AUSTIN, Texas—Only Harvard University and Stanford University ranked higher than The University of Texas at Austin on a recent statewide survey designed to determine, among other things, what people consider to be the leading universities in the United States.
“The major reason for rating The University of Texas at Austin so highly was familiarity with it,” said Dr. Robert A. Peterson, the John T. Stuart III Centennial Chair In Business at the university’s Red McCombs School of Business. Peterson said many people either knew somebody who has attended The University of Texas at Austin or they attended the university themselves.
But The University of Texas at Austin also drew high marks for its general reputation, for providing the highest quality of education for students and for attracting the best faculty to teach students.
“In general, we find that about a third of the people surveyed think The University of Texas at Austin is one of the best universities in the United States,” said Peterson. He said the survey was conducted in November and December by the Bureau of Business Research and AustinTrends, an independent survey research company in Austin. It was commissioned by The University of Texas at Austin to be a source of information for the Commission of 125, a 227-member group of citizens who will express a vision of how The University of Texas at Austin can best serve Texas and society during the next 25 years.
Peterson said the survey involved 1,003 Texas adults of diverse backgrounds and from all regions of the state who were interviewed by telephone in November and December. To ensure objectivity, the survey participants were not told the survey was sponsored by The University of Texas at Austin. Bilingual interviewers were used where appropriate and standard, accepted research procedures and techniques were employed.
When compared with 11 other leading universities on a 10-point rating scale, the positive rating of The University of Texas at Austin is surpassed only by the ratings of Harvard and Stanford universities. The most prominent characteristics defining a great university, according to the survey participants, are providing the highest quality education for its students, attracting the best faculty to teach students, building character and promoting ethical behavior, providing opportunities for life-long education and career development, and building new generations of leaders.
Perceived strengths of The University of Texas at Austin include good faculty, good academic programs and good athletic programs. The university is most frequently associated with athletics, especially football.
The survey found there is virtual consensus (94 percent) that a degree conferred by The University of Texas at Austin is highly valued and that the university has a positive impact on the state of Texas.
The University of Texas at Austin is believed to provide its students with the highest quality education available. It also is believed the university community is ethnically diverse.
Survey participants also were given an opportunity to offer advice to Dr. Larry R. Faulkner, president of the university. About 30 percent of the advice focused on making the university more affordable through more financial aid and scholarships. At the same time, however, many people asked that the university’s high standards should not be lowered.
Typical reasons given by the survey participants when explaining why they believed The University of Texas at Austin is one of the best universities in the United States include:
- “State university, very large school, lower tuition, very good value for education.”
- “Availability; number and type of programs; the professors; the reputation.”
- “Because I live in Texas and I know it’s good.”
- “I know a lot of people that went there.”
- “Good reputation.”
When survey participants were asked to report what they perceived to be major weaknesses of The University of Texas at Austin, 492 participants (49 percent) were able to mention at least one perceived weakness. A majority of the survey participants (51 percent) said they could not think of any weakness of The University of Texas at Austin. Some of these survey participants said the university simply did not have any weaknesses. Among the perceived weaknesses of the university are its large size, a general party atmosphere and an emphasis on sports over academics.
For more information contact: Robert D. Meckel, 512-475-7847, or Don Hale, 512-471-3151.