Report ranks Stanford higher than UC Berkeley in reputation

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Stanford University was declared more prestigious than UC Berkeley in recently released world academic rankings. Times Higher Education, a United Kingdom-based academics magazine, released its annual rankings of world universities Thursday. In the report, Stanford is ranked fourth and UC Berkeley fifth in reputation — the reverse from last year.

“A large number of US institutions have seen their standing in the table slip, with some of the great public institutions taking significant hits as the world watches their public funding being slashed,” said Phil Baty, editor of the Times Higher Education Rankings, in a statement. “This is bad news.”

The reputation rankings were compiled from the responses of about 17,000 surveys, in which academics were asked about their opinions on universities. Also figured into the rankings were data on universities’ reputations for research and teaching, according to the report.

Despite the slip in the rankings, UC Berkeley’s continued presence among prestigious universities is to be commended, said David Kirp, a professor of public policy on campus.

“I think it’s amazing given the cuts we’ve had that we’ve been able to retain our reputation internationally and nationally — against the odds we’ve retained our preeminence,” Kirp said. “However, it’s a fragile perch … further cuts are going to cost us.”

Other universities included in the rankings are Harvard University in first place, Massachusetts Institute of Technology in second and the University of Cambridge in third. Counting Stanford, three of the five top ranked are all private universities.

“Public education is facing severe and dramatic cuts and … we’re still neck and neck with Stanford,”  said Henry Brady, dean of UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy. “We’re still Cadillac quality but people are paying Chevy prices for what we do — that’s pretty impressive.”

According to the rankings, Stanford’s reputation is numbered at 72.1; UC Berkeley, at 71.6 — a difference Brady called “miniscule.”

The .5 difference between the schools’ rankings reflects “the uncertainties in both the measuring methodology and the data,” said C. Judson King, director of the campus Center for Studies in Higher Education, in an email.

“A statistician would say that movement of a few positions is meaningless,” King said. “Such a small movement of Berkeley in the ranking is not significant. At most, it may reflect perceptions about the state budget situation in California rather than anything specific about the true academic quality of the university.”

Other rankings bring more heartening news for the University of California. On Tuesday, U.S. News and World Report released its annual rankings of American graduate schools and programs. Various UC campuses were represented in the rankings, with UC Berkeley in the top ten for its business, law, public affairs and engineering programs.