Harvard Medical School will no longer submit data to U.S. News & World Report to be used in the “best medical schools” survey and rankings, the school said Tuesday.
In a letter announcing the medical school would withdraw from the survey, George Q. Daley, dean of the Faculty of Medicine, said rankings “cannot meaningfully reflect the high aspirations for educational excellence, graduate preparedness, and compassionate and equitable patient care that we strive to foster in our medical education programs.”
Daley’s statement comes on the heels of the November withdrawal of Harvard and Yale law schools from the U.S. News & World Report rankings. At that time, the universities released statements criticizing the magazine’s ranking methodology that, they said, ignores the core values of the legal profession, according to a previous Globe report.
The withdrawal of Harvard Law School from the rankings galvanized Daley and Harvard Medical School to do the same, he said in the announcement.
The move is just the latest example of an elite program devaluing the role of the rankings, which for years have influenced decision-making among prospective students. A growing number of academic leaders, like Daley, claim such rankings provide an incomplete picture of institutions and can even impede schools from fostering high-quality education.
Each year, US News & World Report ranks a variety of institutions and resources, ranging from education and finance to health and cars, based on certain criteria. In the letter to the Harvard Medical School community, Daley said the criteria are too rigid and fail to help students determine the suitability of schools.
The dean also cited “unintended consequences” of the rankings, claiming they “create perverse incentives for institutions to report misleading or inaccurate data, set policies to boost rankings rather than nobler objectives, or divert financial aid from students with financial need to high-scoring students with means in order to maximize ranking criteria.”
Daley continued: “Ultimately, the suitability of any particular medical school for any given student is too complex, nuanced, and individualized to be served by a rigid ranked list, no matter the methodology,” Daley said in the announcement.
He also recognized the importance of transparency and the availability of data so students can determine if Harvard is a good fit for them. In light of this, Daley said “key information” such as average GPAs, test scores, class sizes, financial aid packages, and demographics are available on the school’s admissions page. Should students want to compare Harvard’s data with other institutions, they can do so using Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) Reports for Applicants and Advisors, according to the letter.
“What matters most to me as dean, alumnus, and faculty member is not a #1 ranking, but the quality and richness of the educational experience we provide at Harvard Medical School that encourages personal growth and lifelong learning,” Daley said in the announcement.
U.S. News & World report ranked Harvard Medical School No. 1 in the country for research and No. 9 for primary care.