Once again, MU’s ranking has dropped in the U.S. News & World Report list of best national universities.
But a university spokesperson said recent improvements have yet to make their full impact on the rankings, and current students seemed unconcerned by the shift.
MU is tied for 139th place with seven other universities on the list, which was released Monday.
According to previous Missourian reporting, MU ranked 129th in the list released in 2018, continuing a fall from 120th and 111th the previous two years. MU ranked 85th in 2008.
U.S. News & World Report spokesperson Madeline Smanik said MU declined “relative to its peers” in the ranking components for “faculty resources, financial resources, selectivity, graduation rate performance and social mobility.” It improved in the graduation and retention rate category.
MU spokesperson Christian Basi emphasized MU’s improvements in retention rate and student debt.
Because the rankings are calculated using averages over the past two to six years, improvements over the past year might not translate to a dramatic jump right away, Basi said. If improvements continue, as Basi expects them to, it could affect MU’s rank more in the future.
The percentage of students graduating without debt rose from 45% in 2017 to 48% in 2018; for those who did have debt, the average amount dropped by $400, Basi said. U.S. News’ Smanik, however, said the level of student debt is not a factor in their ranking system.
MU has also recently successfully increased scholarships and lowered the costs of room, board and textbooks.
“We know that there’s a lot of good information in the rankings,” Basi said, “and we also listen to students and parents” and other stakeholders in the state “to determine what we need to be delivering on.”
He named “quality and breadth” of individual programs as one factor that might attract students without being reflected in U.S. News & World Report rankings.
Sen. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, said MU’s drop in the rankings is always a concern. He said investment in higher education is down in every state, but that doesn’t mean Missouri shouldn’t work hard to invest when it can. Rowden also noted that the state gave $10 million to the NextGen Precision Health Institute, MU’s planned medical research facility.
“We will keep fighting for core funding for MU and everyone else,” he said.
Several current students said they weren’t aware of the drop in rankings this year. Some didn’t even use the list during their college search.
“My family and I didn’t know about the ranking, and it didn’t factor in my decision-making. If I took a guess Mizzou would rank 100,” said Nathan Schneider, a junior.
“I was not aware we dropped in ranking,” said Julia Igel, a transfer sophomore. “I wouldn’t transfer (away from Mizzou) but for future students to see we dropped in ranking, it could be a factor for them.”
MU’s rank this year is still the third highest in Missouri, outstripped only by Washington University in St. Louis (19th) and Saint Louis University (97th), both private schools.
It ranks ahead of all public national universities in the state including Missouri University of Science and Technology—Rolla (179th), University of Missouri—Kansas City (263rd), University of Missouri—St. Louis (281st) and Missouri State University, which is unranked because it is in the bottom quartile.
Some Missouri public universities are grouped in the regional university category and don’t compete directly with MU.
MU ranked higher in some specific categories. It’s tied as the 99th best college for veterans, tied as the 64th best public school and ranks 90th on the list of best value schools.
Missourian reporter Madelyn Oden contributed to this story.
Supervising editor is Tynan Stewart.