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Global powerhouse: UAB again ranked as nation’s best young university, one of top worldwide

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) has been ranked the top young university in the United States for the second consecutive year and now achieved prestigious global recognition as one of the best young universities worldwide.

A press release on Wednesday announced that UAB secured its spot as the 12th-best young university in the world in the Times Higher Education 2019 Young University Rankings, in addition to maintaining its place atop the American rankings.

Times Higher Education’s university rankings are among the world’s most comprehensive, balanced and trusted. They are considered a vital resource trusted by academics, students, their families, industry and governments globally — in other words, UAB is now a juggernaut on the international stage.

Ray L. Watts, president of UAB, commented, “The dedication and hard work of our faculty, staff, students, alumni and community supporters have once again enabled this prestigious recognition for our great institution.”

“All of these groups continue to contribute to our growing momentum,” he outlined. “Together, we continue to make tremendous strides in education, research and every pillar of our mission, in keeping with UAB’s shared values of collaboration, excellence and achievement. I celebrate and share this tremendous honor with our UAB community, and I express our sincere thanks to all of those who came before us and formed the strong foundation we work tirelessly every day to honor and build upon.”

Times Higher Education rankings are based on stringent metrics. The group ranked more than 300 institutions from 60 different countries in this year’s Young University Rankings, which employ the same rigorous indicators as the Times Higher Education World University Rankings — with young universities measured across their teaching, research, citations, international outlooks and industry outcomes.

Universities 50 years of age and under are eligible to be included in the Young Universities ranking. The methodology for those considered Young Universities has been carefully recalibrated, with less emphasis on reputation since younger universities are still building their reputations.

“To be recognized again by Times Higher Education is a tremendous honor for our institution,” Suzanne Austin, UAB senior international officer, said. “Global recognitions — especially those as prestigious and respected as Times Higher Education — are another reason international students choose UAB as their educational home.”

UAB, which spans more than 100 city blocks — roughly a quarter of downtown Birmingham — is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

With almost 22,000 students and more than 23,000 faculty and staff, UAB has grown into the largest single employer in Alabama, with an annual economic impact exceeding $7.15 billion.

The university boasts many nationally ranked programs, with 16 graduate and professional programs in the schools of Health Professions, Nursing, Medicine, Engineering, Education, Business and Public Health and the College of Arts and Sciences all ranked in the 2020 U.S. News Best Graduate School Rankings. The Master’s in Health Administration program in the School of Health Professions has been ranked as the best in the country.

“We expect our growth to continue, and our strategic plan, Forging the Future, will continue to enhance our ability to meet the opportunities and the challenges we will face,” Pam Benoit, UAB provost, advised.

With annual research expenditures exceeding a record $572 million, UAB continues to create new knowledge and solve critical worldwide issues.

UAB is a leader in federal research funding, ranking 21st in the nation in National Institutes of Health funding to climb 10 places on the NIH rankings in the past five years. During that time period, UAB’s total NIH funding rose more than $100 million, topping the $234 million mark in 2018. Only seven other academic medical centers in the United States increased their NIH funding by more than $100 million during that same timeframe, placing UAB among an elite group of eight academic medical centers.

Additionally, UAB Hospital, the centerpiece of the UAB Health System, is among the 20 largest hospitals in the United States. UAB Hospital’s American College of Surgeons Verified Adult Level 1 Trauma Center is the only one of its kind in Alabama. UAB Hospital and clinics saw more than a million patient visits last year. The U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals report listed 10 of UAB’s medical specialties in the nation’s top 50 programs of their kind, and UAB also has the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center, the only NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center in Alabama and a five-state region.

“It’s quite remarkable the positive, global change our university has accomplished in 50 short years in education, research, innovation, economic development, community engagement and patient care. Our faculty are among the best in the United States, and our rigorous and diverse curriculum is appealing to students, especially in today’s higher-education environment,” Benoit concluded.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn