Office of Planning and Budgeting

The Center for World University Rankings has ranked the University of Washington among the top universities in the world. In its inaugural Rankings by Subject, released last week, CWUR ranked the UW in the top 10 worldwide in a total of 45 subject categories. The UW had the ninth-most top-10 appearances of any university, ranking just behind the University of Oxford (47 top-10 appearances) and just ahead of MIT (41).

Unlike most university rankings, CWUR does not make use of data provided by universities themselves. Instead, the CWUR Rankings by Subject are calculated based on the number of research articles published in top-tier journals by an institution’s faculty. CWUR ranked a total of 227 subject areas.

The UW’s top-10 rankings included fields from Acoustics (6th) to Women’s Studies (5th). In all, the UW received top-5 rankings in 22 fields, and its Social Work program was ranked #1 in the world.

More information on CWUR’s methodology is available on their website.

On December 15, 2016, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance released its 2017 list of the top 300 “Best College Values.” Kiplinger’s ranks their top 100 public universities based on both in-state and out-of-state cost of attendance. The University of Washington was ranked #12 among public universities in value for in-state students and #24 among public universities in value for out-of-state students. This continues a history of high rankings for the UW. Over the past five years, the UW has ranked #17 or better for in-state state students, and #28 or better for out-of-state students, each year.

The calculations for Kiplinger’s rankings are based on quality criteria (which account for 55 percent of an institution’s overall ranking) and cost criteria (which account for the remaining 45 percent). Quality criteria include:

  • Measures of competitiveness and selectivity (admission rate, percentage of admitted students who choose to enroll, and ACT and SAT scores of incoming freshman);
  • Four-year graduation rate; and
  • Measures of academic support (freshman retention rate and student-to-faculty ratio).

Cost criteria include:

  • Total cost (including tuition and fees as well as books and room and board, with added points for “schools that reduce the price through need-based [grant] aid” or “knock down the price through non-need-based aid”) and
  • Student indebtedness (students’ average debt at graduation and the percentage of students who borrow).

Because public institutions typically have different tuition rates for in-state and out-of-state students, Kiplinger’s provides two separate rankings. While the quality criteria used in both rankings are the same, only in-state students’ cost of attendance factors into the in-state ranking (and likewise for the out-of-state ranking).

As the Kiplinger’s ranking is based on selectiveness, academic outcomes, and cost, it should not be interpreted as either a “best colleges” list or a “most affordable” list. Among the top 10 public institutions for in-state students, for example, some institutions (e.g., College of William and Mary) are highly selective but more expensive, while others (e.g., University of Florida) have more inclusive admissions and lower four-year graduation rates but are more affordable.

For in-state students, the UW compares strongly with the highest-ranked public institutions on measures of affordability. For example, the UW’s cost of attendance for in-state students, after applying need-based aid, is $7,800 per year. The average cost among the top 10 in-state is 50 percent higher, at $11,700. UW students’ average debt at graduation is also lower, by about $2,000, than the average for top-10 institutions. Although the UW’s admit rate is higher and its four-year graduation rate is lower than some other top institutions’, its relative affordability contributes to a strong ranking (#12 in the nation) for in-state students.

The UW’s higher cost for out-of-state students contributes to an out-of-state ranking of #24. For out-of-state students, the UW’s cost of attendance after need-based aid ($31,800) is slightly higher than the average among top-10 institutions ($31,300).

More information about Kiplinger’s methodology is available on their website.

The Office of Planning & Budgeting has recently published new peer tuition comparisons for the 2016-17 academic year. The new tuition comparisons allow you to see UW tuition rates alongside those of peer institutions.

In the past, OPB has published tuition comparisons for Global Challenge State (GCS) peer institutions. However, more recently OPB has moved away from GCS peer comparisons toward comparisons based on the US News & World Report ranking of Top Public Schools. The 2017 US News ranking is available now (the UW is ranked #16 in the nation). The US News peer comparison group includes all public Research 1 (R1) universities ranked #25 or better; because of ties, and because not all top-25 universities are in the R1 category, there may be more or fewer than 25 institutions in this peer comparison group each year. (In order to make comparisons across time, historical averages are calculated based on the 2017 US News peer list, not the US News list current at the time.)

Comparisons include undergraduate, graduate, MBA, PharmD, law, medicine, and dentistry tuition rates for both resident and nonresident students. Most data are provided through the Association of American Universities Data Exchange (AAUDE). For peer institutions that are not part of AAUDE, we found tuition data on the universities’ websites.

For each tuition category, we provide a list of current tuition rates at each institution, along with a chart comparing UW tuition against the peer group average over the past 5 years. This allows you to look at both the UW’s current rates as well as recent trends, side by side with peers. For example, the UW’s resident undergraduate tuition rate is well below the peer average, partially due to tuition decreases in the last two years. Nonresident undergraduate tuition rates, on the other hand, have tracked closely with the peer average (remaining within 5% of the average over the past five years).

You can see more in the peer tuition comparison file, and find other comparisons on OPB’s Peer Comparisons page. Please contact OPB Institutional Analysis at uwir@uw.edu with any questions.

