- In his interview with NJ Advance Media, the new chancellor of Rutgers University, Debasish Dutta, lists the institution's number one challenge as being the institution's ability to reflect itself accurately in national college rankings, reports NJ.com.
- Among other plans, Dutta says he wants to reform campus terminology that frames the institution in negative ways, but he won't make any promises about changing tuition yet and will not alter athletic spending rates.
- Rutgers' concerns about rankings follows on the heels of many higher education advocates criticizing the U.S. Department of Education's national ranking system, College Scorecard, as unfairly representing institutions that take in a lot of high-risk students. Dutta's concern that rankings reflect the institution poorly is part of this trend.
Many in the industry have criticized national ranking systems for hurting higher education institutions that are more inclined to take in low-income, minorities and high-risk students, as the scores are often based on rates of retention, graduation, and post-college competition statistics. When it comes to the federally run College Scorecard which began in 2015, for example, a number of community college leaders came out against the rankings for devaluing their institutions and making them less appealing in the eyes of parents choosing where to finance an education. Particularly problematic for education leaders is the idea that the scorecard might one day be tied to funding, which means the students who need the most support and greatest resources will actually get the least.
Last year, NPR profiled the business of scoring colleges, finding that groups like U.S. News & World Report's annual Best Colleges list knocked down or enhanced ratings for institutions on factors like post-graduate earnings and selectivity — but didn't emphasize factors like happiness and satisfaction. For this reason, Dutta says that Rutgers often gets ranked unfairly in such scoring systems, and his first priority to improve Rutger's public profile so that it is reflected more accurately in these national ranking series. While elite institutions will often continue to take the top spots in these products, campus leaders can try to leverage strategies like social media to show prospective enrollees that campuses are worth coming to for the broader, unreported factors like student experience.