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UCSRN is critical of Keuzegids ranking of the UCs, Keuzegids promises change

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On the November 15, the Keuzegids published their 2017 rankings of the Dutch University Programs. However, according to the UCSRN, the ranking of the Liberal Arts and Sciences/University Colleges programs is terribly flawed. The causes: insufficient research by Keuzegids and a questionable methodology.

Questionable results

Keuzegids does not only use the croho-registry for the educational programs wrong, their follow-up research also seems to be incorrect. For example, Keuzegids indicated the Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) program in Amsterdam as two separate bachelors, whilst in fact there is only one (AUC). Additionally, according to Keuzegids, University College Utrecht (UCU) welcomes 473 new students every year, whilst in reality there are 240 less. Prof. James Kennedy, dean of UCU, indicates that Keuzegids mistook UCU for the other Liberal Arts and Sciences program of the University of Utrecht, which is completely separated from UCU.

The thoroughness of their research method is also brought into question by the UCSRN. In their methodology, Keuzegids states that the official language of the institutes is cross-referenced with their respective websites. The official languages of the University Colleges of Amsterdam, Utrecht and Maastricht are stated to be Dutch. A simple visit to the websites of Amsterdam, Utrecht and Maastricht however shows that the official language of these programs is English.

Furthermore, much confusion is present as to the ‘survival rate’ of first years at the UCs. According to Keuzegids, less than 73% of the first year students of UCR successfully proceed to their second year, whilst the data in possession of the UCSRN firmly contradicts this. The same mistake is then made for UCU, where around 95% of the students successfully enter their second year, whilst according to Keuzegids this is below 73%.

Following the above-mentioned inconsistencies, the question arises as to how the student evaluations of the Colleges were collected. One could wonder for example if the extremely positive and/or negative responses of the different Colleges are corrected for the difference in student numbers of these Colleges. A highly positive or negative student attending a smaller program like Groningen would otherwise have a much greater influence on the assessment compared to a student in Utrecht. It is also due to this, that one questions why the ‘expert assessment’ is not given more weight, which ranks the UCs quite differently, placing Tilburg not on the 2nd but 7th (or lower) position. In addition it is unclear how the total score is being calculated. Maastricht and Utrecht both have the same number of ‘plusses’, but the total score differs by 4 points.

Past rectifications

In the past Keuzegids has had to rectify their publications multiple times already. One fails to see why they do not assign more attention and effort into their publications. Additionally, after contacting the University Colleges, it remains uncertain how the programs can themselves deliver data and or rectify them. The UCSRN regrets the lack of thoroughness of the Keuzegids and cannot, without proper rectification by he Keuzegids, commend the results.

A response

In a response to the criticism by the UCSRN, the editor in chief of Keuzegids states that mistakes have indeed been made during the process of ranking the University Colleges. The Keuzegids offers its sincere apologies for the flaws in the methodology and promises to rectify these before next year. In the current edition of the Keuzegids, the errors will be mentioned in an erratum.

In a previous version of the article, it stated that Twente was placed on the second place. This is a mistake. Twente should have been replaced with Tilburg.