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Social Mobility Index shows solid improvement by UNLV

Even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to create economic uncertainty, UNLV is working to advance the social mobility of its students, a new ranking of higher education institutions finds.

UNLV surged to the top 10% in CollegeNet, Inc.’s 2020 Social Mobility Index, an annual analysis that ranks four-year U.S. colleges and universities according to how effectively they enroll students from under-resourced backgrounds and graduate them into well-paying jobs.

“UNLV graduates make important contributions every day in almost every industry, and we’re proud to be recognized within the nation’s top 10 percent for social mobility,” UNLV President Keith Whitfield said. “But it’s more than just a ranking for us, as it reinforces our core mission to improve lives through education.”

UNLV jumped 50 spots in 2020’s index to rank 131 out of more than 1,400 schools across the country, after ranking 185 in 2019. The annual ranking measures tuition cost, economic background of the university’s student body, graduation rate, early career salaries and the university’s endowment.

The ranking also comes at a time when UNLV’s enrollment is holding steady despite the COVID-19 pandemic, and first-year retention figures are at an all-time high of 79.8%.

“Earning a degree is a life-changing event for all who achieve it, but particularly for the nearly one-third of our students who are the first in their family to attend college,” Whitfield said. “As an urban research university with one of the most diverse undergraduate populations, our greatest purpose is to help our students get to the finish line and reach their limitless potential. We work hard every day to make that happen.”

CollegeNet, Inc. said in a press release that its annual Social Mobility Index is an effort “to redirect the attribution of ‘prestige’ in our higher education system toward colleges that are advancing economic opportunity and social mobility.” They noted UNLV’s rise to the top 10% in this year’s ranking as a “notable” achievement.

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