Seven senior colleges and five community colleges at The City University of New York dominated the Chronicle of Higher Education’s top 10 lists of public U.S. campuses with the greatest success in moving low-income students into the middle class. In a separate global assessment of college quality using totally different criteria, three CUNY colleges placed among the top 1,000 colleges among the 27,770 analyzed worldwide.
The Chronicle’s list was drawn from a widely reported study of colleges’ impact on social mobility by a team led by Stanford University economics professor Raj Chetty. Their 2017 paper, “Mobility Report Cards: The Role of Colleges in Intergenerational Mobility” tracked students from nearly every U.S. college, including nongraduates, and measured their subsequent earnings against millions of anonymous tax filings and financial-aid records. They looked to see how well colleges helped students whose parents were in the bottom 20 percent of income levels reach the top 20 percent for individual earnings.
CUNY’s social-mobility track record also factored in Money magazine’s July ranking of five CUNY senior campuses in the top quarter of its “Best Colleges for Your Money”: Baruch College, Brooklyn College, Queens College, Hunter College and John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Money measured colleges by 27 criteria.
“The Chronicle’s and Money’s emphasis on how colleges help propel students up the economic ladder speaks to CUNY’s strength and mission since 1847,” said Chancellor James B. Milliken. “It is also increasingly viewed as one of the most important contributions higher education can make if it is truly to serve as a means of achieving equity. All of us at CUNY take great pride in the University's role in helping generations of low-income, underrepresented and immigrant students succeed.”
In Fall 2016, 42.2 percent of CUNY students overall came from households earning less than $20,000; at the senior colleges, 37.1 percent came from such households, while at community colleges, it was 52.9 percent.
The seven CUNY baccalaureate-level colleges in the top 10 were Baruch College, No.1; City College, No. 2; John Jay College of Criminal Justice, No. 4; City Tech, No. 6; Brooklyn College, No. 7; Hunter College, No. 9; and Queens College, No. 10.
The five CUNY associate-level colleges were Borough of Manhattan Community College, No. 3; LaGuardia Community College, No. 5; Bronx Community College, No. 6; Queensborough Community College, No. 8; and Kingsborough Community College, No. 9.
In the global rankings, the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) says it “publishes the only global university rankings that measure the quality of education and training of students as well as the prestige of the faculty members and the quality of their research without relying on surveys and university data submissions,” as prominent ranking services like U.S. News & World Report do.
CWUR does not consider the Chetty data or similar measures at all. Rather, it gives 25 percent weight each to alumni who are CEOs at top world companies, alumni who won major international awards, and the number of faculty who won international awards, all relative to the university’s size. It gives 5 percent weight each to the number of faculty research papers; their influence as measured by publication in “highly influential” journals; citations measured by the number of highly cited research papers; broad impact as measured by the “h-index,” an author-level metric that attempts to measure both the productivity and citation impact of an author’s publications; and patents, as measured by the number of international patent applications.
Assessing 27,770 degree-granting institutions, CWUR placed three CUNY colleges in the top 1,000: City College, No. 323, in the top 1.2 percent in the world; Hunter College, No. 929, in the top 3.4 percent in the world; and Queens College, No. 955, in the top 3.5 percent in the world.
The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in 1847, the University comprises 24 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, CUNY Graduate Center, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, CUNY School of Law, CUNY School of Professional Studies and CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy. The University serves more than 272,000 degree-seeking students. College Now, the University’s academic enrichment program, is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 400 high schools throughout the five boroughs. The University offers online baccalaureate and master’s degrees through the School of Professional Studies.