Well, well, well…
Perhaps it is a surprise that this didn’t happen earlier but we have our first case of a university overtly writing to academics around the world to solicit positive response to our survey. The university in question have, it would seem, written to every academic contact they can track down with very explicit, if inaccurate, instructions on how to complete our survey in their favour.
It is a credit to the academic community at large that this has not occurred earlier in our history and also a credit that three separate individuals have written to me to inform me of these emails.
So – now we have to initiate a policy and since we may not be able to distinguish solicited responses from genuine ones, the position we should take seems clear:
Any institution found attempting to solicit particular response to one of our surveys will now have all of their responses for the given survey in the given year discarded.
The rankings are increasingly well-referenced and relied upon by a variety of stakeholders – including prospective students – around the world. We can and will not tolerate any attempt to manipulate them to portray anything other than their natural conclusion. The rankings have also led to a reality where the QS Intelligence Unit has become exceptionally well connected and, as a result, an attempt on any scale to solicit response is almost guaranteed to be brought to our attention. It’s not worth it.
Besides – I imagine that the majority of academics are LESS likely to respond favourably upon receipt of this kind of invitation.
Naturally, given our record response levels in 2010 – which we expect to exceed in 2011 – such a campaign would have to be extremely successful to have a noticeable impact on our ranking results.
See updated policy on this matter here