Carolina ranks fifth among the nation’s best public universities for the 11th consecutive year, according to U.S. News & World Report magazine.
California-Berkeley ranked first among national public universities, followed by UCLA and Virginia (tied for second) and Michigan (fourth). Those results were identical to last year’s.
Among top public and private universities, Carolina tied for 29th overall. UNC was 30th last year. Overall scores of all five top public campuses inched up slightly from last year. UNC and Michigan both saw a four-point swing (from 70 to 74 and 71 to 75, respectively). Berkeley, UCLA and Virginia went up by three points; Berkeley topped the public list at 79.
U.S. News rankings, long dominated by private campuses, reflect a formula using opinion survey responses about academic reputation and quality from peer campus presidents, provosts or admissions directors. That counts for 22.5 percent of the ranking for national universities. Objective data cover up to 16 indicators of academic quality including graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, graduation rate performance and alumni giving. Other rankings assess affordability, undergraduate business programs, views of high school guidance counselors and innovative programs.
UNC results included the following:
Chancellor Holden Thorp ’86 addressed the class size and faculty resources issues in a memorandum to the Board of Trustees.
“As expected, this year’s U.S. News rankings begin to reflect the increase in class size numbers that directly correlate with our state budget cuts,” Thorp wrote. “The number of course sections we offered last fall enrolling 50 or more students went up slightly — to 13 percent from 12 percent. Likewise, 37 percent of our course sections enrolling fewer than 20 students showed a 2-point drop from the previous year in these rankings.
“Far more significant is what U.S. News says about faculty resources because we have clearly lost ground among our public peers this past year. Since these U.S. News rankings tend to lag about a year behind developments like budget cuts, we would expect to see more decline when these rankings come out next fall. It will all depend on what happens to our peer campuses, some of which are giving faculty raises. And that could further exacerbate the faculty retention issue.”
The rankings appear in the 2012 America’s Best Colleges guidebook and at www.usnews.com.