In 2011, The U.S. News and World Report rated the University of Miami as the 38th best university in America, placing it higher than ever before. UM’s ranking has fallen 15 spots since then.
The latest report came out Sept. 10, and UM now stands 53rd, tied with Lehigh University and Syracuse University. Last year, UM was ranked No. 46.
According to the U.S. News and World Report, overall rankings are based on factors that indicate overall academic quality, ranging from graduation rates and class size to alumni giving and faculty salaries.
However, Executive Vice President and Provost Jeffrey Duerk said only a few of the 16 ranking parameters are actually important.
“College rankings have very modest value,” he said. “Most of the data are not a measure of rigor, quality of the student learning… but are really measures of financial resources like endowments.”
This year, socioeconomic factors were prioritized more than in the past, such as graduation rates among low-income students, but Duerk said that UM’s retention and graduation rates are nearly identical between its lowest-income students and the rest of the student body.
Duerk also said the rankings include outdated statistics. Although the newest data points were from the fall of 2017, others were almost seven years old, he said.
For prospective undergraduate students looking to compare colleges, national rank can be a key factor in making a final decision. When critiquing colleges as a whole, many students said they take into account student diversity, academic rigor, campus size and teacher-to-student ratio.
But Freshman Tej Bhasin said he doesn’t think these rankings metrics are truly indicative of the UM experience.
“A great college should be defined as a place where students can grow as individuals and develop their passions while obtaining new skills through both social and academic interactions,” said Bhasin, a finance and sports administration double major.
UM administrators recently released the details of their “Roadmap to Our New Century” initiative, which seeks to improve the overall student experience and establish UM as a comprehensive research university.
These plans place more emphasis on STEM resources and call for innovations within academics, specialized programs and campus life, all factors that contribute to a school’s ranking.
Duerk said that implementing these changes will require sustained hard work from UM’s entire campus community.
Regardless of how UM plans to raise its ranking in the future, Duerk said UM should still be ranked higher right now.
“If I took the top 100 from U.S. News and World Report and came up with my own ranking system where you considered rigor, student climate, student experience, faculty resources, the mix of research and traditional learning, lifetime value of the degree, and some other factors, I think I’d have us in the 30s somewhere,” Duerk said.
Bhasin also said UM should be ranked much higher because he thinks it’s one of the world’s premier universities.
“We deserve to be number one on the list because it’s all about the U,” he said.