BY HEYUN JEONG
UC Berkeley ranked sixth in the world in the 2014 Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings, a step down from fifth place both last year and the year before.
Released on March 6, this ranking differs from other, more quantitative rankings in that it embraces subjectivity by acting as a compilation of expert opinions and judgments of senior figures in academia. A total of four UC campuses placed in the top 50, including UCLA at 10th place, UC San Francisco at 32nd and UC Davis at 40th.
“At the end of the day, all these ratings are telling us in the Berkeley community is something we already know,” said campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof, who noted UC Berkeley’s recurring status as “the best public university on the planet.”
For the survey, more than 10,500 leading peer-reviewed scholars in 133 countries identified up to 15 institutions they believed to be “the best,” with questions such as, “Which university would you send your most talented graduates to for the best postgraduate supervision?”
On a scale of 100 points divided between reputation in research and teaching at a 2:1 ratio, UC Berkeley received a score of 63.1. Harvard University, at first place, was selected most often and given a score of 100, setting the curve by which other universities were scored. UC Berkeley received 63.1 percent of the nominations Harvard received. Yale University trailed at eighth place, with a score of 30.9.
To most accurately round out the survey, respondents were selected from a variety of subject disciplines and from across the globe.
The Reputation Rankings is a spinoff of Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings, in which UC Berkeley ranks eighth. Revealed last October, that ranking takes a more holistic view, considering standardized data on factors such as citation numbers, student-to-faculty ratios and industry income, among others.
Although some may question the significance and credibility of such rankings, university reputations are closely monitored by not only prospective students and their families but also scholars, philanthropists and businesses deciding where to invest their research and funding, according to Times Higher Education.
For international students looking to study in the United States in particular, school name tends to be of even greater importance, as they weigh the additional costs and risks of moving abroad against the lofty prestige of the name.
“If you’re studying abroad and the school you’re attending is not that great of a school, others will think of that as pointless or just a waste of money,” said first-year international student Jiwoo Lee. “They won’t acknowledge you (in the workplace) as well.”
Though Mogulof acknowledged the slight fall from last year, he said there are always “minor shifts” in these rankings, which may not be wholly representative of UC Berkeley’s esteem.
“I don’t think any of the ratings fully capture what makes Berkeley so special, (which is) a combination of access, comprehensive excellence and something that’s hard to measure: public ethos and our deep engagement with the world around us,” Mogulof said.