Continuing on the U.S. News & World Report college rankings theme:
You may have heard some of the uproar among higher ed types caused by U.S. News‘ decision to sell universities the right to post the magazine’s rankings “seal of approval” badge on institutions’ websites.
As The Chronicle of Higher Education points out, U.S. News has been selling campuses the right to use the badge in print materials for years — so charging a fee for this seal of approval is nothing new. The magazine is just extending its product line into the virtual sphere. But at a pretty hefty price tag: $8,200 for unlimited use. “That’s chutzpah,” Flacklife‘s Bob LeDrew said in his comment on a somewhat-related post on this blog.
Here’s what some other higher ed folks have to say about the badge flap — and an appeal to hear something from the other side:
- Mike Richwalsky, on his blog HighEdWebTech, was talking about this issue even before the rankings were made public. “We’ll be referencing the rankings starting tomorrow once the embargo is lifted,” Mike wrote. “One thing we won’t have is the logo. I don’t know if having that along with our news release is worth $700-800 and way up from there for print rights. Will some schools pony up for the logo? I think so. But I would guess many won’t – seeing how bad budgets are right now.”
- In that post, Mike shared a tweet from Karine Joly, which gave me a chuckle: “How about an alternate badge that would say: I’m ranked as a top tier college but prefer to spend 1K on scholarship instead of badge fee?” Not a bad idea.
- Another idea, from a poster on CASE’s Communications-L listserv, which was abuzz with discussions about the badge: “I’ll be happy to pay to use their badge, as long as they pay for the cost of advertising their magazine on our website and in our alumni magazine, and they’re welcome to pay for the portion of any ad we run which features their badge ad.”
- Another listserve member summarized the feelings of many: “We consider it disturbing that the rankings are being linked to attempts to make exorbitant fees on licensing, and it further negates the hotly-contested validity of such rankings in the public’s eye when they are linked to profiting from the schools who are ranked – which seems to be a pretty short-sighted move on the part of these publications. Both Forbes and U.S.News already benefit greatly from the visibility of the rankings, and from each time their badge is promoted in conjunction with them by a college. In a time of economic crisis for education as a whole, schools cannot and should not allocate resources in such a manner and I find the attempt to sell us this to be offensive.”
- Enough with the complaints. What’s the upside of this controversy for institutions? Any of you readers purchasing the badge to display on your websites? Let us know why, and the benefits you hope to gain from it.
Have a great weekend.