UC Berkeley was ranked the fourth best public university in the U.S. by the Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education college rankings released Sept. 4, one step down from its 2018 ranking.
Minor fluctuations in ranking position are expected as ranking methodologies and data — such as the number of faculty who publish each year or the amount of research funding received — vary, according to campus spokesperson Michael Dirda. Dirda added that UC Berkeley is more focused on its mission of “teaching, research and public service,” as well as increasing campus diversity and building more student housing.
“We’re delighted to see that Berkeley continues to be ranked among the very best institutions in the world,” Dirda said in an email. “Each set of rankings uses its own criteria in its assessment, which may or may not overlap with what the campus considers important for serving its mission.”
The ranking used four performance indicators, according to an Aug. 29 Times Higher Education article. The indicator with the largest effect on rankings is “Outcomes,” which includes graduation rates, value added to a graduate’s salary and academic reputation. Resources, such as faculty per student, an institution’s engagement with its students and its educational environment are also considered. As part of the “Environment” indicator, student and staff diversity only make up six percent of the overall ranking, according to the article.
For the rankings, the Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education used data from various sources, including the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Campus senior Amalya Penso said schools are going to be a different fit for each student and suggested that UC Berkeley’s ranking should not be taken seriously.
“I think that the rankings are just really subjective, and there’s no comprehensive way to make an accurate ranking. … they vary from year to year, because they’re not super meaningful,” Penso said. “I think reputations of schools like Berkeley are pretty established.”
In a previous article from The Daily Californian, UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ addressed the campus being “unranked” by U.S. News & World Report, mentioning that a ranking does not define the campus. Christ also criticized the report’s annually updated criteria used to rank universities, saying, “colleges don’t change that quickly.”
Campus junior Jose Garcia said he heard that other students are disappointed by UC Berkeley no longer being ranked first among public schools by various ranking systems.
“As a public institution, we are especially proud of our ability to deliver a world-class education year after year,” said Janet Napolitano, UC president, in a Berkeley News article.