These university rankings are always given way too much weight, especially US and News (I promise it has nothing to do with them ranking UW 46th in the country), but when I saw a new set of rankings from Middle East Technical University Graduate School of Informatics in Ankara, Turkey that pegs the University of Washington as the eighth best university in the world, and the sixth best in the country, I figured I might as well pass it along.
That makes Washington the third highest school in the Pac-12 (truly the finest set of academic institutions playing top-tier college athletics) behind Stanford (fourth) and Berkeley (fifth), with UCLA just behind the Huskies at ninth. Harvard is unsurprisingly numero uno, with Michigan (sixth) and Oxford (seventh) providing the filling in the Pac-12 sandwich. And that sentence is brought to you by a current student at the eighth best college in the country.
To be fair, this study is pretty specific in considering a university’s research, mostly in the field of science, to determine these rankings. It isn’t measuring the quality of undergraduate education, or even necessarily the quality of the graduate schools or doctorate fields. It analyzes the number of science articles published, the research impact of these articles, the sustainability and continuity of scientific productivity, research quality as determined by both impact of scientific journals and quality of received citations, and the level of international collaboration.
It has long been clear that UW is one of the premier research institutions in the country, and in the world, so the ranking, which is quite a bit higher than UW’s usual placement by other college ranking services (typically around 15-25th in the world), should come as no surprise.
What does this have to do with college athletics? Not a ton. Mostly I figured that a good chunk of Husky fans probably either went to UW, have relatives that have attended the school, or at least have an interest in the educational institution as well as the athletic program. It is certainly plausible, however, that this sort of sky-high ranking could be used by Romar and Sark to persuade recruits that are also stand-out students that UW is a top-notch university.
It isn’t as if this was unclear before this ranking, but it can certainly serve to strengthen the argument. Say there is a basketball recruit that may be a local product, or at least someone who really loves Romar’s program. But say he’s also a top-notch student who wants to earn a degree from a great school. He might, based on preconceived notions, think that means he should head to Stanford or Berkeley. But Romar could use news like this to point out that Washington is certainly on the level of those institutions. And he wouldn’t be wrong.