What rankings are most important to students?

It has long been held that global university rankings are important to students, and that, particularly in some markets, they play a significant role in student decision-making for study abroad. This is partly why rankings occupy a prominent spot in the imaginations of recruiters, and why they remain a subject of enduring interest and debate in international education circles. However, this understanding has been tempered in recent years by new insights into the factors that drive student choice.

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And from time to time we get more specific insights into how students look at international rankings. In 2015, for example, a QS study highlighted student demand for more in-depth comparisons – that is, beyond what conventional ranking schemes are able to provide. The same study also clearly demonstrated that when students look at rankings, they are often looking for indicators of employment outcomes. The underlying ranking scheme has a role to play in this in that a better-ranked institution, for some students, translates into a more compelling addition to one’s CV or allows the student to leverage a positive perception of the institution on the part of employers.

Even so, the overall impression you get from such studies is that students are drilling harder into ranking methodologies, and are looking beyond the headlines into some of the more detailed findings, particularly with respect to subject-level rankings and graduate outcomes.

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