UC-Berkeley: We 'apparently overlooked' new college ranking reporting guidelines

Alumni giving data accounts for 5 percent in the ranking system.

According to U.S. News, UC-Berkeley "greatly overstated" alumni giving data.

U.S. News says UC-Berkeley incorrectly reported data used in the annual college ranking.

The University of California-Berkeley has been taken off of the U.S. News 2019 Best Colleges rankings after U.S. News says it handed over incorrect alumni contributions data.

According to U.S. News, UC-Berkeley misreported alumni giving rates, telling U.S. News that the giving rate for fiscal years 2016 and 2017 was 11.6 percent when the actual rate of giving for 2016 was 7.9 percent.

UC-Berkeley also admitted to U.S. News that the incorrect reporting dates all the way to 2014, and was due to the university including alumni pledges for giving to the school, which is not what U.S. News uses in their ranking metrics.

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A letter sent to UC-Berkeley by U.S. News states that the university included alumni pledges and tax-deductible charitable gifts in their submission, rather than including the number of alumni donors who gave “cash” gifts that qualified.

According to U.S. News, UC-Berkeley “greatly overstated” their alumni giving data, which counts for 5 percent of the ranking system that U.S. News uses to determine their list.

Because of this error, UC-Berkeley has been taken off of the list, and placed in the Best Colleges “unranked” category.

U.S. News states that the university will remain on the “unranked” column until the 2020 Best Colleges list is released, given that UC-Berkeley confirms the accuracy of the data submitted for that list.

For the next three years, the Chancellor and President of UC-Berkeley will have to certify the accuracy of the submissions given to U.S. News

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The 2020 Best Colleges rankings will be published in September, and U.S. News is requesting that UC-Berkeley certifies their submission by Aug. 5.

Prior to being taken off the list, UC-Berkeley held the number 2 spot, according to Forbes.

In addition to UC-Berkeley being taken off the list, the University of North Carolina-Pembroke, Mars Hill University, and Scripps College were also put in the “unranked” column.

”UC-Berkeley recently discovered an issue with the reporting of its alumni giving rate to U.S. News for the purposes of institutional ranking. As soon as we were aware of the matter, we reported it to U.S. News and provided corrected data,” UC-Berkeley Manager of Science Communications Bob Sanders told Campus Reform. 

”From our research, it appears that beginning in 2014 U.S. News required universities to report only cash donations (rather than cash donations plus multi-year pledges) as submitted to the nationally recognized Voluntary Support of Education (VSE) Survey. The then-new change in methodology was apparently overlooked, as we continued using the previously existing U.S. News reporting guidelines,” Sanders continued. “We regret the oversight and look forward to working with U.S. News regarding any additional steps that need to be taken.”

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