To the Editor:
In “New Rankings Paint a False Picture of Arab Universities” (The Chronicle, March 30), thank you for clarifying that U.S. News will continue to develop the Best Arab Region Universities methodology. As described here, U.S. News is bringing to the Arab region university community the same depth of study that has become important to parents, students, and policymakers in the U.S., using our experience of publishing the Best Colleges rankings in the U.S. for more than 30 years.
The inaugural Best Arab Region Universities rankings, which we believe are the largest and most comprehensive academic research-based rankings of institutions in the region ever published, are needed since global university rankings typically include very few Arab region schools. The methodology and ranking factors used in our 1.0 version of the rankings were tailored specifically to the region, allowing for comparisons between institutions.
In the future, U.S. News will continue to keep the region’s general public and higher-education community in mind as we collaborate with institutions and officials to create an Arab university classification system, as well as provide standardized, transparent, and comparable information about their institutions. For example, in the upcoming 2016 edition of the Best Arab Region Universities rankings, U.S. News plans to include other ranking factors, including separate reputation surveys of Arab region academics and employers. These two reputation surveys will ask Arab region academics to rate each other’s schools and will ask employers in the Arab region to rate which schools are producing graduates that are most employable.
In future editions, U.S. News will add separate statistical surveys, which will ask Arab region universities for statistical, school-level data — the same kind of data U.S. News collects on its Best Colleges surveys such as enrollment, faculty, graduation and retention rates. Gathering these data will be an important step toward providing Arab region students with a more comprehensive understanding of their university options.
Chief Data Strategist, U.S. News & World Report