The University of Virginia was named the No. 2 public university in the country — up one spot from last year’s No. 3 ranking — in the U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 college rankings. Last month, Business Insider ranked the University the top public university in the nation, while the Princeton Review named the University among its 381 best colleges in a list that does not rank colleges numerically.
U.S. News has released Best College rankings since 1983, and the University has consistently ranked among the top three public schools in the nation. This year, the University shares the No. 2 spot with the University of California-Los Angeles, which previously tied with the University in 2014 before the University fell in the rankings last year. Both schools came behind the University of California-Berkeley, which U.S. News ranked first in the nation.
University President Teresa Sullivan credited this year’s higher ranking to endeavors made by the administration.
“I do believe one of the changes was the determined effort by the administration and the Board [of Visitors] to raise faculty salaries, because one place where we moved up was in resources per faculty member,” Sullivan said in an interview with The Cavalier Daily. “I think that’s something that certainly helped us.”
The U.S. News rankings are released in part to help prospective college students better evaluate their options when looking at where to spend their collegiate career.
The University also ranked No. 24 overall out of the 310 public, private and nonprofit “national universities” which were considered in the ranking.
The official U.S. News rankings are based on a number of factors, including graduation and retention rates, faculty strength, student selectivity, financial expenditures, graduate rate performance and alumni giving.
Sullivan noted the rankings depend largely on input measures — or variables relating to incoming students — rather than output measures, partially attributing the improvement in ranking to the caliber of incoming students.
“We continue to get great students,” Sullivan said.
Eighty-nine percent of the University’s 2015 incoming class graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school classes.
In addition, the University had the best average first-year retention rate at 97 percent and the top 2015 graduation rate at 93 percent.
The University was also listed as No. 5 among public universities in U.S. News’s “Best Value” category.