New York University recently experienced a notable drop
in the U.S. News & World Report's (USNWR) national university rankings. The university, which had been consistently working its way to the top ranks, fell ten spots from its previous 25th position to now share the 35th spot with the University of California Santa Barbara, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
This decline marks NYU's first drop in the rankings since 2020 and the most significant since 2016. In addition to this general ranking drop, NYU also saw a decrease in its "Best Value"
ranking, landing at 66th place. This contrasts with the performance of other peer institutions in the State of New York, such as Columbia University and Cornell University, which saw their positions substantially improved.
According to NYU spokesperson John Beckman
, the reliance of the USNWR on past data that did not account for recent university development, explaining for the poor performance of the university on the most recent ranking. Berkman pointed to the unaccounted for university’s efforts to meet 100% of students' demonstrated financial need and its growing global presence. He suggested that the university ranking should be analyzed independently and not compared with past rankings due to the significant changes enacted by the USNWR on its evaluation methodology.
The revised ranking formula underwent significant adjustments
, with particular attention given to certain key factors. These changes included placing greater importance on graduation rates among students who received need-based Pell grants and improving retention rates. Additionally, the methodology introduced new metrics related to the success of first-generation college students and the earning potential of recent graduates compared to those with only a high school diploma. These modifications had an impact, particularly on institutions like NYU that occupied intermediate positions in the previous rankings. Notably, factors that previously accounted for 18% of its ranking weight, such as alumni giving as a criterion and undergraduate class sizes, were removed. Other changes included the increased importance given to factors like the student-faculty ratio, the ratio of full-time to part-time faculty, and student borrower debt as well as new additions. One particularly surprising addition was the incorporation of peer assessment. In this element, education experts like presidents, provosts, and deans of admissions, rate the academic quality of peer institutions
. This calls into question the new methodology’s potential for bias as it is based on personal viewpoints rather than statistically proven data.
Questions are now being raised as to whether NYU Abu Dhabi, when assessed independently from NYU, could achieve a higher ranking. However, doubts loom over this prospect due to the influence of subjective factors, like peer assessment, which hold significant weight in the rankings.
Noora Alozaibi is Deputy News Editor. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.