A new U.S. News & World Report scale recognizes Virginia Tech as an institution that will appeal to students "who plan to enroll in universities outside of their own country," a rating designed to show where U.S. universities "stand globally," according to the publication.
Out of 100 top-rated subject areas, Virginia Tech's highest-ranked program is engineering at No. 64, while plant and animal science registers at No. 80.
The 2015 U.S. News Best Global Universities ranking focuses on academic research with an attempt to quantify three factors: global and regional reputation, research performance based on citations and publications, and data on faculty and Ph.D. graduates.
In his October 2014 installation speech, Virginia Tech President Timothy D. Sands articulated a goal that Virginia Tech "will become a top-100 global research institution" by 2022.
"We are on the path toward global distinction," says Guru Ghosh, vice president for Outreach and International Affairs. "This top-100 recognition of two of our academic programs is a strong foundation – and it illustrates the 'great momentum in scholarship since 2000' that President Sands refers to. Our academic research and publications record is growing phenomenally such that we expect to see our global reputation growing in disciplines beyond engineering and the sciences."
On the U.S. News list, the university's overall ranking is No. 248 of 500 universities.
An indication of Virginia Tech's international presence is the more than 300 memos of understanding, or MOUs, in place that inform joint projects with universities around the world. Such agreements are in place in Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Australia.
At Shandong University in China, for instance, Virginia Tech operates an international engineering laboratory in collaboration with researchers there. In Chile, the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine has had a long relationship with Austral University, including a student and faculty exchange program – a union that recently expanded to include a faculty research partnership.
Two other initiatives vital to cementing Virginia Tech's regional reputation are the following:
- The Steger Center for International Scholarship in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland, which recently underwent a $2.6 million renovation. The center is the university’s primary campus abroad.
- Virginia Tech's research laboratory at the campus – called VT, India – which opened in May. The 6,000-square-foot lab is operated by the Center for Energy Harvesting Materials and Systems and the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science.
The College of Engineering received another positive ranking recently, achieving its highest rating in the National Science Foundation's report on engineering schools' research expenditures. The college's more than $214 million in research expenditures for fiscal year 2013 put it in the No. 9 spot.
The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences also climbed in National Science Foundation rankings. With more than $101 million in research expenditures in agricultural sciences for fiscal year 2013, the college moved to sixth place in the country, up from seventh in previous years.