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Super Admin      Feb 02, 2024

World Rankings! How To Trust Them?

Since you have landed on this page, you surely are confused about what college/university to choose from. Validating your bafflement, selecting a college that best meets your requirements is an arduous job. The number of education providers is ever increasing with all of them competing internally with each other for prestige and desirability. Here comes the aim of world university/college rankings.

There is an annual publication for the best universities in the world by the renowned university rankings. The institute’s reputation is substantially impacted by these world university rankings, a lot is at stake when we talk about them. 

Students are often required to have a comparative analysis and an open perspective when choosing their higher education institute. To have an overview of it all in one place they turn to the international ranking systems. The main ground for the assessment of these educational institutes by the world rankings is to evaluate complex information and put it together in accordance with the popularity and performance based on surveys, diversity, and much more.

However, there has always been a buzz that revolves around the authenticity and the reliability of the university/college rankings. Stuck between the subjective and objective approach, there are only so many alternatives to place your bet on. And this leads us back to the pavilion, how to trust the rankings?

Comparison of Global University Rankings

The important points that are taken into consideration when ranking a university or a college are as follows:

  • Job placements after completion of degree/course
  • The potential to get admitted to further top colleges/institutes
  • The comprehensive expense of attending the school
  • The magnitude of school and students
  • Ins and outs of the college

Below are the four major College/University Ranking Systems that work on a global level, and are the ones that students often turn to.

Academic Ranking of World Universities (Shanghai Ranking; AWRU)

  • This annually published world ranking is issued by: Shanghai Ranking Consultancy (before 2009: Center for World-Class Universities Graduate School of Education, Shanghai Jiao Tong University)
  • Having an institutional level of comparison of around 1,800 institutes, the level of comparison is based on: field & subject rankings available
  • This ranking system mainly focuses on Research Performance and has the following Ranking Parameters
    • Quality of education.
      • Number of Nobel Prizes & Field Medals for alumni.
    • Quality of faculty.
      • Number of Nobel Prizes & Field Medals for faculty.
      • Number of highly cited researchers. 
    • Research output.
      • Number of publications in journals of Nature & Science.
      • Number of entries in Citation Indexes.
    • Per capita performance of the university.
  • They take pride in their strength of being highly regarded internationally.

Times Higher Education (THE) World University Ranking

  • This annually published world ranking is issued by: The London-based newspaper Times Higher Education in cooperation with Elsevier.
  • Having an institutional level of comparison of around 1,400 institutes, the level of comparison is based on: subject & teaching-focused rankings available.
  • This ranking system mainly focuses on Teaching, Research, and Knowledge Transfer and has the following Ranking Parameters
    • Teaching.
      • Based on a reputation survey.
      • Staff-student ratio.
      • Doctorate-bachelor’s ratio.
      • Awarded doctorates-academic staff ratio.
      • Institutional income.
    • Research.
      • Reputation survey.
      • Research income.
      • Research productivity.
    • Citations.
    • International outlook.
      • The proportion of international students.
      • The proportion of international staff.
      • International collaboration.
    • Industry income.
  • They take pride in their strength of including survey-based indicators.

QS World University Ranking

  • This annually published world ranking is issued by: London-based Quacquarelli Symonds (QS).
  • Has an institutional level of comparison of around 1,002 institutes, and is based on: the subject & other rankings available.
  • This ranking system mainly focuses on university reputation and academic performance and has the following Ranking Parameters
    • Academic reputation.
      • Based on an Academic survey.
    • Employer reputation.
      • Based on the QS employer survey.
    • Faculty/Student ratio.
    • Citations per faculty.
    • International faculty & international student ratios.
  • They take pride in their strength as they are approved by the International Ranking Expert Group (IREG).

Ranking Web (Webometrics Ranking of World Universities)

  • This semi-annually published world ranking is issued by: Cybermetrics Lab @ Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientí­ficas.
  • Having an institutional level of comparison of around 31,000 institutes.
  • This ranking system mainly focuses on Web Performance and has the following Ranking Parameters
    • Presence.
      • Public knowledge shared (Number of pages of the institution’s web domain).
    • Visibility.
      • Number of external networks linking to the institutions’ web.
    • Transparency/Openness.
      • Number of citations from Top 110 authors.
    • Excellence/Scholar.
      • Number of papers amongst top 10% cited in certain disciplines.
  • They take pride in their strength as they include a large number of ranked universities.

Some shortcomings in the system

Despite the fact that these rankings take into extreme consideration all the parameters, there are always some loose ends on everything. World University Rankings are no exception to this. To quote the fundamentals, they fail to capture the peculiar elements, such as campus diversity, emotional support provided to the students, extracurricular activities, the areas of growth irrespective of the subject areas, and much more.

Another important factor that most students fail to consider is the difference between getting a degree with prestige and acquiring the education that they actually like. An institute may get the fame for overall performance, however, may not meet the specific needs that you have for your professional growth. That’s why it is immensely important to choose your college wisely.

Even if you do not get admitted to any of the highly ranked institutes, your education still matters and it will pay off. Although institutes have a good stand when looking for career prospects, the thing that matters the most is the knowledge.

What now?

Now that you have read about the criterion of the university rankings and their limitations, the question comes back again. How to know what to trust? NO ONE! The answer to this might feel blunt, but it is what it is. Don’t trust anything but your guts, and in order for your guts to make proper decisions, do your own homework and your own research. 

You know yourself the best and you know your requirements. Consider all the factors, look for ranked institutes while keeping in mind all the other elements like academic reputation, graduation rates, research citations and papers published, the internationality of faculty and students, employer reputation, student to faculty ratio, industry income, award winners, and funding offered to students. 

While not missing out on out of the box things that you will learn, the diverse environment that you will study in, the campus food that you might have to eat, how loving the city or town your university is in student support system, and the ways through which you will be able to connect with people with shared interests.

Try to get to the bottom of these critical questions and factor them into your decision.

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