The University of Wisconsin’s College of Engineering graduate school was stripped of its No.14 ranking after misreporting admissions data to U.S. News and World Report.
According to U.S. News, the College of Engineering initially reported receiving 9,338 applications and accepting 884. The corrected data indicates that the college actually received 6,172 applicants and admitted 1,154, raising the college’s acceptance rate from 8.9 percent to 18.7 percent.
Since U.S. News and World Report’s rankings weigh a college’s acceptance more heavily than other elements, instead of re-calculating the rankings and drastically altering the list, it stripped the College of Engineering of its 2017 ranking.
UW spokesperson Meredith McGlone said the university had staff from outside the College of Engineering analyze the data when questions were raised about its validity.
McGlone said the investigation found errors in the way the database queries were written, which affected data UW used to track applications. There was no indication that it was deliberate, she said.
Though this affects the College of Engineering graduate school’s ranking as a whole, individual departments did not lose their rankings, she said.
“I think it’s important for people to understand that the departmental rankings are still valid for this year and are still available to prospective students,” McGlone said. “Going forward, UW-Madison is reviewing data reporting practices to ensure accuracy.”
Christopher Brace, associate chair of graduate admissions for biomedical engineering, said he didn’t think the college’s unranked status would have a significant impact on the number of applications the program will receive in the future.
He said graduate students tend to choose schools based on faculty and research opportunities more than a particular school’s ranking. He was surprised that the percent admitted was so heavily weighted in the rankings, Brace said.
“I was a little surprised that there was so much importance given to this metric about admissions in the ranking process actually,” Brace said. “I’m not sure if this will change how we think about admissions or how we structure our admissions process.”