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But there was bad news for New College of Florida, which fell 24 spots to tie 100th in the liberal arts school rankings amid an overhaul sparked by DeSantis’ appointment of conservative trustees to the struggling campus, the state’s smallest university. from Florida.

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Florida officials, weighing new rankings intended to help students decide where to earn their degrees, boasted that the state has six schools among the top 100 ranked public universities. But they didn’t mention that several schools fell in the rankings.

“The US News and World Report rankings are further endorsement that Florida is leading the nation in higher education,” university system president Ray Rodrigues said in a statement Monday.

The 2023-2024 Best Colleges rankings noted significant changes for many Florida schools that were sparked, at least in part, by US News and World Report experiencing the “most significant methodological change in the history of the rankings.” .

This year, the rankings put greater emphasis on “social mobility and outcomes for graduating college students.”

That means, according to the organization, that more than half of a school’s ranking now depends on measures tied to “enrollment and graduation success of students from all backgrounds with manageable debt” and the “graduate success” of the students. Additionally, five factors were eliminated this year: class size, faculty with terminal degrees, alumni giving, high school class status, and the share of graduates taking out federal loans.

Florida schools felt these changes in different ways.

The University of Florida, for its part, fell to number 6 in the ranking of public universities. The University of South Florida fell three spots to 45th, while Florida State University also fell three spots to 23rd.

Although the US News rankings are an often-praised barometer of Florida leaders, the latest rankings have left some school officials wondering how much weight they should carry in the future.

At FSU, for example, President Richard McCullough characterized the school’s decline, after being ranked in the top 20 for four consecutive years, as “bizarre” and part of a “ranking chaos” in higher education.

“I think it’s a wake-up call in terms of the outside world’s reliance on these rankings as a measure of quality,” McCullough said in an interview with the Tallahassee Democrat.

Similar sentiments have been expressed by UF President Ben Sasse, the former Republican senator from Nebraska who has discussed how much emphasis is placed on rankings. Sasse described himself as a “moderate” on the issue and recently made proposals to faculty about “what is the North Star of the things we organize around” – how UF should measure success – if not the classification. There are other rankings outside of US News, such as the Wall Street Journal, which ranked the University of Florida as its top public university.

“I don’t think we should defer and outsource our judgments about the most important things to any given thing that a rating agency measures,” Sasse said last month during a speech to UF faculty. “Because rating agencies, according to the US News and World report, could go bankrupt or could change their algorithms. And I don’t think we start with the assumption that whatever they’re measuring is exactly the right set of issues.”

Still, the latest US News rankings show improvement at schools like Florida International University, which rose from 72nd to 64th, tying with the University of Central Florida. Florida A&M University ranked 91st, improving 12 spots to reach the top 100 public university mark for the first time. Florida Atlantic University improved 20 spots to 112th.

And in the overall national university rankings, which combine both public and private, the University of Florida improved one spot to No. 28, followed by FSU, which jumped two schools to No. 53. Florida Atlantic University jumped 53 spots to ranked 209th in this category. .

University leaders credited the DeSantis administration and the Florida Legislature for committing state money to universities to help them improve in rankings. The 2023-24 budget includes $100 million specifically for UF, FSU and USF, the state’s top research schools, and $100 million specifically for recruiting and retaining faculty, a priority of the governor.

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