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Harvard Medical School announces withdrawal from U.S. News & World Report rankings

Harvard University Medical School is withdrawing from U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings of top medical schools in the country based on “philosophical” issues with the list. 

Dean George Daley said in a message to members of the medical school community on Tuesday that he recognizes the issues educational leaders have had with the methodology that the rankings use to evaluate schools, but the decision is based on the “principled belief that 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.” 

He said rankings create “perverse” incentives for academic institutions to report misleading or inaccurate data, set policies designed to raise their rankings instead of other objectives and divert financial aid toward high-performing students instead of those with a financial need. 

“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. 

The decision comes as U.S. News & World Report has faced criticism from several academic institutions, including Harvard Law School, over its system of ranking universities’ programs. 

Harvard and Yale’s law schools both announced in November that they would end their participation in the rankings. They attacked the rankings’ methodology, noting that it includes how much debt students have, and said it disincentivizes providing need-based financial aid.

A few other law schools have joined them in withdrawing from the rankings.

U.S. News said earlier this month that it will make changes to how it ranks law schools, including placing less emphasis on peer assessment reviews and more on schools offering fellowships to students pursuing public service. 

U.S. News Executive Chairman and CEO Eric Gertler has said the rankings are intended to help students make the “best decision” for where to attend law school. 

But Daley said his priority is not to receive a top ranking but to focus on the “quality and richness of the educational experience” at the medical school, encouraging personal growth and “lifelong learning.” 

He said the “bold and courageous” moves from the dean of Harvard’s law school and peer law schools led him to take this action in ending the medical school’s participation in the rankings. 

He said the school will continue to publicly share key information about itself on its admissions website in the interest of transparency and accountability. He noted that applicants can compare schools’ data in a “raw, unweighted form” on the Association of American Medical Colleges website. 

“We trust these resources will prove valuable for students as they make thoughtful and meaningful decisions about which medical school is the best fit for them,” Daley said.

Tags Harvard University medical school rankings U.S. News and World Report

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