I’m a former math professor who has been observing the corrupt system of American higher education for decades. Even though I have little regard for this mainly corrupt and fraudulent system, I find that your rankings don’t help at all. Unfortunately, they are misleading – something very disappointing since your issue on higher education was deeply insightful.
Here, in a glaring way, is an example why your rankings are so misleading.
From my own compilation of data sources, I find the following discrepancies. (Links to data, and some of my own rankings are on my blog inside-higher-ed.com .)
Among highly selective schools, Caltech, Rice and Carnegie Mellon rank 1st, 9th and 15th in value added, according to a Brookings study.
In my own analysis of schools whose science and engineering undergraduates go on to get a PhD, Caltech ranks 26th, Rice 35th and Carnegie Mellon 48th – even though most engineering graduates don’t go on for a PhD.
Finally, I know something about these schools personally, especially their intro math courses. Just from this, I find your rankings questionable. That is because the way those courses are taught are reflective of a university’s attitude toward their students. Are they seen as “customers” or young people in need of a good education.
I hope The Economist, with its usual outstanding reporting, will correct this ranking.