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QS World University Rankings Name UC San Diego Nation’s 6th Best Public University

UC San Diego was named the nation’s 6th best public university by QS World University Rankings. Photo Credit: Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego.


  • Amanda Rubalcava

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  • Amanda Rubalcava

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The University of California San Diego has been named the nation’s sixth best public university by QS World University Rankings, which released their inaugural list of America’s top universities based on diversity, employability and internationalization on May 20. The first annual QS World University Rankings: USA listed UC San Diego third among public universities in California.

“UC San Diego consistently receives high marks in national rankings for the exceptional talents of our faculty and researchers, the wide breadth of their impactful research, and for our commitment to expand educational opportunity and academic success for students from underserved communities,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “Our billion-dollar research enterprise imparts a service-oriented, global outlook into all of our research and teaching. This approach promises greater social mobility for our students, graduates and their communities."

Published by global higher education research company QS Quacquarelli Symonds, the new ranking evaluates universities across 17 metrics in four broad groupings: diversity and internationalization, learning experience, employability of graduates and impact of research. The methodology considers factors such as alumni outcomes, academic reputation and retention rate, as well as efforts toward supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

A Commitment to Equity and Diversity

Within the diversity and internationalization category, UC San Diego tied for the fourth spot nationwide with Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Columbia University. This category, which equates to 25 percent of a university’s score, takes into account indicators such as a university’s gender pay gap, proportion of international students, faculty gender diversity, student ethnic diversity and ratio of students receiving Pell Grants.

As a roadmap to shape the university’s future, UC San Diego is committed to its Strategic Plan for Inclusive Excellence, which is a campuswide effort to continue cultivating a learning and working environment where all feel welcomed and valued. Core tenants of this framework include supporting a diverse faculty, staff and student body that represent the rich diversity of California. In closing the gap that hinders social mobility, UC San Diego also partners with American Talent Initiative (ATI) to expand opportunity for low-and moderate-income students, having added 1,642 Pell students over the last three years (data as of February 2020).

UC San Diego excels in providing undergraduates with a place of belonging and network of support. Students have access to an array of campus community and student centers, including the Black Resource Center, Women’s Center, Raza Resource Centro and LGBT Resource Center. For those facing challenges with access to adequate food, stable housing or general financial resources, UC San Diego has recently launched The Hub Basic Needs Center to connect students to mobile food pantries, housing assistance and more.

A Leading Enterprise for Research and Innovation

UC San Diego was named fifth in the country among public universities in the ranking’s research category, which accounts for 26 percent of an institution’s overall score. To evaluate the quality and impact of a university’s research, the assessment considered academic reputation, citations per paper, international diversity in terms of research collaboration as well as successful collaborations with global companies.

Driven by a culture of academic excellence, UC San Diego consistently produces cutting-edge research in areas ranging from medicine and biochemistry to climate change and nanotechnology. As the coronavirus became a global pandemic, the university begun conducting research in order to better understand and ultimately combat the virus. This April, researchers at UC San Diego Health were the first to report empirical findings that strongly associate sensory loss with COVID-19. Further, researchers at the university’s School of Medicine have launched a new mobile platform called “MyWellnessCheck” in an effort to understand how the current pandemic is affecting mental health and well-being on a global scale.

Preparing the Next Generation of Changemakers

As a designated Changemaker Campus by Ashoka U, UC San Diego is recognized as a global leader in social innovation education. Students are provided with highly innovative educational experiences and opportunities that open the door for creating positive global change. Amid stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 outbreak, the campus community continues to launch impactful initiatives in the name of public service. In recent weeks, UC San Diego changemakers have launched a pen pal program for seniors to combat loneliness, delivered face masks to those in need and kept student voters engaged during this challenging time

The inaugural QS World University Rankings: USA is also designed to measure how higher education institutions around the country respond to prominent social, intellectual and economic challenges. To that effect, UC San Diego continues to serve as a model for higher education in its effort to stem the spread of COVID-19. Earlier this month, the university launched its landmark “Return to Learn” program, which is intended to better position UC San Diego to resume in-person activities when fall classes begin in September 2020.

For more information on the QS World University Rankings: USA, go to the QS Top Universities website. For more information on UC San Diego’s rankings, go to the Campus Profile.

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