Global University Rankings Herald the Dawn of a New Elite
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Global University Rankings Herald the Dawn of a New Elite

Global University Rankings Herald the Dawn of a New Elite

For many students, one of the key factors in choosing where to study is what their job prospects will be when they graduate, so a table that ranks universities based on employability is bound to be of interest.

But this new global ranking tells us much more than how individual universities are faring in getting their graduates into the workplace.

The rankings, published in the International New York Times, are based on interviews with 2,500 employers around the world, who were asked to rate universities on a range of criteria, including whether graduates were ready for work, the quality of teaching, expertise in particular areas, facilities, reputation and links with business.

The top 20 universities ranked by the employability of their graduates are:

  1. Cambridge (U.K.)
  2. Harvard (U.S.)
  3. Yale (U.S.)
  4. Oxford (U.K.)
  5. California Institute of Technology (U.S.)
  6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (U.S.)
  7. Stanford (U.S.)
  8. T.U. Munchen (Germany)
  9. Princeton (U.S.)
  10. Tokyo (Japan)
  11. Columbia (U.S.)
  12. University of California, Berkeley (U.S.)
  13. Toronto (Canada)
  14. University College London (U.K.)
  15. Imperial College London (U.K.)
  16. Hong Kong University of Sciences and Technology (Hong Kong)
  17. École Normale Supérieure Paris (France)
  18. Edinburgh (U.K.)
  19. Johns Hopkins (U.S.)
  20. Peking (China)

What is immediately obvious, as with many other international university rankings, is the dominance of Anglo-Saxon institutions. The U.S. and U.K. have 14 in the top 20, with Canada’s single entry making 15 English-speaking universities.

As I have remarked before, this illustrates both the dominance of English as the global language and a potential bias towards the English-speaking world.

But the rankings also reveal a number of other interesting trends.

One is that education is becoming an increasingly global currency, something I noted in an article earlier this year. More school leaders report that students are applying to study abroad, with the number of Americans studying abroad reaching an all-time high, reflecting an awareness of the likelihood that they will be both competing for jobs and working in an international environment.

There are also signs that the Anglo-Saxon dominance is under threat. In 2010, when the rankings were first published, Asian universities made up just 10% of the top 150. This year, they constitute 20%.

This is both a natural consequence of education becoming a global market and a reflection of the rapidity with which Asian economies are catching up with the West.

There are also signs of the creation of a gap between the world’s leading universities, which have an increasingly global outlook, and those which have a more domestic focus.

According to Laurent Dupasquier, managing partner of Emerging, one of the consultancies that produced the rankings, while the leading Anglo-Saxon universities continue to dominate, other U.S.-U.K. institutions slipped down the rankings, by an average of five places.

“Like the premier league, the champions have an international community of students and think internationally, unlike their more locally oriented counterparts,” he said.

It is perhaps inevitable that as education becomes an increasingly global market, only a small number of universities will have the prestige and the reach to succeed.

As a result, we may be seeing the creation of an elite club of universities that can compete on an international stage, and the others who will have to make do with domestic  honours.

This article was written by Nick Morrison and originally published on Forbes.