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May 1, 2019

UC Riverside scores another big win in college rankings

Forbes magazine's America's Best Value Colleges ranks UCR No. 12 among public universities

Author: J.D. Warren
May 1, 2019

UC Riverside climbed 37 spots in this year’s Forbes magazine “America’s Best Value Colleges” rankings, registering at No. 27 overall and No. 12 among  public universities. UCR has risen 80 spots in the Forbes rankings in the past two years. 

The placement, announced on April 24, marks the latest accolade in a stellar showing by UCR this year on college rankings lists. Among other achievements, UCR was the fastest-rising university on the U.S. News & World Report rankings. 

“It’s another gratifying chapter in a big year for UCR in national college rankings,” said UCR Chancellor Kim Wilcox. “The Forbes rankings acknowledge the heart of what UCR is: a place where you can get a high-quality education and exceptional value at a world-class research university.” 

The 2019 Forbes list focuses on affordability and return on investment. It’s a companion list to Forbes “America’s Top Colleges,” generally published in late summer or early fall. UCR climbed 55 spots on that list from 2017 to 2018.

Steven Brint, a UCR professor and author on higher education pedagogy, said the rankings are further evidence of movement toward student outcomes. He said Washington Monthly magazine led the charge for alternative measures of educational quality, buoyed by the work of Raj Chetty, a Stanford University professor whose research has focused on the role of higher education in social mobility, or graduates’ economic ascent.   

“U.S. News made changes in how they conceptualize and measure college quality very recently, and now Forbes is following suit,” said Brint, a distinguished professor of sociology and public policy who in 2018 authored “Two Cheers for Higher Education: Why American Universities Are Stronger Than Ever — and How to Meet the Challenges They Face.” 

“The new approaches to measuring quality are favorable to UCR, which has a strong record in the areas of diversity and social mobility, and many people would say they are long overdue.”

In its listing for UCR, Forbes praises its roots in agricultural research while also calling the campus “an engine for inclusivity and mobility.”

Forbes’ list includes 300 public and private colleges and universities. The magazine assigned scores in six categories: quality, net price, net debt, alumni earnings, timely graduation, and access for low-income students. It notes that an abundance of Pell Grant students demonstrates institutions create opportunities for low-income students.

Forbes asserts the number of students receiving Pell Grants at UCR, 53 percent of the student population, is higher than at all the Ivy League schools combined. UCR graduates more low-income students than nearly any university in the nation. 

UCR likely also benefited in the rankings from a climb in its six-year graduation rates, from 73 percent for its 2010 cohort to 75 percent for its 2011 cohort, and from stable tuition.  

The Forbes list is only the latest in which UCR ranked well this year. UCR jumped 39 positions in the 2019 U.S. News and World Report rankings, from No. 124 in 2018, to No. 85. UCR is ranked by U.S. News as the No. 35 public university in the nation for 2019.

Also in fall 2018, UCR was named the No. 28 university in the U.S. by Washington Monthly, and No. 32 by Money magazine.

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