Phi Beta Cons

Rankings Mania Hits Florida

This New York Times article details the mania that has hit the University of Florida (or its president, at least) for improving its US News ranking.  The president, J. Bernard Machen, says that U of F needs to become a top-10 university “so our kids can get the same education they would get at Harvard or Yale.”
The trouble is that there is no way of knowing that Harvard or Yale students actually get a better education than do Florida students. Furthermore, doing all the costly things that boost a school’s US News ranking have almost nothing to do with what goes on in the classroom.
Among other problems Machen has discovered, Florida enrolls too many students from wealthy families. “We want to be a mirror of society,” he pleads.
Like politicians, university presidents largely concern themselves with tangential if not entirely irrelevant matters in an effort to appear “engaged.”

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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