The White House announced an update of a federal database of higher education institutions Saturday, intending to provide a more accurate assessment of the value and cost of a college degree.
Known as College Scorecard, the revamped interactive database now includes data on the earnings of graduates, the debt with which students graduate and the percentage of students who are able to repay their loans. The scorecard is the Obama administration’s latest attempt to assess higher education institutions amid a proliferation of released rankings, whose relevance have been debated.
UC Berkeley performs well across almost all metrics in the scorecard: The campus’s in-state attendance cost is below the national average, while the graduation rate is at 91 percent, eclipsing the national average of 44 percent.
Additionally, UC Berkeley graduates earn about $30,000 above the national average. The scorecard, however, does not provide data to compare the cost of attendance for out-of-state students at the campus.
While the scorecard seeks only to inform students’ comparisons of colleges across a variety of metrics, multiple organizations have taken to explicitly ranking institutions.
UC Berkeley is ranked as the No. 1 public institution in the nation — but 20th overall — by the U.S. News and World Report. The Academic Ranking of World Universities ranks the campus as No. 4 worldwide.
According to campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore, UC Berkeley’s ranking in a report does not reflect the institution’s value to prospective students, as “UC Berkeley continues to attract a record number of applicants,” she said in an email.
Henry Brady, the dean of the campus’s Goldman School of Public Policy, said most rankings are too focused on postgraduation earnings and on how much money a school spends, as opposed to the graduates’ quality of life and what they contribute to society in terms of voting and public service.
“Becoming a rich person is not the only thing in the world,” Brady said. “Becoming a good person is important, too.”
A study published in the Journal of Economics and Management Strategy found that a one-rank improvement in the U.S. News and World Report leads to a 1 percent increase in applications.
Brady added that the focus on the money spent per student disadvantages some public universities because it is biased toward private universities, which have more money to spend.
College Scorecard places an emphasis on graduation rates and student debt, which is “a step in sort of the right direction,” Brady said.
Contact Anderson Lanham and Ishaan Srivastava at [email protected].