Students are the core element of any college or university. They’re the reason the place exists and they’re they ones who keep it going. But should we base the caliber of their school based on a survey they fill out? No.
Yes, you can say that students know their school best… or students would know better than anyone else how well the professors are at conveying information. But there’s a fundamental flaw with surveys: people lie.
Now I’m not trying to say that students are evil people filled with lies that will go around and try to screw up a survey, but realistically, it will happen whether it is intentional or not. A student who is proud of their school and what they have accomplished there will fill out the survey more positively than it may actually be. If a student is of a kind and gentle nature, they may refrain from saying anything too harsh against their school, regardless of how they may actually feel.
What about the students who don’t think too highly of their school? Will they just flat out lie about it? No. Chances are that most people who do poorly in school or who just really don’t care about it will not take the time to fill out the survey. Their opinions will never be counted. This won’t always be the case… there’s always the loud and outspoken person who will take any opportunity to bash their school, but that’s a small percentage. And the large majority of the “I don’t care about school” crowd, will not fill out the survey and will drastically impact the results.
So, no. Student surveys should not be the basis for college or university rankings. Instead, they should be ranked by the quality of their facilities, the average GPA of their students (including even the ones who don’t care about school), and the caliber of their equipment. You can argue that these things are just all based on money and that the schools with more money will clearly win… but hey, that’s the world we live in. You get what you pay for, and a more expensive university can provide the best learning for the average person. Not to say that somebody can go to a less expensive university, work their butt off, and learn just as much as somebody from a wealthier family… but the person with the more expensive education will have a much easier time of it. Ergo, better university, regardless of the school spirit.