UC Berkeley named No. 1 public university

Berkeley campanile at night

The Campanile "dressed" for the Big Game. Photo: The Real Michael Moore, Berkeleyside

August 23, 2018

UC Berkeley remains the nation’s top public university, according to this year’s Academic Ranking of World Universities, or ARWU.

The ARWU also named UC Berkeley the fifth-best university in the world, behind Harvard University, Stanford University, the University of Cambridge and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. UC Berkeley ranked fifth overall last year, which was its lowest rank since the ARWU was first published in 2003.

More than a dozen departments at UC Berkeley placed in the top five in their subject, including physics and statistics, which all ranked second, while electrical engineering, biotechnology and economics all ranked third. The UC Berkeley Department of Chemistry was named the best in the world.

Matthew Francis, chair of the Department of Chemistry, said rankings such as the ARWU help with fundraising and attracting the world’s best scholars. He said he was proud of the students and faculty in his department and happy that their values resonated with AWRU’s metric, but said rankings had little bearing on decisions made within the department.

“The rankings themselves are not a priority,” Francis said. “We prioritize the education of our students, the quality of the program and doing what we think is right in terms of advancing chemistry and the social consciousness around our field.”

The ARWU uses six objective indicators, separated into four categories — quality of education, quality of faculty, research output and “per capita performance” — to make its distinction. Indicators include the number of alumni and staff of an institution winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals and the number of papers published in the journals Science and Nature.

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