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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Academics & Research

UH jumps in US News college rankings, still falls behind other Texas universities

Despite climbing in ranking since last year, the University of Houston remains behind Texas’ other public research institutions. | Fiona Legesse/The Cougar

The University of Houston jumped to 171 from 192 in the U.S. News & World Report college rankings released last week, with the big jump credited to changes in ranking criteria.

While the University received a significantly raise in ranking, it still lags far behind Texas’ other flagship research universities. The importance of economic background, in addition to other minor changes to the U.S. News’ criteria, helped to give the University its boost.

“We provide various financial resources to our dynamic mix of students including financial aid, tuition rebates, grant assistance and more,” said Executive Director of Media Relations Mike Rosen  in a statement to The Cougar. “The mission to strengthen our status as a nationally competitive public research university is ongoing, and there’s still much more to be accomplished.”

The University of Texas at Dallas shot up to rank 129 from 145, Texas A&M University at College Station slipped three spots to 69 and the University of Texas at Austin moved to 49 from 56. 

U.S. News & World Report utilizes a variety of factors to give a college a score out of 100, the No. 1 college having a score of 100. This score determines a college’s rank. Six-year graduation rates, faculty resources, alumni giving and academic peer assessments are just a few of the categories considered to generate this score.

The most significant change to the ranking criteria from last year is the importance of outcomes, previously worth only 30 percent and now worth 35 percent.

Outcome measures a school’s six-year graduation rate, expected graduation performance — as calculated by U.S. News — and social mobility.

Social mobility looks at a college’s ability to graduate students, especially those from lower income families.  Students who receive Pell Grants through their Free Application for Federal Student Aid come from families who make less than $50,000 per year.

Pell Grant recipients’ graduation rate was used for the first time in U.S. News’ criteria, weighed at 5 percent.

Thirty-two percent of college students receive a Pell Grant, according to The College Board. Forty-five percent of first-time college students who attend UH received a Pell Grant, according to the University’s 2017-2018 common data set.

UH President and Chancellor Renu Khator said one reason UH’s ranking is so low is because U.S. News looks at expected graduation rates based on SAT and ACT scores. She said U.S. News’ criteria expects higher graduation rates based on UH’s average SAT and ACT scores. 

In 2017, the University’s average SAT score for incoming freshmen was 1207 and the average ACT was 25.1, according to the Office of Institutional Research.

The 2017 class of incoming freshmen has a 54 percent six-year graduation rate, according to the Office of Institutional Research. This correlates with the state average for six-year graduation rates of 53.6 percent, according to Dallas Morning News. Based on these test scores, U.S. News expects the six-year graduation rate from UH to fall more in line with schools who accept comparable scores.

The University of California system dominated the top 10 for public colleges, holding five of the top 10 spots.

In 2015, when he was being sworn in, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said he wanted to bring Texas’ colleges into the top 10 in the nation, according to the Austin-American Statesmen.

This change has yet to occur. The University of Texas at Austin is the closest, ranking No. 15 for public colleges in the nation, while UH is ranked No. 91.


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