Rankings and accreditations: what they mean and what you need to know | Top Universities

Rankings and accreditations: what they mean and what you need to know

By Stephanie Lukins

Updated Updated

Sponsored by University of Lima

When choosing between universities and degree programmes, there’s usually a big checklist to consult first: the cost, courses offered, graduate employment prospects, career development opportunities, financial aid, and so much more.

But what about rankings and accreditations?

It can be quite confusing and feel like a minefield. What do rankings and accreditations really mean? Why are they important?

Rankings and accreditations can be a useful starting point to offer value as a reference and as a basis for comparison between several choices. 

It’s also important to have a good idea of what it is that you want to get from the information they provide. Do you care more about a traditional research-based university or a modern practical-based university? Are you more interested in the programme’s graduate employability prospects or its teaching quality?

Being able to identify what’s important to you in a university and a degree will help make navigating rankings and what types of accreditations to look out for that little bit easier.

Let’s take a closer look at the need-to-knows of both…


Rankings are a useful tool to differentiate and compare universities, degree programmes, and even student cities and graduate employability rates. Each ranking leverages bespoke comparative data based on a variety of measures and factors, such as teaching quality, research quality, the ratio of staff to students, student satisfaction, and more.

In recent years, there have been many universities from all over the world climbing rankings tables and even fending off some of the most prestigious institutions across Asia, Europe and Latin America.

The University of Lima in Peru is one such university which is doing just that. In 2019, the University of Lima made its ranking debut in as a top 75 university in Latin America in the QS World University Rankings 2020, as well as the QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2020.

What’s more, in 2018, the University of Lima was awarded three stars in the QS Stars Rating System.

“We wanted to know what the University of Lima is globally, and here we have some indicators that are beginning to produce that effect of satisfaction of knowing oneself through the eyes of the one who knows, the one who is trained. For us, this map is fundamental, because it is already an X-ray―a very schematic one, of course―of what we are,” said the University of Lima’s President, Óscar Quezada Macchiavello.

But remember – rankings are simply an indicator as to which university and degree programme meets your requirements. It is highly recommended that you visit the university if possible so you can really get a feel for the place, meet the teaching staff and talk to current students and alumni who are studying, or have studied, the degree programme/s that you’re interested in. 


Accreditation is a big, fancy word that essentially means ‘quality check’.

Depending on the institution or degree, they may undergo rigorous checks to ensure they meets certain standards by a national education government-run body or independent accreditation agency.

If an institution or degree programme is labelled accredited, it can be considered as an official stamp of approval which means it meets and adheres to the highest quality standard.

You’re most likely to see the word ‘accredited’ associated with specific areas of study if it count towards a professional qualification or registration with a professional body – for example, actuarial science, accounting, medicine, and engineering.

The University of Lima is one such university which has had several undergraduate programmes granted accredited status over the last three years.

These include its Psychology programme which was granted interactional accreditation by IAC-Cinda in 2018, as well as its Economics programme which was recognised in 2019 as a member of the Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA) Institute’s finance program – making it the first undergraduate degree in Peru to obtain the highest distinction worldwide.

Also in 2019, the University of Lima became the only institution in Latin America to become a member of the Center for Integrated Facility Engineering (CIFE) at Stanford University.

What’s more, last year the university’s Industrial Engineering and Systems Engineering programmes were accredited by ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) – a prestigious organisation which accredits higher education programs in applied sciences, computer science, engineering and technology worldwide.

Lead image credit: University of Lima

This article was originally published in . It was last updated in

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