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December 23, 2013 at 5:00 AM

WWU top-ranked for efficiency and quality

WWU campus (Photo by Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times 2011)

WWU campus (Photo by Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times 2011)

The latest take on college rankings from U.S. News & World Report makes Western Washington University a state standout.

The new ranking attempts to find schools that “were able to produce the highest educational quality, as determined by their place in the 2014 Best Colleges rankings, but spend relatively less on educational programs to achieve that quality,” according to Robert Morse, the magazine’s director of data research.

The magazine came up with the ranking by taking each school’s 2012 fiscal year financial resources, and dividing it by the school’s overall U.S. News Best Colleges score. The Best Colleges score is derived through a formula U.S. News created that is based on academic quality and the magazine’s own view of what matters in education. The Best Colleges rankings have long been controversial precisely because, some critics saythey reward schools that raise prices and shut out all but the most privileged applicants. 

As for the efficiency and quality ranking, “This calculation reveals how much each school is spending to achieve one point in the overall score and its position in the rankings,” Morse wrote.

According to U.S. News, Western spends $211.86 per student for each point on the U.S. News overall score. 

Just five regional universities in the West were singled out on this list; the other four are state schools in California.

Regional universities offer a full range of undergraduate programs and some master’s degree programs, but few doctoral programs. National universities are defined as schools that also offer Ph.D. programs; the University of Washington and Washington State University are both national universities.

Only 20 national universities were singled out on U.S. News’ efficiency list, none in Washington. The only Northwest school that made the national list was the University of Oregon.

The best national school in the U.S. for quality and efficiency, according to U.S. News? Florida State University in Tallahassee.

Comments | More in News | Topics: higher ed, U. S. News & World Report, Western Washington University

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