Univ. of Florida slips from 5th to 6th in prestigious college rankings

by | Sep 18, 2023

  • The University of Florida (UF) ranked sixth in the U.S. News and World Report’s annual ranking of public universities, slipping out of the top five for the first time in two years and tying with the University of California, Davis, and the University of California, San Diego.
  • U.S. News made significant changes to its ranking methodology, with more emphasis on social mobility and student outcomes, where over half of an institution’s rank is now determined by outcome measures related to student success and manageable debt.
  • UF still holds the highest ranking among Florida colleges, surpassing Florida State University by 17 spots.

The University of Florida (UF) was named the sixth-best public university in U.S. News and World Report’s annual ranking of higher education institutions, placing outside of the top five for the first time in two years.

Tied with the University of California, Davis and the University of California, San Diego, UF’s slight tumble in the ranking comes as U.S. News implemented sweeping changes to its methodology by placing a greater emphasis on social mobility and outcomes for graduating college students.

According to the company, more than half of an institution’s rank is now comprised of varying outcome measures related to success in enrolling and graduating students from all backgrounds with manageable debt and post-graduate success. Moreover, five factors were removed: class size, faculty with terminal degrees, alumni giving, high school class standing, and the proportion of graduates who borrow federal loans.

“The significant changes in this year’s methodology are part of the ongoing evolution to make sure our rankings capture what is most important for students as they compare colleges and select the school that is right for them,” said U.S. News CEO Eric Gertler

UF still boasts the highest placement of any college in Florida, public or private, and sits 17 spots higher than Florida State University, the state’s second-highest-placed school. The University of South Florida ranked 45th among all public schools, continuing its academic momentum, while Florida International University and the University of Central Florida both tied at 64th. The University of Miami, Florida’s most prominent private university, ranked 67th nationally.

Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal named UF as the top public school in America in its own proprietary college ranking.

Despite the one-spot drop, last week UF reported a 15 percent increase in research spending for Fiscal Year 2023, totaling $1.25 billion. The record expenditure level comes one year after the university surpassed $1 billion in spending for the first time.

The figure was largely driven by $530 million in spending on projects funded by the federal government and nearly $200 million in state and local government investments, both of which are 13 percent increases compared to the year prior.

UF also exceeded $1 billion in external awards for the first time in its history, comprised of contributions from the federal government ($792 million), state and local governments ($77 million), private foundations ($98 million), and industry partners ($61 million).

With the spending metric, UF becomes one of 35 public and private institutions in the United States with annual research spending exceeding $1 billion. In the most recent Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) report, based on 2021 data, UF ranked 16th among public universities and 27th overall.

Broadly speaking, UF accounts for approximately 40 percent of the State University System’s $2.3 billion in annual research spending. Recent studies estimate that research conducted at Florida’s state universities contributes around $4 billion to the statewide economy.


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