Harvard University topped the second annual U.S. colleges rankings published in The Wall Street Journal from Times Higher Education, but the “conservative Harvard” was once again excluded.
The Journal published on Sept. 27 a 10-page section with a list of private and public colleges and universities ranked by THE, a London-based organization that analyzes higher education data, based on college resources, academic engagement, graduate outcomes, and campus diversity. THE did not include Hillsdale College because it does not receive federal funds, according to a THE representative from the U.S. rankings team.
The THE representative did not return request from additional explanation.
“Being a Title IV recipient seems irrelevant to the question of an institution’s educational quality,” Provost David Whalen said in an email. “If anything, it works against quality.”
In an article explaining the purpose of the rankings, WSJ editor Dave Pettit said the list’s criteria is based upon “schools that offer excellence, foster intellectual development, provide engaging teaching and leave graduation on a firm financial footing.”
THE used data on colleges from the U.S. Education Department’s College Scorecard, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, and Federal Student Aid center. Although IPEDS added Hillsdale to its database in 2015 when it agreed to accept information the college voluntarily submitted to the system, Hillsdale remains absent from the FSA center and the College Scorecard, a searchable platform with information on American colleges and universities, because Hillsdale does not receive federal money.
A THE representative previously told The Collegian it uses these resources because they are the only publicly available databases with information such as graduates’ earnings and debt repayment. Salaries earned after college account for 12 percent and former students’ ability to repay loans account for 7 percent of a school’s total score.
“Title IV has become so much a part of the background that organizations tend to take it for granted,” Whalen said. “This is another example of the insidious way an erstwhile private activity effectively becomes a government operation.”
Even without federal loan repayment, Hillsdale still lacks data THE included in the rankings, including graduates’ salaries and student and faculty racial information. These make it difficult for the college to determine where Hillsdale would fall in the list, Director of Institutional Research George Allen said.
Although the Journal and THE did not rank Hillsdale, the school has consistently placed among the top liberal arts colleges in the country in other postsecondary education rankings.
Colleges rankings and databases provide the opportunity for prospective students and their parents to get an introduction to Hillsdale, so the college is working to have Hillsdale included in the College Scorecard, Whalen said.
“The college has communicated with the Department of Education about several matters, including the Scorecard,” he said. “It is too early to say how these communications will turn out.”