'Rate My Professor' sparks lecturer protests

Rate My Professors' online video forum gives tutors the opportunity to bite back
Rate My Professors' online video forum gives tutors the opportunity to bite back

'Rate My...' sites have infiltrated the internet for some years now, with the things you can rate as innocuous or offensive ranging from flower arranging to hard core pornography...

One site that's causing more controversy than most though is Ratemyprofessors.com. Here, students from the US, and now the UK, can rate lecturers and universities, with over a million lecturers reviewed and rated on the site.

Although the website is almost 10 years old – it began way back in 1999 – the recent addition of UK universities has not sat well with British academics.

According to The Independent, a number of tutors have been complaining about the less-than constructive feedback users have been giving, with posts including: "Ignores her students mostly, a very false personality and especially when handing out praise. Incredibly patronising and not very bright." And the fairly disparaging: "Not only is the book a better teacher, it also has a better personality."

Tutors fight back

To counteract this, the website has added a video forum of sorts, where lecturers can post videos of themselves refuting what has been said about them.

Currently at the top of the list is professor David Linton of Marymount Mahattan College who has posted a vlog titled 'So he has hair, get over it', asking people to look beyond his copious barnet.

But, whether tutors like it or not, a new report by the journal Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education found that these rating could actually aid in the hiring and promotion of university lecturers in the future, stating that: "Students who post ratings may be regarded as experts who have had significant experience with the professors.

"They may also have consulted with a number of other students who share the same perspective, so that online ratings may represent a far larger and more representative sample of students than the numbers suggest."

So, any lecturers looking for a new job beware – one of the questions could well be: "On Rate My Professor you are described as 'arrogant, rude, unhelpful and supremely egotistical'. How do you respond to this?"

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, Shortlist.com at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.