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Harvard Law School Drops Out of U.S. News Rankings | News

Harvard Law School will stop participating in the U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings, the school announced Wednesday.

The school’s announcement on Wednesday came just hours after Yale Law School also said it would stop participating in the rankings, which have come under increased scrutiny in recent months amid questions about the methodology U.S. News uses.

Harvard Law School Dean John F. Manning ’82 wrote in an email to HLS affiliates that it has “become impossible to reconcile our principles and commitments with the methodology and incentives the U.S. News rankings reflect.”

“Done well, such rankings could convey accurate, relevant information about universities, colleges, and graduate and professional schools that may help students and families make informed choices about which schools best meet their needs,” Manning wrote. “However, rankings can also emphasize characteristics that potentially mislead those who rely on them and can create perverse incentives that influence schools’ decisions in ways that undercut student choice and harm the interests of potential students.”

Harvard fell to No. 4 in the most recent U.S. News rankings, behind Yale, Stanford, and the University of Chicago.

Manning criticized a metric added by U.S. News two years ago that measures student debt at graduation. He argued that potential applicants are unable to distinguish whether this metric reflects a school’s generous financial aid or a high percentage of wealthy admits who do not require student loans.

“And to the extent the debt metric creates an incentive for schools to admit better resourced students who don’t need to borrow, it risks harming those it is trying to help,” Manning wrote.

Because the debt metric does not consider loan forgiveness programs, Manning wrote, it also conveys misleading information to students interested in public service, who would qualify for post-graduate aid.

He added that the rankings’ emphasis on test scores and college grades has incentivized law schools to prioritize academic performance over need when distributing financial aid. The Law School does not offer merit scholarships, unlike several of its peer institutions, including Columbia and the University of Chicago.

“Though HLS and YLS have each resisted the pull toward so-called merit aid, it has become increasingly prevalent, absorbing scarce resources that could be allocated more directly on the basis of need,” he wrote.

U.S. News & World Report did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This story will be updated.

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