How do universities rank on diversity, international impact?

A new ranking from UK-based analyst QS shows that many elite institutions strong on research and employability don't reach the same heights on equity and inclusion.
By: | May 6, 2021
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Harvard University might rank No. 1 overall in the USA University Rankings from London-based higher education analyst QS, but when it comes to the category of “Diversity and Internationalization” it checks in at a tie for 21st place.

With institutions more focused than ever on diversity, equity and inclusion, so too has QS in a revamped list of top U.S. colleges and universities. The company that oversees the esteemed World University Rankings felt it was important again to highlight the category and showcase “which are doing most to reduce sectoral gender and racial inequities.”

“We know that the American higher education sector is wrestling with questions that do not fall within the scope of our global rankings – questions of equity, access, representation, and social justice,” said Jack Moran, QS spokesperson. “The QS USA University Rankings have been carefully crafted to shine some independent light on which institutions are doing most to foster the essential relationship between education and social change.”

That No. 21 ranking for Harvard is hardly a slight on the venerable institution … since more than 350 institutions were rated. Harvard, in fact, still netted 93.3 points overall, led by its perfect scores in “employability” and “research”. It beat out Stanford (88.9), MIT (85.6), UC Berkeley (77.7) and UCLA (77.5) in the top five.

While the top 10 included expected mainstays Yale, Columbia, Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania, New York University managed to gain a spot at No. 9, courtesy of its tie for first with UC Davis in the diversity and internalization category.

QS noted that only six of the top 20 institutions placed in the Top 20 in the diversity category, so there is still work to be done. In fact, UCLA (3rd) and MIT (tied for 9th) were the lone representative from that group to earn a spot in the Top 10. The others: UC San Diego, the University of Illinois-Chicago, Stony Brook University, Rutgers University and a tie between the University of Washington, UC Santa Barbara and the University of Mexico.

There was also a large tie at No. 13 which included UC Berkeley, USC, Emory, the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, the University of Houston and three less well-known institutions on the global stage: the University of Massachusetts-Boston, the City University of New York Hunter Campus and Andrews University in Michigan.

The schools with the highest ethnic diversity, according to QS, were UC Riverside, UC Irvine and the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

In its rankings, QS specifically called out research and tech institutions on gender diversity, noting low female-to-male staffs at MIT (“only 28%”) and Stanford (only 35%”), as well as top 100 institutions the California Institute of Technology and New Jersey Institute of Technology. It gave praise to two liberal arts colleges – Barnard College in New York and Wellesley College in Massachusetts –  for having women represent 60% of its academic staff.

As for the rest of the top 50 overall, they were as follows: the University of Chicago, Cornell, Duke, Johns Hopkins, USC, Northwestern, Carnegie Mellon, University of Michigan, Brown, Boston University, Cal Tech, Emory, Rice, University of Washington, Washington University in St. Louis, Georgetown, UC San Diego, Vanderbilt, University of Texas-Austin, Illinois-Urbana Champaign, University of Rochester, Dartmouth, University of North Carolina, UC Davis, University of Florida, Tufts, Illinois-Chicago, Georgia Tech, Stony Brook, University of Virginia, Case Western Reserve, Rutgers, UC Santa Barbara, Penn State, George Washington, UC Irvine, Notre Dame, University of Miami, Northeastern and Ohio State.

Among the top 10 in the other categories:

Employability: 1. Harvard, 2. Stanford, 3. MIT, 4. Yale, 5. Penn, 6. Columbia, 7. Princeton, 8. UC Berkeley, 9. UCLA, 10. NYU

Learning experience: 1. (Tie) Princeton, Duke, University of Chicago, Cal Tech, Washington University in St. Louis, Emory, 7. (Tie) Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Yale, Penn, Columbia, USC, Northwestern, Georgetown, Carnegie Mellon, Johns Hopkins, Brown, Rice, Vanderbilt.

Research: 1. Harvard, 2. Stanford, 3. UC Berkeley, 4. MIT, 5. UCLA, 6. Columbia, 7. Princeton, 8. Yale, 9. University of Chicago, 10. University of Michigan.