Stanford University tops US College Ranking

Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education league table focuses on universities’ teaching environments

September 28, 2016
Stanford University students, Stanford Summit Push 2016
Source: Getty

View the full Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education US College Ranking

Stanford University has topped a new ranking of US universities and colleges that is fuelled by data from Times Higher Education.

The Californian institution takes the number one spot in the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Ranking, which focuses on student engagement, student outcomes and learning environments, while Massachusetts Institute of Technology is second and New York’s Columbia University is third.

The rest of the top 10 is filled by the University of Pennsylvania, Yale University, Harvard University, Duke University, Princeton University, Cornell University and the California Institute of Technology.

The ranking is partly based on the THE US Student Survey, which gathered the views of more than 100,000 current college and university students on a range of issues relating directly to their learning experience, from the extent to which the university supported critical thinking skills to students’ opportunities to interact with academics and their peers.

The league table also draws upon the THE Academic Reputation Survey, in order to determine which institutions have the best reputation for excellence in teaching.

The ranking, which has 15 individual performance indicators, also includes data on universities’ amount of income per student, student-to-staff ratios, graduation rates, and student diversity and inclusion.

Duncan Ross, THE director of data and analytics, said four main components underpin the ranking: resources, which explores the capacity of a college to teach well; student engagement, based on the survey results; outcomes, which measures whether a college successfully achieves desired student outputs; and environment, which looks at universities’ efforts to build a diverse and inclusive environment of students and staff.

He said the inclusion of metrics on engagement and environment made the ranking stand out compared with other US university league tables.

“One of the things that differentiates us is that we are using a national student survey that we’ve commissioned and run,” he said.

“This is a very large-scale attempt to get some genuine student input from across the US. None of the other US rankings have incorporated that to date.”

THE rankings editor Phil Baty added: “This focus on teaching is a very exciting new direction for THE’s ranking – while the renowned THE World University Rankings have a balanced range of metrics which include an examination of the teaching environment, they are dominated by research. This is a pioneering new step towards developing powerful new metrics for teaching which we will apply elsewhere in the world.”

A full analysis of the results of the WSJ/THE College Ranking will be published in THE on 13 October.

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