UC Berkeley, UVA Share Top Ranking

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UC Berkeley will retain its ranking as the top public school in the country but must once again share the honor with the University of Virginia, according to U.S. News and World Report rankings released today.

The two schools also tied for the No. 20 spot in the magazine's overall rankings of national universities, which include private colleges.

Princeton University regained the top spot in a ranking of all U.S. universities, displacing the California Institute of Technology, last year's winner, which fell to fourth place. Harvard and Yale universities tied for second place.

Last year, UC Berkeley sat alone at the top of the public school rankings but shared the title with the University of Virginia two years ago.

While the campus scored well in the category of academic reputation, it did not fare as well on the list for alumni giving and financial resources when compared with the private schools that dominate the top slots.

Only three public schools were ranked in the top 25. UCLA finished third on the list of public schools and 25th in the overall rankings.

Other UC campuses in the top 50 national universities include UC San Diego, ranked 31st, UC Davis and UC Irvine, tied for 41st and UC Santa Barbara at 45th.

The magazine's rankings system has come under fire in recent years for using subjective criteria that many feel is biased toward the financial power of private schools and against pure academic strength.

Despite the report's prominence, the university does not give great weight to the rankings, said UC Berkeley spokesperson Marie Felde.

"The campus doesn't really pay a lot of attention to U.S. News," she said. "There are a whole lot of better ways to measure the quality of the system. If you look at academic measures, UC Berkeley should be at the top of the list."

Officials at Stanford University, which ranked sixth overall, would not comment on the data yesterday because they so strongly disapprove of ranking schools.

The undergraduate program at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business ranked fourth nationally, and its real estate and general management programs placed in the top three.

Civil engineering was the only campus undergraduate program to rank first in the nation, and the chemical engineering program ranked second. Overall, the magazine ranked UC Berkeley's College of Engineering third, behind MIT and Stanford.

"From a systemwide perspective, we think all of our programs are of a high quality," said UC spokesperson Terry Lightfoot. "As for U.S. News, we can't make an assessment of what these rankings mean because they change the criteria every year."

ASUC officials, however, were more enthusiastic.

"It is fantastic that we were the number one public school again," said ASUC External Vice President Nick Papas.

He added, however, that the scores should be taken with a grain of salt.

"I don't think that the rankings should be taken all that seriously," he said. "I think studies have shown that it has its flaws."

UC Riverside and UC Santa Cruz were both ranked in the second tier of national universities. UC Santa Cruz was the only undergraduate UC campus that failed to make the top 50 list of public schools.

Although the U.S. News rankings are certainly prominent, UC Berkeley officials said they give more credence to rankings from the National Research Council, which consistently rank many of the university's departments first or second.

"We hope that students, when they evaluate what colleges and universities to go to, look at much more than just the rankings," Felde said.

According to the U.S. News data, molecular and cell biology is the most popular major on the UC Berkeley campus, followed by economics, English, political science and psychology. Ninety-eight percent of UC Berkeley freshman ranked in the top 10 percent of their high school class, the magazine said.

The report also concluded that 16 percent of UC Berkeley classes have more than 50 students.


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