August 17, 2010 — Public colleges and universities – challenged by tight state budgets – lost ground to private schools in the 2011 U.S. News & World Report rankings, released today.
The University of Virginia held on to its spot in the top 25, tying for 25th place with the University of California-Los Angeles and Wake Forest University. Besides U.Va. and UCLA, only one other public institution was ranked among the top 25 – the University of California-Berkeley, which ranked 22nd overall and was the No. 1 public.
Sixteen public institutions are among the top 50. Two private schools, the University of Southern California and Wake Forest, cracked the top 25.
Also at U.Va., the McIntire School of Commerce moved up one place, to No. 5 in the nation. Several of its program specialties also were ranked.
Declining Financial Resources
Among the top 25, U.Va. received the lowest ranking for financial resources – No. 64 – which includes average spending per student for instruction, research, student services and related educational expenditures. By contrast, Wake Forest is ranked seventh and UCLA 23rd. The category constitutes 10 percent of the ranking.
Since 2000-01, state funding per in-state student at U.Va. fell from $12,011 to $8,601 in the 2009-2010 academic year. It is projected to decline to $8,470 in this coming academic year, meaning that an in-state student's contribution toward the cost of his or her education will be larger than the state's.
U.Va. and UCLA also had the two lowest scores for faculty resources among the top schools – U.Va. at No. 37 and UCLA at No. 43. The category makes up 20 percent of the ranking, and its largest determinant is average faculty salary and benefits.
The state general fund allocation to the University has been cut four times since 2007-08, by a total of $36.8 million. U.Va. faculty and staff have gone without pay increases for three years.
President Teresa A. Sullivan said the results are noteworthy. "The combination of a high overall ranking and a low ranking for resources shows how efficient U.Va. is," she said. "I thank the faculty who have done such fine work for our students."
Indeed, the silver lining for U.Va. lies in academic performance. The University's graduation rate of 93 percent makes it the top-ranked public institution in this category, and it tied for 12th among all of its peers, public and private. U.Va.'s retention rate for first-year students was 97 percent, among the very best in the nation.
A new twist in the 2011 rankings is the inclusion of high school counselors' recommendations. U.Va. received assessments of 4.3 on a five-point scale in both the counselors' rating and the peer assessments by presidents and provosts. The ratings were combined in the renamed and heavily weighted "undergraduate academic reputation" category. U.Va. was the No. 3 public in this category, behind only UC-Berkeley and the University of Michigan.
McIntire, Engineering Move Up
As it moved into the No. 5 position among the nation's undergraduate business programs, the McIntire School also had more of its individual programs recognized.
The school was ranked No. 24 in international business, tied with American University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Miami in Florida. The management information systems program was also ranked, at No. 15, a tie with New York University.
Other ranked programs were
• Accounting, No. 12 (tied with Michigan State University), up from No. 13
• Finance, No. 7, up from No. 8
• Management, No. 6, same as last year
• Marketing, No. 8, same as last year
The School of Engineering and Applied Science also moved up a notch to No. 36 among institutions offering doctorates in engineering. Its 3.3 peer assessment rating remained steady, giving it a tie with Lehigh University, University of California-Santa Barbara and Vanderbilt University.
The biomedical engineering specialty was ranked at No. 18, the same as last year.
• The University ranked 33rd in the "great schools, great prices" list, down from No. 23 last year.
• It ranked third among public universities in annual giving, tying with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
• U.Va. ranked 37th among all institutions in alumni giving, with 22 percent of alumni making contributions.