Karen Lomas
September 26, 2021

University Rankings – Latest Results

Two rankings platforms, both the Times Educational Rankings and QS sites, have published the latest results in world university rankings.

This is timely news for school-age students looking to apply for courses to commence in September 2022, in the northern hemisphere.For year 11s in Australia, soon to be commencing their year 12 studies, they will be looking to this information in the decision-making process over the next few months and into next year.

So with respect to world university rankings, today I read about university rankings based on Graduate Employability. This report has “Sydney University outrank(ing) Oxford University, Cambridge University and Harvard” University. This is great for Sydney University, but as with everything, the devil is in the detail.

Indeed, in the same source article, Economics Correspondent, Ronald Mizen, then goes on to add that; “Melbourne (University) has a better reputation among employers, according to a (separate) survey…” Then, we read that it is the University of New South Wales; “that produces more business leaders, philanthropists, creatives, high-wealth individuals and entrepreneurs”.

Oddly, Australian National University ranks comparatively low in this ranking report. So what do you do if you’re trying to decide between ANU, UNSW, or others? If you’re not confused already, I’d be surprised.

University rankings are important as they offer data on a variety of aspects of the universities of interest to students. For example, you can research which higher education institute ranks highly regarding:

  • A particular subject area, such as Design, Medicine, Economics, etc
  • Quality of Teaching, Student Satisfaction
  • Graduate Outcomes, Graduate Employability
  • Research – Masters level research and PhD research projects

These are wide ranging aspects of excellence.I’ll briefly explore two of these here. Student satisfaction and Research.

University Ranking by Student Satisfaction

Student satisfaction is really key to outcomes, as if they feel unsupported they may leave the course early without graduating the course. Therefore, if there are issues around  student administration, for example, that interfere with: ease of enroling; ease of choosing Majors; booking into tutorials; navigating the student portal, or finding a course counsellor, for example, you might end up deferring your course, or worse still dropping out before the end of your first academic year is over. This “dropping out” of courses is what is known as the attrition rate. This presently stands at a worrying median rate of 31% in Australia.

If you are interested in national comparisons, here’s a publication that looks at non-continuation rates and completion rates for UK universities.

University Ranking by Research

Of course quality of research is an important consideration, in terms of university rankings. This is particularly the case for a student who is keen to gain entry directly into a “vertical double degree,” or graduate program straight out of school. I explain these course types and distinctions in a previous blog post.

So please don’t simply read a newspaper headline and then think you have it all covered. You, or your young adult child (if you’re a parent reading this) need to consider a lot of different aspects of what a higher education institution offers. Importantly, due to data collected for these studies, there is a lot less information gathered with respect to:

  • specialist training institutions – performing arts colleges, media studies colleges, hospitality schools etc
  • smaller further education and training providers
  • and newly formed universities and colleges – in Australia we have Torrens Institute and Federation University, for example

Personal Preferences and Anecdotes about Universities

I caution students and parents to be careful when not only reading data headlines, but also when hearing anecdotes from people who hold onto long-held beliefs and preferences of their own. Indeed, when I came to live in Australia, 25 years ago, I was alerted to the fact that, especially in Melbourne, schools and universities are what are discussed very early on meeting new acquaintances. This was referenced in an expat guide book. Conversely, in Sydney, you might first be asked how much you earn!

I heard such things as a certain well known university in Melbourne being THE ONLY one to bother applying to.How can this possibly be so? A university is like any other business. If their graduates were unemployable by the end of their courses, they would be out of business!

More recently I’ve heard disturbing comparisons made between universities based on certain social prejudices. Gossip sticks, so please be mindful that things do change all the time. Again, universities are competing for student applicants and so they are regularly making changes to their courses, faculty staff, range of offerings, etc.Plus you, or your child is an individual and the most important consideration in choosing a higher education institution is what suits you/your child best.

Here are my go-to resources for looking into comparisons of universities.

Take your time when researching higher education courses. The latest results for university rankings are handy resources. However, also please listen to experts in the field of career development and rely upon quality career coaching support services, such as can be found with Karen Your Career Coach and Associates.




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