Education

University of Iowa, Iowa State lose ground in global rankings

Slip aligns with drop among U.S. institutions

(File photo) The Old Capitol Building between Schaeffer Hall (left) and Macbride Hall (right) on the Pentacrest on campus of the University of Iowa in Iowa City on Wednesday, April 30, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
(File photo) The Old Capitol Building between Schaeffer Hall (left) and Macbride Hall (right) on the Pentacrest on campus of the University of Iowa in Iowa City on Wednesday, April 30, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Both of Iowa’s public research universities again placed among the world’s elite, according to U.S. News & World Report’s latest ranking of top global universities.

But the University of Iowa and Iowa State University slipped several spots from last year, coinciding with dips they experienced in September when U.S. News updated its list of top American colleges and universities.

According to the new global rankings — which order the top 1,250 institutions across 75 countries based on 13 indicators measuring academic research performance and reputation — the UI ranked No. 159, down from No. 153 last year. Iowa State ranked No. 212, down from No. 204 last year.

Earlier this fall, U.S. News ranked UI at No. 38 among the country’s public universities, down from No. 31 last year. Among all national universities, it fell from No. 78 last year to No. 89 this year.

Likewise, Iowa State saw its footing slip among public universities from No. 53 to No. 56 this year. Among all 312 universities ranked by the publication, Iowa State dropped from No. 115 to No. 119. In 2015, Iowa State ranked No. 108 nationally and No. 47 among public universities.

The University of Northern Iowa, the state’s third public university, is not ranked nationally overall or among public schools or global research institutions. It held steady this year in the Midwest region at No. 25 overall and No. 2 among public schools.

All three of Iowa’s public universities have been struggling with budget cuts — lawmakers in two consecutive Legislative sessions took back millions of promised appropriations during the middle or near the end of the budget years.

When combined with pared down support at the start of the 2018 budget year, the state has decreased funding for public higher education in Iowa by $35 million since the start of the 2017 budget year. The cuts prompted the University of Iowa to freeze faculty pay, halt new campus construction, close centers and increase tuition.

Iowa State, similarly, rejected faculty raises last year, delayed deferred maintenance projects and ramped up costs for students — even as enrollment has surged in recent years.

UI administrators, upon learning in September of its national rankings slide, cited dwindling resources.

“Resources do matter, and without adequate resources from the state, we aren’t able to make the needed investments in student outcomes that would lead to higher rankings by U.S. News & World Report and other ranking organizations,” Harreld said in a September statement provided to The Gazette. “Without increased commitment from our state government partners and increased tuition, it will be increasingly difficult to make the kinds of investments needed to improve student outcomes.”

Despite their overall declines on the global scale, both the UI and Iowa State saw some increases in individual disciplines. Iowa State’s agricultural sciences earned a No. 32 ranking in the world, up from No. 34. Its plant and animal science ranking improved from an already-high No. 28 to No. 23.

But Iowa State lost ground in several areas, like social sciences and public health — which fell from No. 259 to No. 283. Its microbiology ranking dropped from No. 168 to No. 186.

The UI reported improvement in neuroscience and behavior, rising from No. 110 to No. 94, and in molecular biology and genetics, from No. 184 to No. 155.

It lost ground in several areas, including psychiatry and psychology, from No. 68 to No. 81, and in physics, from No. 143 to No. 169.

l Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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