The University of Connecticut jumped eight places in the Wall Street Journal’s (WSJ) annual college rankings, while falling four spots in the list by U.S News and World Report.
The Wall Street Journal ranked UConn as the 97th best school in the country, while U.S. News ranked it as No. 22 among national public universities. Last year, UConn was ranked 105th by the WSJ and 18th by U.S. News.
This year marks the first time UConn made the WSJ’s top 100, as one of two dozen public universities in a category made up mostly of private schools.
“The growth in the number of public schools ranked in the top 100, from 21 last year, comes despite a persistent gap in resources,” the Wall Street Journal said.
“Adjusted for inflation, state support per student remains $1,000 lower than it was before the 2008 recession, according to the State Education Executive Officers Association.”
However, this year also saw UConn’s fall from U.S. News’ top 20 national public universities after having been included on that list last year.
A press release from UConn spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said the drop was primarily caused by ongoing state cuts in financial support.
“With the measure of financial resources counting for 10 percent of each school’s score, consistent cuts in UConn’s state grant aid over the past several years helped to pull down UConn’s overall ranking,” the press release said.
Though UConn’s slip in rankings is unfortunate, it is not a surprise, UConn President Susan Herbst said in the press release.
“I have said for several years, in both public and private discussions, that UConn’s financial struggles tied to reduced state support for its operating budget would eventually be reflected in U.S. News,” Herbst said. “It is frustrating to lose ground in this ranking because of that, even as UConn continues to do very well when it comes to key measures of student success, our faculty and our academic strength.”
Herbst said she hopes the state, the university community and prospective students know that the drop is largely due to UConn’s finances, rather than its education quality.
“The reality is that UConn will be the same outstanding institution next year that it was last year, this ranking notwithstanding,” Herbst said. “Schools rise and fall on this list for many reasons, and ticking a few places up or down in a year is less important than our overall long-term trajectory. That said, our goal is always to climb higher. We are hopeful that a more stable financial future will help us achieve that going forward.”
U.S. News’ chief data strategist told the Hartford Courant that UConn’s slip can be attributed in part to it being “relatively weaker” in financial resources and alumni donations, which U.S. News calculates by measuring the average spending per student on instruction, research, student services and related expenditures in the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years.
“Last year, UConn was ranked 32nd among national universities for financial resources; this year that ranking dropped to 56,” the Courant said. “This year, its rank on alumni giving also dropped from 92 to 110.”
Fifth-semester psychology and political science major Kate Stango said she believes UConn deserved to move up both rankings, as the universities’ students are engaged with and proud of their school and do well after college.
“I came to UConn because [I believed] it had the best value for the cost, and UConn has showed me time and time again that that’s true,” Stango said. “So many of the schools ranked in the (WSJ) top 100 are private schools, so the fact that UConn was able to hold its own amongst them is a true testament to how great our public education is here.”
Gabriella DeBenedictis is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.