The Erasmus School of Economics (ESE), formerly known as Faculteit der Economische Wetenschappen (FEW), publishes yearly educational statistics about their study programs and education. It gives an idea of how the ESE is doing by providing statistics on just about everything. Well, almost everything.
In the past the ESE used to include university rankings as provided by Keuzegids (among others), which compares study programs from different universities in the country, and present a benchmark. The goal is to inform future and current students about the quality of education and study programs can be easily compared. This booklet is published yearly by the Centre for Higher Education Information (CHOI).
The last time the ESE used the Keuzegids rankings was in the educational statistics of November 2009, which can be found here on page 2 of the PDF file. The last paragraph of the introduction and summary (found on page 2) clearly explains how the Keuzegids produces its benchmarks.
This is directly followed by the signatures of Guus Eilers and Harry Post. Both gentlemen are Senior Officer Management Information Supply at the Education Service Centre of the ESE and are responsible for producing the yearly educational statistics.
The benchmarks are then presented in chapter 9 “Benchmark” and the first sentence of that chapter reads, translated into English: “As external benchmark the management team of the ESE has chosen for the Keuzegids, which appears yearly.” This indicates the Keuzegids was picked by dean Franses and vice dean Arnold.
The chapter then explains in detail how the Keuzegids rankings are produced and what has changed in the way the rankings are produced compared to the previous year. This indicates both dean and vice dean are aware of how Keuzegids produces its benchmarks.
What stands out in the educational statistics of November 2010 (found here) is that it states the Keuzegids rankings have been excluded. According to the document there are two reasons for that: (1) now there’s a separate volume for Universities and one for Masters, and (2) it uses every study program per university.
The latter means that Rotterdam appears only once for the economics program, while Groningen appears twice and Tilburg appears even three times in the statistics. According to the ESE this is too confusing and allegedly “impairs a proper comparison”.
Liar, liar, pants on fire?
During proceedings of the 92nd School Council meeting held on August 24, 2011, vice dean Ivo Arnold tells us a slightly different story for excluding the Keuzegids rankings. The minutes of that meeting (found here) state “There are many rankings. We [ESE] do not track rankings like Elsevier or Keuzegids because it is unclear how they measure.”
He continues by stating that the bachelor economics in Wageningen has high scores, but cannot be properly compared to the much larger ESE study programs. “This makes the objective lose substance.” Arnold finishes by stating that “we aim for a high reputation, rather than a high ranking”.
The first part of this statement clearly contradicts the text from the educational statistics of November 2009, in which it is clearly explains the methods by which the Keuzegids produces its rankings. Additionally, the same document indicates dean Franses and vice dean Arnold are both aware of these methods. So either they forgot, or they lied.
Now this story is not yet finished, far from it. In January’s newsletter the ESE surprisingly proudly published an article on how the “ESE Econometrics Bachelor program tops the Keuzegids 2013 league table”. This when not even two years ago vice dean Ivo Arnold clearly stated they don’t use the Keuzegids ranking.
Arnold’s reason to exclude the Keuzegids rankings was that it’s unclear how the rankings are produced and what measurements the CHOI uses. Now if that were true, then why do the educational statistics of 2009 (that were published two years prior to his statement in 2011) is able to explain in great detail how the CHOI makes up its rankings?
It was NB the dean and vice dean that chose to use Keuzegids rankings in 2009, and they were well aware of the methods and measurements involved. And even now, ESE’s news article contains only two sentences that cover the ranking results, while the entire remainder of the article explains in even greater detail how the CHOI produces its rankings.
Arnold’s statement about the Keuzegids in 2011 is therefore very strange. One possible explanation is that back then the ESE programs had only low to medium scores: Econometrics 3 out of 7, Economics 6 out of 9, Fiscal Economics 5 out of 6 and E&I 6 out of 8. Now that Econometrics tops the list it’s apparently suddenly interesting material to publish, especially when taking into account that dean Franses is affiliated with the Econometrics department.
Hypocrisy, dirty politics?? You decide.