Before we go in-depth to the discussion, it is important to know what the different University ranking measures. Each ranking organisation measures institutions in different ways, using different criteria, and different weightings of similar criteria.
1. QS World Ranking of Universities: this ranking organisation uses a consistent methodological framework, compiled using six simple metrics that it deems effectively capture university performance.
• Academic reputation (40%) – a global survey of more than 70,000 academics
• Citations per faculty (20%) – calculated by the total number of citations received by all papers produced by an institution across a five-year period by the number of faculty members at that institution.
• Student-to-faculty ratio (20%) – the number of academic staff employed relative to the number of students enrolled
• Employer reputation (10%) – measured by a global survey of more than 37,000 graduate employers
• International faculty ratio (5%) – demonstrates an ability to attract faculty and students from across the world, and implies a high global outlook
• International student ratio (5%) – see International faculty ratio
2. Times Higher Education World University Rankings: this ranking measures Universities based on teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook using 13 carefully calibrated performance indicators.
The performance indicators are grouped into five areas:
Photo courtesy of THE
3. Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) (previously known as the Shanghai Jiao Tong index): this ranking uses six indicators to rank world universities, including the:
• number of alumni winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals (10%)
• number of staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals (20%)
• number of highly cited researchers in 21 broad subject categories (20%)
• number of articles published in Nature and Science (20%)
• number of articles indexed in Science Citation Index – Expanded and Social Sciences Citation Index (20%)
• per capita academic performance of an institution (10%)
How then do University rankings assist a graduate?
It gives you a headstart with Employees and Businesses at the beginning of your job search…
Increasingly, employers (especially multinational organisations) use rankings as a screening tool to qualify fresh job seekers for an interview. According to Channel NewsAsia, Commentary: The age-old question about university rankings, “For hirers screening thousands of resumes from candidates from unfamiliar countries, a knee-jerk coping response is to correlate the quality of the candidate to the pedigree of the university inferred through a recognised university ranking publication.”
There is this perception that coming from a highly-ranked university indicates that this person has potential and is poised for success because they beat many others to get into a top-notch school in their youth.
… but does not guarantee you a job.
Taking note of that, once you secured yourself an interview, getting a job offer from a company is purely dependent on how you fared during the interview and the aptitude test (in some cases). For those not in highly-recognised University, the challenge is how to score yourself interviews of your dream career. After which, your sheer force of personality and drive may be enough to convince employers that you are a catch, without needing a degree from a highly-ranked university to prove their worth.
With this in mind, should a student put emphasis on rankings?
Rankings is not everything, especially the overall rankings of Universities. If you already have a good idea of the subject you wish to study, then subject rankings might be a good starting point, but should not be the only means of determining the University to study.
A recommended way to know more about the University is to take the time to do a campus tour or attend one of their Open Days. This initiative will allow you to meet academics, current students and alumni. It will also give you the opportunity to see the types of facilities, academic support and to speak to a representative in regards to questions you may have about career prospects, industry links and learning structures. In short, this will allow you to decide if the University is right for you.
Major global rankings are less likely to highlight these important features; thus, it is important to not place a huge emphasis on rankings alone.
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