better than all the rest

Houston school recognized as among the top institutions in the nation

Rice University has again topped a list of the best schools in the country. Photo courtesy of Rice University

Houston's Rice University continues to burnish its reputation in higher education.

A ranking released May 5 by QS Quacquarelli Symonds, a British company that specializes in higher education data, puts Rice at No. 23 among the top colleges and universities in the U.S. It's the highest-rated Texas school on the list.

Harvard University appears at No. 1 in the ranking, followed by Stanford University; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); the University of California, Berkeley; and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Elsewhere in Texas:

  • The University of Texas at Austin ranks 29th.
  • Texas A&M University in College Station ranks 64th.
  • The University of Houston ranks 66th.
  • The University of Texas at Dallas ranks 83rd.

To come up with its ranking, QS Quacquarelli Symonds looked at five factors for more than 350 colleges and universities around the country: employability, learning experience, diversity and internationalization, and research.

Here's how Rice fares in each of those categories:

  • Employability, No. 42.
  • Learning experience, No. 7.
  • Diversity and internationalization, tied for No. 32.
  • Research, No. 33.

Jack Moran, a spokesman for QS Quacquarelli Symonds, says that although the rankings "continue to command record levels of interest, we know that the American higher education sector is wrestling with questions that do not fall within the scope of our … rankings — questions of equity, access, representation, and social justice."

"The QS USA University Rankings have been carefully crafted to shine some independent light on which institutions are doing most to foster the essential relationship between education and social change," Moran adds.

More students soon will be able to take advantage of the top-rated education offered by Rice. In March, the private university announced it would expand the number of undergraduates by 20 percent by the fall of 2025. This would raise undergraduate enrollment to 4,800 and total enrollment to about 9,000.

"Rice's extraordinary applicant pool has grown dramatically despite the challenges posed by the pandemic," President David Leebron says in a news release.

Rice says the number of student applications has climbed 75 percent over the past four years. In 2020, the university received roughly 28 applications for every available slot. For the fall of 2021, almost 30,000 applicants flooded Rice, up 26 percent from the previous year.

Leebron says Rice's previous expansion of enrollment "greatly increased our national and international student applications, enrollment, and visibility. We also dramatically increased diversity on our campus, and we were able to extend the benefits of a Rice education to many more students."

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Building Houston

 
 

Business and government leaders in the Houston area hope the region can become a hub for CCS activity. Photo via Getty Images

Three big businesses — Air Liquide, BASF, and Shell — have added their firepower to the effort to promote large-scale carbon capture and storage for the Houston area’s industrial ecosystem.

These companies join 11 others that in 2021 threw their support behind the initiative. Participants are evaluating how to use safe carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology at Houston-area facilities that provide energy, power generation, and advanced manufacturing for plastics, motor fuels, and packaging.

Other companies backing the CCS project are Calpine, Chevron, Dow, ExxonMobil, INEOS, Linde, LyondellBasell, Marathon Petroleum, NRG Energy, Phillips 66, and Valero.

Business and government leaders in the Houston area hope the region can become a hub for CCS activity.

“Large-scale carbon capture and storage in the Houston region will be a cornerstone for the world’s energy transition, and these companies’ efforts are crucial toward advancing CCS development to achieve broad scale commercial impact,” Charles McConnell, director of University of Houston’s Center for Carbon Management in Energy, says in a news release.

McConnell and others say CCS could help Houston and the rest of the U.S. net-zero goals while generating new jobs and protecting current jobs.

CCS involves capturing carbon dioxide from industrial activities that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere and then injecting it into deep underground geologic formations for secure and permanent storage. Carbon dioxide from industrial users in the Houston area could be stored in nearby onshore and offshore storage sites.

An analysis of U.S Department of Energy estimates shows the storage capacity along the Gulf Coast is large enough to store about 500 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to more than 130 years’ worth of industrial and power generation emissions in the United States, based on 2018 data.

“Carbon capture and storage is not a single technology, but rather a series of technologies and scientific breakthroughs that work in concert to achieve a profound outcome, one that will play a significant role in the future of energy and our planet,” says Gretchen Watkins, U.S. president of Shell. “In that spirit, it’s fitting this consortium combines CCS blueprints and ambitions to crystalize Houston’s reputation as the energy capital of the world while contributing to local and U.S. plans to help achieve net-zero emissions.”

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