A few weeks back, we reported that Columbia University — in a dramatic turn of events after one of its own math professors questioned the accuracy of its standing in the all-important US News & World Report annual college ranking — had been quietly removed from the 2022 list. Additionally, the Morningside Heights, Manhattan-based institution announced that it would not participate in the 2023 ranking. In doing so, Columbia became the most prestigious school in history not to participate in the annual ranking — and surely it wasn’t by choice. Whether the misreporting of data to the publication was an honest error or whether it was a nefarious move, we can assure our readers that Columbia is not trying to boldly take a stand against the US News ranking. The school needed some time to get its act together and save some face.
But while the Ivy League institution takes the prize as the most prestigious university to ever get caught misreporting data to US News, it may surprise our readers to know that other institutions misreported data to US News this year. That’s right. Columbia isn’t alone. Nine other institutions that we know of misreported data for the 2022 ranking. Of these schools, the only one that happens to be highly selective is Villanova University. As Susan Snyder reports for The Philadelphia Inquirer in a piece entitled “Villanova is removed from U.S. News’ Best Value list after reporting data error,” “Villanova University was knocked off of U.S. News and World Report’s Best Value ranking after the school reported it had supplied incorrect information. The university initially reported the average 2021 need-based grant it awarded to students as $51,739; the correct amount is $40,323. The grant is used in three ranking indicators that account for 80% of the Best Value ranking, according to U.S. News. Villanova was moved into the ‘unranked’ category as a result. The error, however, did not affect the university’s ranking as the 49th best national university. The need-based grant is not used to calculate that ranking.”
So while Villanova misreported data, unlike for Columbia, the erroneously reported data didn’t impact its national ranking. That being said, we imagine administrators at Villanova will be more circumspect in the data they share with US News for the 2023 ranking. After all, the school wouldn’t want to find itself unranked in next year’s best national university ranking list. It was enough to lose Villanova men’s basketball coach Jay Wright to retirement this past year. The university just can’t take such another big hit so quickly.
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