‘Denial Of Merit’: Harvard Medical School Withdraws From US News Ranking

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Alexa Schwerha Contributor
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Harvard Medical School announced Tuesday it had withdrawn from the U.S. News & World Report medical school rankings due to “philosophical” concerns.

The medical school will no longer send information to U.S. News & World Report to be considered for its list of top-ranked medical schools in the United States, according to the announcement by Dr. George Q. Daley, dean of the faculty of medicine at Harvard, sent to the Daily Caller News Foundation. Critics have opposed the methodology of the rankings, which consider factors including peer assessments, residency directors assessments, test scores, acceptance rate and student grade point averages; however Daley said that his concerns with the system were philosophical. (RELATED: Yale Law School Withdraws From School Rankings List In The Name Of ‘Equity’)

“My concerns and the perspectives I have heard from others are more philosophical than methodological, and rest 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,” Daley wrote.

Harvard Medical School is currently ranked the top medical school in the country, according to the list.

“Our mission is to help prospective students make the best decisions for their educational future. Where students attend school and how they use their education are among the most critical decisions of their life, and with admissions more competitive and less transparent, and tuition increasingly expensive, we believe students deserve access to all the data and information necessary to make the right decision,” Eric Gertler, CEO and executive chairman of U.S. News, told the DCNF. “We know that comparing diverse academic institutions across a common data set is challenging, and that is why we have consistently stated that the rankings should be one component in a prospective student’s decision-making process. The fact is, millions of prospective students annually visit U.S. News medical school rankings because we provide students with valuable data and solutions to help with that process.”

Daley said that the rankings incentivize medical schools to submit false reports about its data or prioritize high-achieving students for financial aid over those with a greater financial need. Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, chairman of medical school watchdog Do No Harm, however, told the DCNF that refusal to participate in the rankings is a way to admit more students to fulfill a diversity requirement.

“The U.S. News and World Reports magazine ranking system for medical schools has long presented a problem for prestigious institutions like Harvard and Penn, where I used to teach. These medical schools desperately want to admit more students based on race, which they’ve done by lowering standards and admitting some students who didn’t take the MCAT,” he said. “They want to admit more, but the U.S. News Rankings won’t let them without rightly penalizing their ranking. Now Harvard medical school can admit whoever it wants, on whatever standards it wants, and it can still claim to be #1. Harvard just cancelled ranking systems.”

The medical school’s withdrawal from the ranking comes soon after many top law schools ended their affiliation with the system because of equity concerns, which prompted U.S. News & World to change its methodology. Rankings do not matter as much as the “quality and richness of the educational experience we provide at Harvard Medical School that encourages personal growth and lifelong learning,” Daley wrote.

Goldfarb argued that the withdrawal is “the denial of merit in the name of diversity.”

“There was a time when admission to Harvard medical school meant you had superior academic achievement,” he told the DCNF. “That is no longer true, and Harvard should be ashamed for emphasizing skin color over academic and medical excellence.”

Harvard Medical School will continue to publish information about its institution on its admission website to help students decide whether to apply, according to Daley. Information about the school is also published in the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) Reports for Applicants and Advisors.

The medical school uses a holistic approach to reviewing applications and considers an applicant’s Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) score and academic records in addition to extra-curricular, research and community service experience in healthcare. The ideal candidate shows an “aptitude for the biological and physical sciences” and has a “well-balanced academic background that includes the humanities and social sciences,” the website reads.

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