ Rankings

Harvard Medical School’s dean announced on Tuesday that the institution would no longer send data to U.S. News & World Report for its annual rankings.

“As unintended consequences, rankings create perverse incentives for institutions to report misleading or inaccurate data, set policies to boost rankings rather than nobler objectives, or divert financial aid from students with financial need to high-scoring students with means in order to maximize ranking criteria,” the dean, George Q. Daley, wrote in a message to the medical-school community.

The move suggests that institutional protest of the magazine’s ubiquity in higher education may be far from over. Two months ago, deans of top-ranked law schools began announcing they would stop cooperating with U.S. News. Soon after, former deans of the University of Chicago’s School of Medicine published an op-ed in STAT that urged leaders of top medical schools to do the same. Daley wrote that the law-school protest had “compelled” him to act.

Like Daley, many of the withdrawing law deans cited concerns about how the rankings’ methodology discourages schools from accepting lower-income students. Ultimately two dozen law deans said they wouldn’t cooperate anymore, according to the New York Law Journal. After the law-school revolt, U.S. News promised changes in its methodology.

Daley was not available for an interview, but his message suggests an algorithm change may not be enough to entice him to start working with U.S. News again. “Educational leaders have long criticized the methodology used by USNWR to assess and rank medical schools,” he wrote. “However, my concerns and the perspectives I have heard from others are more philosophical than methodological.” Rankings can’t tell individual students if a school will be a good fit for them, “no matter the methodology,” he wrote.

U.S. News did not respond immediately to a request for comment. In the past, its editors have said they will continue to rank schools that don’t cooperate, using publicly available data.

U.S. News has two “Best Medical Schools” lists. Harvard ranks No. 1 on the “Best Medical Schools: Research” list and No. 9 on “Best Medical Schools: Primary Care.”

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