A study by the US Department of Education has revealed that 30 million adults in the U.S. are functionally illiterate and another department of education report has rated the United States at 35 out of 57 countries for mathematics literacy among 15-year-olds.
But things are good for the country when it comes to higher education. This finding was disclosed by a new study by Times Higher Education (THE), a London magazine that tracks the higher education market.
THE’s top-ranked school is Harvard University, which is the oldest U.S. institution of higher learning, having been established in 1636 (Harvard ranked No. 8 in Forbes’ own annual ranking of colleges). Harvard finished first on THE’s teaching component and also scored highly on the impact of its research, which is calculated by looking at the papers produced at each institution and counting the number of citations they get.
THE revamped its methodology this year, with reduced weightings for the subjective results of a reputation survey, and more than doubled the number of metrics in the ranking, from 6 to 13. THE says its goal is to measure the three main missions of a university: teaching, research and knowledge transfer.
The ranking clearly favors big research institutions. “Research institutions are the key to the knowledge economy,” Baty says. Thus, for example, six of the eight schools in the Ivy League rank in the top 20 overall, but Brown and Dartmouth, smaller Ivies with fewer postgrad programs, lag well behind, at 55 and 99, respectively. Brown fared poorly when it came to research citations. Dartmouth got dinged for its lack of diversity among students and faculty and low scores for research reputation.
Schools in the United States dominate annual World University Rankings for 2010-11 by holding 72 places among the world’s top 200, including all the top five.