A new brief from the Office of Planning & Budgeting provides an overview of Activity Based Budgeting (ABB) distribution principles and trends at the UW in Seattle. This brief updates last year’s overview of ABB trends, adding the most recent year’s data. It compares the ABB budgets of Seattle academic units to those of Seattle administrative units over the last six years (FY12-FY17).

OPB’s Institutional Analysis team and UW-IT’s Enterprise Information, Integration & Analytics unit announce seven new peer finance dashboards, available now in UW Profiles. These new dashboards join four existing peer dashboards. Peer dashboards use data publicly available through the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) to allow users to compare the UW to peer institutions around the country on a range of student- and finance-focused measures.

With the new finance dashboards, users can compare revenues, expenses, and endowment values at the UW and peer institutions. They can also explore the relative importance of different revenue sources and expense categories across institutions. The expenses story dashboard provides a step-by-step look at the expenses that directly or indirectly support universities’ research and instruction missions.

More information about each of the new peer finance dashboards is available through the online documentation. Please feel free to send any questions or comments to uwprofiles@uw.edu.

The University of Washington commonly reports undergraduate time to degree, which measures the amount of time that elapses between a student’s first quarter enrolled at the UW and the quarter when she or he earns a UW bachelor’s degree. Undergraduate time to degree at the campus level is available through Public Profiles. A new OPB brief provides a more detailed look at time to degree at the level of student major. This brief allows a comparison of how long students take to graduate, their average degree GPA, and the average number of credits they take, broken out by major, student origin (first-time freshman or transfer student), and number of majors.

Washington State’s Education Research & Data Center (ERDC) recently published the Earnings for Graduates Report, which provides earnings information for graduates from the state’s public institutions. OPB’s latest brief describes where the data for the report came from, discusses some of its limitations, and warns against relying on the report in choosing a program of study.

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) recently released its report on faculty salaries for 2012-2013. Salaries for full-time faculty members rose by an average of 1.7 percent in 2012-2013, which offsets inflation (estimated at 1.7 percent in 2012-13). However, increases varied widely across institution type—pay at private universities was much higher than salaries at public institutions, and professors at doctoral universities made significantly more than faculty at baccalaureate institutions. Furthermore, the survey counts only faculty members who are employed full-time; part-time adjuncts, whose pay is generally significantly lower than that of full-time professors, are excluded.

Inside Higher Ed has compiled a list of the highest-paid full professors in academia.  Based on the average salary of full professors, Columbia University ($212,300), Stanford University ($207,300), University of Chicago ($203,600), Harvard University ($203,000) and Princeton University ($200,000) are the top five highest-paying institutions. Of the ten universities with the highest average pay, not a single institution is public. The highest-paid full professors at public institutions are at University of California, Los Angeles, ($167,000), New Jersey Institute of Technology ($166,700), University of California, Berkeley ($158,900), Rutgers University at Newark ($154,700) and Rutgers University at New Brunswick ($151,000).

Detailed information about the UW’s submission to AAUP can be found here. In addition, OPB has prepared a table that compares UW average faculty salaries to those at our Global Challenge State (GCS) peer institutions. UCLA and Rutgers University, whose full professors are some of the highest paid in academia, are both in the GCS peer group. According to our analysis, average faculty salaries (of full, associate, and assistant professors combined) would need to increase by 11.4 percent to equal the GCS peer average. The average salary of full professors would need to increase 16 percent and that of associate professors would need to increase 9.2 percent to equal the peer average. As can be seen on the graph below, the UW’s salaries moved closer to those of the GCS peers between 2003 and 2008, but this progress reversed in 2009, when the legislature imposed a four-year salary freeze.

Yesterday, the Office of Financial Management, in partnership with the Council of Presidents and the Department of Enterprise Services, published an updated version of the Statewide Public Four-Year Dashboard. The Dashboard displays institution- and state-level data on student enrollment, progress, and degree production to help better inform policy makers and the general public.

More information about the Dashboard and the data it displays (drawn from the Public Centralized Higher Education Enrollment System) is available in two OPB briefs:

US News and World Report released its annual college rankings Tuesday and the UW dropped from 42 to 46 in the National Universities category, and from 10 to 13 among public universities.

This drop isn’t as severe as it might seem. As noted by the Seattle Times, this change is a relatively small one. In the rankings, many universities may have equal scores and so share a numeric rank. This year, for example, there are five institutions that are ranked 46th.  Last year, there were several institutions ranked 42nd. Only one institution is now ranked above the UW that was not ranked above or tied with the UW last year: UC Irvine.

Ranks are calculated by weighting a number of factors:

  1. Undergraduate academic reputation
  2. Retention
  3. Graduation rate
  4. Faculty Resources
  5. Student selectivity
  6. Spending per student
  7. Alumni giving

Interestingly, the factor for which the UW shows the greatest deviation from other similarly ranked institutions is “Faculty Resources.” While the UW is ranked 46th overall, it is ranked 150th in terms of faculty resources. The two most heavily weighted measures in faculty resources are:

  1. The percentage of classes with fewer than 20 students, and
  2. Average faculty salary.

Given the recent economic situation faced by the UW, it is not surprising that these are problematic measures for us.

In summary, the UW’s ranking has dropped, but the significance of that drop is low. Moreover, the UW’s low ranking on the key “Faculty Resources” factor is to be expected given the salary freeze and state funding cuts the UW has experienced during the Great Recession.

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