Columbia University dropped to No. 18 on the new US News Best Colleges list — after admitting it had previously incorrectly reported some data used in the publication’s popular ranking.

The Ivy League school — which had previously come in at No. 2 after Princeton University — said it overstated how many small classes it had and its number of faculty with a PhD or other terminal degree after relying on “outdated and/or incorrect methodologies.”

“Anything less than complete accuracy in the data that we report — regardless of the size or the reason — is inconsistent with the standards of excellence to which Columbia holds itself,” Provost Mary Boyce said in a statement Friday.

“We deeply regret the deficiencies in our prior reporting and are committed to doing better.”

Boyce maintained that, “The Columbia undergraduate experience is and always has been centered around small classes taught by highly accomplished faculty. That fact is unchanged.”

The admission came after a Columbia faculty member raised questions about the accuracy of data the Upper Manhattan school submitted to US News for its ranking of undergraduate universities in 2021.

Math professor Michael Thaddeus in February blasted several key figures contributing to Columbia’s high ranking as “inaccurate, dubious, or highly misleading.”

Butler Library, Columbia University.
Columbia University dropped to No. 18 after being listed as No. 2.
Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

In his post, Thaddeus said Columbia had submitted to the US News ranking that 83% of its undergrad classes had fewer than 20 students enrolled.

But according to new figures from the university, 57% had enrollments under 20 students in fall 2021.

Columbia also previously claimed all faculty members had PhDs or other terminal degrees, according to Thaddeus — when 95.3% of instructors actually had such a distinction, school officials said last week.

Mary Boyce.
“We deeply regret the deficiencies in our prior reporting and are committed to doing better,” Provost Mary Boyce said.
Erik Thomas

Columbia announced in June that it would not submit data to the undergraduate rankings for this year.

US News had moved the school to “unranked” from the No. 2 spot on last year’s list, where Columbia had been tied with Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

MIT now ranks No. 2 out of 443 national universities, with Princeton still in No. 1 and Harvard, Stanford and Yale tied for No. 3 on the recently revealed list.

While Columbia will continue to refine and review the data collection, Boyce said, “so many aspects of a Columbia education cannot be measured” by ranking metrics.

Also on Friday, the university posted reports for the Common Data Set, standardized data that schools can voluntarily publish on indicators from student enrollment to graduation rates — intended “to provide a useful array of data to prospective undergraduates to assist in their college admissions journey,” Boyce said.

The US News & World Report did not return a request for comment Monday.



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