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KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee has moved up a notch and remains one of the nation’s Top 50 public universities in the latest college rankings.

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UT tied with Auburn University for 43rd place in the U.S. News & World Report-s rankings of public national universities after being ranked 44th for two years straight. Of the 249 national institutions ranked, 162 are public universities.

UT President John Shumaker said moving up in the rankings is the second indicator this month of UT-s progress.

“We have just enrolled at Knoxville the best freshman class in the university-s history,” Shumaker said. “The first-year students who enrolled this fall have the highest ever average high school grade point average and ACT entrance test scores.”

Criteria for the magazine-s annual rankings include student selectivity, graduation rates, class size and faculty research.

“Tennesseans have a much better flagship university than they realize because of the commitment of our faculty and staff,” Shumaker said. “With strategic investment of additional state funds in the future, we will become an even better institution.”

Other Southeastern universities ranked in the Top 50 public universities included Virginia in second place, North Carolina-Chapel Hill fifth, Georgia 18th, Florida 19th, Alabama 45th and Kentucky 50th.

The magazine-s college guide, which contains rankings of 1,400 schools, goes on sale next week.

Complete listings are available on the publication-s web site, www.usnews.com.