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2016 in Review: What Just Happened?!

2016 in Review: What Just Happened?! main image

It’s been something of a turbulent year all round, and the world of international higher education is no exception. From Brexit and the US elections, to a brand new graduate employability ranking, the Reimagine Education conference, and signs of tuition fees returning in Germany, there’s been a lot to take in…

To help you digest the year’s events, here’s 2016 in review from the TopUniversities.com team…

Canada: our country of the year!

Love Canada

As well as that much-reported-on moment when the Canadian immigration website crashed during the US presidential election results, Canada stands out as the #1 study destination for our readers this year. It’s been our most-viewed country guide of 2016 – ahead of other popular study destinations such as the US, Germany and UK.

Other popular Canada-related content has included a list of the top universities in Canada, a blog post from two international students explaining how to prepare to study in Canada, and this slideshow.

Honorary mention goes to Germany, which remains hugely popular amongst our international student audience (particularly on forum threads like this one) – and which has been causing waves this month with news that tuition fees will be re-introduced for international students at some German universities.

Brexit means…?

Brexit means...?

One of the biggest political events of 2016, the UK’s decision to leave the EU has resulted in much conjecture about what Brexit will mean for students, while early figures suggest a significant drop in the number of EU students applying to UK universities. The UK higher education sector remains committed to welcoming talented students from across the EU and beyond, launching the #WeAreInternational campaign to champion this cause.

We spoke to students both before and after the referendum – and many were understandably apprehensive about how fees, visas and working rights would be affected. In particular, students from both the UK and other EU countries expressed concerns about the impact on their future careers, with a majority believing their opportunities would become more limited.

On the more positive side, Nunzio Quacquarelli, CEO of QS, responded to the referendum result with four reasons for UK universities to be optimistic post-Brexit.

Employability, employability, employability


Throughout 2016, we’ve published a series of reports exploring what matters to prospective international students – with dedicated reports focusing on students in China, India, South East Asia, Latin America and the US. The overriding theme of the series has been employability – including what this means to different groups of students, and how universities can improve careers-related information and support.

The last few months of the year brought the release of several rankings linked to employability, including the first full edition of the QS Graduate Employability Rankings. Topped by the famously entrepreneurial Stanford University, the ranking assesses universities’ performance in five categories, and looks set to become one of QS’s most popular and used resources.

More generally, we’ve seen continued high demand for advice about all aspects of employability. Popular posts have included a list of the best freelance jobs for college students, tips on writing a CV with no work experience, and a look at some of the most in-demand engineering jobs of the future

In other news…


What else have we been up to in 2016? We’ve been excited to reveal the brand new TopUniversities.com homepage, as well as personalized user profiles for site members, and a new option to directly compare universities in the QS rankings. Watch this space for more exciting developments in 2017!

Alongside the annual QS Top Grad School Guide, we’ve extended our series of student guides – covering everything from finding a scholarship abroad to starting your own business at university. We also reimagined education, announced a new undergraduate scholarship, and launched a new ranking of the world’s strongest higher education systems.

What next? For the first time, we’re inviting students and graduates to help us create the next edition of the QS Best Student Cities index, which will be our first big release of 2017. Have your say: rate your past, current or future student city now.

What were your highlights (or lowlights) of 2016? What do you hope 2017 will bring? Let us know in the comments below.

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Written by Laura Bridgestock
The former editor of TopUniversities.com, Laura oversaw the site's editorial content and student forums. She also edited the QS Top Grad School Guide and contributed to market research reports, including 'How Do Students Use Rankings?'

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