UC Berkeley ranks below UCLA as 2nd-best public school in US

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Audrey McNamara/File

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UC Berkeley ranked as the second-best public school among national universities in the U.S. News & World Report 2019 Best Colleges rankings, dropping from its place tied as best with UCLA in the 2018 ranking.

This year, UCLA took the sole No. 1 title in the ranking for the first time. UC Berkeley’s tie with UCLA in last year’s ranking was the first time in almost 20 years that UC Berkeley did not achieve the sole title of No. 1 public university in the U.S.

Other UC campuses also moved up in the ranking — UC Santa Barbara moved up three spots since last year and is now tied at No. 5 with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. UC Irvine ranked at No. 7, moving up from a tie at No. 9 last year.

“My brother goes to UCLA, so I’m happy for him, but I’m kind of disappointed because I don’t have bragging rights anymore,” said campus sophomore Mayumi Herrera.

Campus spokesperson Michael Dirda said UC Berkeley did not actually score any lower in the point system of the ranking, but UCLA’s score increased by 4 points.

According to U.S. News, the methodology calculates the ranking of each school through 16 metrics of academic excellence, including graduation and retention rates, faculty resources and standardized testing.

Several methodological changes are responsible for UC Berkeley’s lower ranking, Dirda said, such as the new criteria assessing the school’s contribution to social mobility by measuring the proportion of Pell Grant recipients in the school and their graduation rates. According to Dirda, UCLA has a higher proportion of Pell Grant recipients than UC Berkeley.

Because the changes in rankings were due to methodology, Dirda said the campus isn’t “slipping in any way.” He added that there are many college rankings that often change methodologies, and UC Berkeley can’t be No. 1 in all of them. He said that UC Berkeley will not make decisions “solely to do better in rankings.”

“We’re thrilled to see other UCs being seen as fantastic places to learn, just like UC Berkeley,” Dirda said.

Earlier this year, UC Berkeley ranked as the best public school in the Academic Ranking of World Universities and improved from third to best public university in Forbes America’s Top Colleges 2018 list.

It’s disappointing. It just sucks that we can’t say it (we’re No. 1). Yesterday in my chem lab, that’s all anybody was talking about,said campus freshman Natalie Gonzalez.

Campus sophomore Daniel Ticas said he does not care about the ranking and that UC Berkeley is still recognized as among the top universities in the professional world.

But others placed more weight in the ranking. Campus junior Charmaine Lai said they shouldn’t tell their parents about this ranking, because they take “pride” in UC Berkeley being ranked No. 1.

It’s just shocking. Knowing that UC Berkeley was No. 1 was the reason why I picked this school,” campus freshman Anay Pelaez Jimenez said. “It would have definitely affected my decision to go here.”

“Contact Yao Huang at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @Yhoneplus.”