What Would a Student-Created University Ranking Look Like? | Top Universities

What Would a Student-Created University Ranking Look Like?

By Laura Bridgestock

Updated June 9, 2015 Updated June 9, 2015

What would university rankings look like if created by prospective students, with access to unlimited data and resources? This is one of the questions explored in a new report, “How Do Students Use University Rankings?

The report is based on a survey and a series of focus groups involving prospective students in five European cities. Drawing on this combination of quantitative and qualitative data, the report identifies prospective students’ top priorities when choosing between universities, and what they’d ideally like university rankings to show.

The chart below reflects the university rankings indicators which are most valued by prospective students, based on survey responses to this question (participants could select up to three indicators).

What Would a Student-Created University Ranking Look Like?

So, what would prospective students prioritize if creating their own university ranking?

1. Employability

The most important category for prospective students is employability – assessed through indicators such as employment rate and university reputation among employers. Some students involved in the project also called for more specific measures, such as the proportion of students employed in roles relevant to their degree, or the employment rate for international students in the local area.

2. Teaching

The second biggest priority area is teaching, with huge demand from prospective students for ways of assessing and comparing universities’ teaching quality. Alongside current indicators such as faculty/student ratio or proportion of faculty with a PhD, some students suggested assessing number of Nobel Prizes and other awards, or how many years’ experience faculty members have.

3. Student experience

Next, there’s high demand for comparisons based on the wider student experience, reflected in indicators such as student satisfaction surveys and the diversity of the university community. The latter is viewed by many prospective students as an important way to ensure their experience is as enriching as possible, with opportunities to meet and learn from people of all backgrounds.

4. Research

While postgraduate-level students were understandably most likely to highlight the importance of comparing universities’ research output, this is also a factor considered by many applying at undergraduate level. To assess this, students point to research publication and citation rates, as well as university reputation within the academic community.

5. Cost

Finally, there is demand for university rankings to reflect the cost of study – though this is perhaps not such a high priority as may be expected, garnering only 8% of votes cast. For the majority of students, university rankings are perceived as a way of assessing university reputation and the quality of the experience on offer, while factors such as cost are considered separately.

This article was originally published in June 2015 .

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Written by

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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