UCR at night
September 29, 2021

Wall Street Journal rankings put UCR in top 50 publics

University has climbed 184 positions in the past 5 years

Author: J.D. Warren
September 29, 2021

UCR Riverside moved into the top 50 public universities in a college rankings system from The Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education.

With the 2022 WSJ/THE report, UCR has climbed 184 positions in the overall rankings in the past five years.

Even as other college rankings afford greater weight to student success, including for underrepresented communities – the WSJ/THE poll continues to afford much weight – 30% of a university’s overall score – to a university’s “resources.” That includes student-faculty ratios, faculty salaries, research spending, and endowments. Such measures favor small, private, wealthy universities such as Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Yale, and Duke, which top the 2022 list. In the introduction to the 2022 WSJ/THE rankings, the Wall Street Journal states: “The top tier… is packed with familiar names.” All of the top five schools in the WSJ/THE list placed in the top five in the 2021 list; nine of the 2021 top 10 returned; 19 of the top 20 returned. All but two of the top 20 schools rank among the top 20 for resources.

“Schools with the spending power to cope with the falling revenues and rising costs many have experienced as a result of the pandemic fare well in the rankings,” the WSJ/THE intro reads.

Along with resources, the WSJ/THE score is based on student outcomes, including graduates’ salaries and debts and student engagement, a measure of whether students feel their education translates to the “real world.” In its methodology statement, the WSJ/THE pollsters said they have not updated their student engagement data since the 2021 ranking. The remaining 10% of the score considers learning environment, including the diversity of the student population and academic staff. Environment is the category in which UCR scored highest.

Aside from the repurposing of some data in three areas from the last survey, WSJ/THE purports to have left its methodology from last year alone. Despite the unchanging nature of the formula, UCR climbed in the past five years 184 spots in the overall list from No. 368 among 1,061 universities in the 2017 list to No. 184 among 796 in the 2022 list.

"We're proud of our progress in the rankings, but we regret the Journal-Times Higher Ed priority on resources as opposed to outcomes,” said UCR Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox.

Fall is generally when the country’s leading college rankings lists are published, and it’s been a good season for UCR. Earlier this month, for the third consecutive year, UCR was named by U.S. News & World Report as the country’s top university for social mobility. Also this fall, Washington Monthly magazine named UCR No. 1 in the nation for Pell Grant performance. UCR graduated the second-most Pell Grant students in the country, according to federal data from the most recent cohort considered.

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