Times Higher Education (THE) today (June 29) announced that it will team up with The Wall Street Journal to publish yet another set of rankings on MBA programs and specialty master’s programs in finance and management.
The British weekly magazine, which claims a readership of 380,000, will join an already crowded field of media players to publish its first rankings in the spring of 2018 after what it called “extensive consultation with master’s students, alumni and business schools across the world.” Though little known in North America, the publication’s partnership with The Wall Street Journal, which once ranked MBA programs on its own, will guarantee that the new lists gain significant notice and potential clout.
The new rankings come at a time when more business school deans and research faculty are taking issue with the controversial lists. Only last month, deans and faculty from more than 20 universities signed on to a critical paper on rankings published in Decision Sciences Journal, a scholarly journal read mostly by academics. They argued that rankings are misleading and disingenuous. Rather than “acquiesce to methods of comparison we know to be fundamentally misleading,” the administrators encouraged their peers at other schools to stop participating in a process they say rates programs on a narrow set of criteria (see A New Rankings Revolt In The Making?)
Times Higher Education, moreover, is entering the business school market 30 years after Businessweek published its first MBA ranking and 19 years after the debut of the global MBA ranking from The Financial Times. The proliferation of rankings, fueled by consumer interest in them, has largely diminished the influence any one ranking has on the market. But the WSJ has an average paid print circulation of 2.2 million which will give the new lists widespread exposure.
NOT NEW TO THE RANKINGS GAME THOUGH LITTLE KNOWN IN THE U.S.
While the publication has yet to decide on a methodology, it will follow the lead of Bloomberg Businessweek, The Financial Times, The Economist and Forbes in surveying recent business school graduates. It also will, like U.S. News and Businessweek, survey employers. Also like the FT and The Economist, the publication will produce a unified global list rather than separate U.S. and international rankings as Businessweek and Forbes do.
The publication is not new to the rankings game. THE has published the World University Rankings since 2004, 21 years after U.S. News & World Report began to rank universities and colleges in the U.S. and six years after Businessweek launched the first regularly published MBA rankings. THE now ranks more than 1,000 of the world’s leading research-intensive universities from 70 countries, against 13 performance indicators.
For its business school rankings, data collection will begin on Aug. 28 run through Oct. 6, with the alumni and employer surveys going out on the Aug. 28th start date. The publication said that its “rankings calculation process” will be audited by PwC owards the end of 2017, with a goal to publish the first rankings early in 2018.
PLANS TO RATE PROGRAMS ON ENGAGEMENT, ENVIRONMENT, RESOURCES & OUTCOMES
While the editors of Times Higher Education plan to seek the advice of business school administrators, the publication did offer an outline of what it intends to measure. The publication said its ranking will be based on “four pillars:” resources, outcomes, engagement and environment.
The engagement metric will assess “how much students have been intellectually engaged and challenged by their teaching, how they applied their learning to the real world, as well as examining key questions such as the quality of their interaction with staff and whether they would recommend their course to others.”
The environment pillar will measure the diversity and inclusiveness of the school’s environment, and the resources pillar will focus on the resources available to the students at each school: staff numbers and quality, career support, and cohort level.
A final outcomes metric pillar will attempt to quantify “the value of the professional network students are introduced to, their employment opportunities and career success, and the school’s contribution to social good. The publication added that its survey of employers will add a further dimension to give their view on how well business schools educate future business leaders.