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U.S. News Top Five Unchanged; UNC Still Fifth Among Publics

For the 13th consecutive year, Carolina has been ranked fifth among the nation’s best public universities, according to U.S. News & World Report.

California-Berkeley ranked first among national public universities, followed by UCLA and Virginia (tied for second) and Michigan (fourth). Those results are identical to those of the past two years.

Among both national public and private universities, Carolina ranked 30th overall, the same as in 2011 and 2012. Other public universities were between tied for 20th (Berkeley, which was 21st last year) and 28th (Michigan, which was 29th last year). Overall composite scores of all five top publics remained the same at Berkeley (79) and Michigan (74) and went down one point at UCLA and Virginia (76), followed by UNC (72, up one point from last year’s 73).

U.S. News rankings, dominated by private campuses, are based on a formula that is weighted as follows: graduation and retention rates (22.5 percent), assessment by peers and counselors (22.5 percent), faculty resources (20 percent), student selectivity (12.5 percent), financial resources (10 percent), graduation rate performance (difference between actual and predicted graduation rates, 7.5 percent) and alumni giving (5 percent).

UNC results included the following:

  • First among national public universities for the ninth consecutive year and 17th overall (the same as last year, vs. 12th in 2011) in “Great Schools, Great Prices,” based on academic quality and net cost of attendance for a student receiving the average level of need-based financial aid in 2012-13. Forty-two percent of UNC undergraduates received need-based aid in 2012, according to U.S. News; that compared to 41 percent the year before. Carolina meets 100 percent of the documented need of undergraduates qualifying for need-based aid who apply on time.
  • Second among publics and seventh overall for least debt, with 35 percent of students graduating with debt and an average amount of $16,983.
  • A 97 percent average first-year retention rate for the fifth consecutive year.
  • An 89 percent average six-year graduation rate, 3 percentage points better than U.S. News predicted. (UNC’s four-year rate graduation is nearly 81 percent, the same as last year.)
  • Thirteen percent of course sections enrolled 50 or more students, holding at the same number as the past two years. That remains the lowest rate among the other top publics for the sixth year in a row. Thirty-seven percent of UNC’s course sections enrolled fewer than 20 students, up from 33 percent last year. Berkeley led the top publics at 63 percent.
  • Ranked 68th overall and fourth among the top publics in faculty resources. UNC was 70th last year, 59th two years ago, 47th three years ago, 35th four years ago and 50th five years ago. This category measures undergraduate class size; two academic years (2011-12 and 2012-13) of average total faculty compensation (salary and benefits) based on indexes weighted for regional differences; student-faculty ratio; and percentage of faculty who are full time and earned their field’s highest degree.
  • Tied for second among publics and 21st overall in high school counselors’ picks.
  • Seventh among the best undergraduate business programs; last year, it tied with two other schools for seventh. Among specialty areas, Kenan-Flagler Business School ranked fifth in management.
  • As in 2012, UNC was listed among outstanding undergraduate programs with “A Focus on Student Success.” Carolina was cited for exemplary first-year experience (seminars and other programs bringing small groups of students together regularly with faculty and staff), undergraduate research/creative projects, study abroad and service learning.

The rankings appear in the 2014 “America’s Best Colleges” guidebook and at www.usnews.com starting on Tuesday, Sept. 10.


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