Just about the last of this year’s MBA rankings will make its appearance on Dec. 6 when Times Higher Education (THE) will unveil its long-awaited debut list of the best global programs. Two days later on Dec. 8, the Wall Street Journal, THE’s partner in this rankings venture, will then publish its U.S.-focused version of the data.
Though many of the most prominent business schools refused to cooperate with the rankings project, the British publication plans to unveil four separate B-school lists on two-year MBAs, one-year MBAs, Masters in Finance, and Masters in Management.
To come up with those lists have been a painfully delayed process that involved a good bit of lobbying to get business schools to cooperate. It was 18 months ago when Times Higher Educaiton first announced it would team up with the Wall Street Journal to publish yet another set of rankings. The hope was to produce the first lists last spring, but as more and more schools declined to cooperate with the project, the debut ranking became further and further delayed. Publication had been expected in the fall, then November, and now spilled into December.
HARVARD, WHARTON, MIT, KELLOGG, COLUMBIA, LONDON, UCLA & UNC OPTED OUT
What those rankings will look like is anyone’s guess. As previously reported by Poets&Quants, Harvard Business School, Wharton, London Business School, MIT Sloan, Northwestern Kellogg, Columbia Business School, UCLA’s Anderson School and UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School are among just some of the prestige players who have decided not to participate in the ranking (see Many Top Schools Bow Out Of New MBA Ranking).
Their absence will make this ranking incomplete at best and less credible. But it probably won’t prevent the participating schools from publishing news releases trumpeting their higher ranks due to the lack of some of the world’s best MBA programs and a different methodology(see How The WSJ Plans To Rank MBA Programs).
According to an email obtained by Poets&Quants, the business school rankings project will be based on more than 23,300 alumni survey responses, with 115 business schools eligible to be included in the project’s data listings. Some 134 business schools participated in project.
MANY BUSINESS SCHOOL DEANS ARE SAYING ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
This new ranking comes at a time when more business school deans and research faculty are taking issue with the controversial lists. Academics often argue that rankings are misleading and disingenuous. Times Higher Education, moreover, is entering the business school market 30 years after Businessweek published its first MBA ranking in 1988 and 20 years after the debut of the global MBA ranking from The Financial Times. Businessweek, by the way, will publish its first full global ranking on Dec. 11, after already released its U.S. list (see Stanford Tops Businessweek’s New Modernized Ranking).
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 list widespread exposure.
Matt Turner, who closely follows rankings as a market researcher at UT’s McCombs School, believes that many schools are sitting our the ranking due to uncertainty about the methodology. “THE / WSJ hadn’t completely pinned down their methodology when they launched the data collection, reserving the right to tweak this or that depending on the data they received,” notes Turner. “This practice is not uncommon, especially with new rankings, but it always raises eyebrows among administrators. Sitting out the first survey to see how the ranking shakes out is not necessarily a bad strategy.
THE SAYS IT HAS COMPILED ‘A UNIQUE SET OF PERFORMANCE DATA FROM BUSINESS SCHOOLS’
“If the published list of schools looks odd, then it seems prudent not to have participated, and if the list looks solid, schools can simply say they wanted to make sure first and they’ll participate next time. I suspect this strategy works particularly well for elite programs. Their absence from a ranking is not going to hurt their reputation, but their presence with a low rank might — or, at least require some explaining.”
In an email to participating schools, THE Chief Knowledge Officer Phil Baty said the British publication has been able to “compile a unique set of performance data from business schools around the world – based on metrics designed to explore teaching excellence and student experience.”
The reports, he added, will include “a range of interactive data tables, visualisations and reflective expert analysis – drawing rich expert insights into the characteristics of different institutions and courses, data insights at the subject level, as well as exploring and comparing institutions across a range of business programmes.”