News of budget cuts totaling over $300 million over two years were proposed in the state budget just days after the University of Connecticut climbed to No. 18 among the nation’s top public universities on this year’s U.S. News & World Report list, according to a UConn Today article.
This is UConn’s seventh year in the Top 25 and highest ranking to date. Colleges receive a score between 0 and 100 after these indicators are scored, assigned weights based on significance, then are transformed and added up. Colleges and universities are then ranked against their peers, according to U.S. News. UConn scored 61 out of 100.
The news of UConn’s highest-yet ranking was followed by news four days later announcing a state budget that had been approved by both houses of the General Assembly.
“A reduction of that magnitude is unprecedented and would decimate the university. Ironically, it came only days after UConn was named the 18th best public university in the nation by U.S. News & World Report,” UConn President Susan Herbst said.
The approved budget has implications to the areas which serve as criteria for the U.S. News rankings. Graduation, retention rates, and class size as part of the faculty resource category, are heavily weighted in a college’s score, in addition to undergraduate academic reputation, student selectivity, financial resources, graduation rate performance and alumni giving rate.
Herbst said implications of the budget cut include strikingly larger classes and waitlists that will make it difficult for many students to graduate in four years. This would dramatically affect UConn student’s average time to graduation, which is currently 4.2 years, the third-fastest among 58 public research universities, according to university spokesperson Stephanie Reitz’s analysis of the U.S. News report.
The budget also means major cuts to need- and merit-based financial aid, financial resources per student accounts for 10 percent of a college’s score for U.S. News rankings. For Bansari Patel, a seventh semester psychology major, this is the most significant part of UConn’s score in regard to financial aid attributing to the university’s diversity
“You get to meet people from different backgrounds,” Patel said. “It enriches your education.”
The budget cut is also a threat to international programs, Herbst said. Emily Girouard, a seventh semester physiology & neurobiology and anthropology major thinks the university is deserving of the ranking but sees the budget as a threat to programs integral to her experience.
“I feel like I’m getting a higher quality education here,” Girouard said “I can’t imagine my UConn experience without my abroad experience. I feel that the budget cut would demolish what UConn is, and what we say we’re about.”
Deputy spokesperson Tom Breen said news of the budget cut coming just days after the U.S. News & World Report ranking was “like a slap in the face.”
“If we get a $309 million budget cut and have to respond to that it’s very difficult for me to imagine us even staying put (in the rankings),” Breen said. “My guess is that we’d just go backward.”
Maya Moore is a contributor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.