Although UC Berkeley surrendered its top 10 spot in the World University Rankings this year, the institution persists as the No. 1 public university in the United States, according to the Center for World University Rankings, or CWUR.
Prior to each academic year, the CWUR analyzes seven indicators to compare 2,000 universities globally. According to its website, while the ranking started in 2012 with the goal of ranking the top 100 universities, it quickly grew into the largest academic ranking of universities globally.
“CWUR publishes the only global university ranking that measures the quality of education and training of students as well as the prestige of the faculty members and the quality of their research without relying on surveys and university data submissions,” said CWUR President Dr. Nadim Mahassen in an email. “Equal emphasis is put on the learning environment and research.”
The factors that serve as the basis for the rankings include quality of education, alumni employment and faculty, according to Mahassen. Quality of education and faculty is determined by how many alumni or faculty members have won “major academic distinctions,” relative to the university’s size, Mahassen said.
Mahassen added that the “alumni employment” ranking, which is also considered relative to a university’s size, is determined by the number of alumni who have held positions as top executives at the world’s largest companies.
Although UC Berkeley had previously held a position in the top 10 universities worldwide every year since the project began, it was ranked 12th for 2020-21.
According to Mahassen, UC Berkeley slipped in the rankings due to a recent increase in enrollment, which affected the quality of education and alumni employment scores as well as resulted in a drop in research performance.
Mahassen, however, thinks this decrease may say more about the future of public institutions as a whole.
“It is a worrying time for US public universities amid stiff global competition from well-funded universities,” Mahassen said in the email. “Data has shown that the US higher education is slowly eroding, and the standings of the majority of the US public institutions in the global top-100 will be at great risk if funding for higher education is cut by the Trump administration.”
From UC Berkeley’s perspective, fluctuations in a university’s rankings are often accounted for by changes in the methodology of the rankings from year to year, according to campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore.
Gilmore added that UC Berkeley is consistently deemed a top university in comparison to both public and private institutions, which she called a reflection of the “exceptional faculty, students and staff” on campus.