Time to Put Rankings on Hold?

Prominent voices call for a delay in the current rankings period, due to COVID-19.

IN A LETTER dated April 17, top leaders from AACSB International, the European Foundation for Management Development, and the Graduate Management Admission Council called for business school rankings institutions to delay the next round of rankings. Written in coordination with the MBA Career Services and Employer Alliance, the letter was addressed to Bloomberg Businessweek, The Economist, Forbes, The Financial Times, QS World University Rankings, and U.S. News & World Report. The letter argues that business schools are focused on helping their students and communities navigate the COVID-19 crisis. Furthermore, with travel curtailed, study and work abroad programs will be significantly affected.

“Business school deans and administrators have always understood the impact outside forces have on their mission to develop diverse, high-level talent in their classrooms. Traditionally, such forces have included economic fluctuations, trade wars, advances in technology, and political factors. The forces we face today are extraordinary,” the letter reads. “Therefore, we strongly advocate that all rankings institutions postpone their work and publication on business school rankings, to provide business schools worldwide the opportunity to rebound in these tumultuous circumstances.”

The letter was signed by AACSB’s former president and CEO Thomas Robinson, EFMD’s president Eric Cornuel, and GMAC’s president and CEO Sangeet Chowfla. The three emphasize the “unknown impacts” the pandemic crisis will have on metrics that traditionally drive the rankings. These include disruptions to enrollments, recruitment, student mobility, and job placement that could skew rankings results.

“At the same time, we are seeing business schools respond to the emergent needs of businesses, local communities, and learners in agile and innovative ways that carry the opportunity for new areas of measurement; also a critical aspect of the rankings discussion,” Robinson, Cornuel, and Chowfla write. “We believe a collaborative dialogue will lead to stronger, more valid outcomes in the end, for all stakeholders.”

On May 7, Bloomberg Businessweek announced that it would suspend its 2020 rankings of MBA programs.