University Ranking- Does it really matter!

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In one of my previous blog post I had mentioned  several criteria students consider while opting for higher education

In that priority list we found that students consider the university ranking among one of the top five criteria while selecting the university. Even while reading many blog posts and inquiries you can find students who opt for programs which they are not completely interested but they had decided to go with it because the university providing it was a renowned and higher ranked university than the university which was providing a course in which the student had interest.

Heck many students go for masters just to broaden their career, for a better employment opportunity and settle and work abroad rather than pursue their interest and thus they end up first selecting the universities based on their profile and then deciding which subject to pursue in that university. In a nutshell the ranking of university has been quite influential in a student’s 
perspective to decide their dream education destination.

But is the ranking the only factor to consider and does it really matter? The answer varies among critics but in my opinion “Yes, but it matters to only some extent”.

To elaborate my answer, ranking is important but it should not be the only basis to decide the university. I think the most important factor while selecting a university of your choice is the ROI (return on investment). I don’t know how many students actually know or have heard this term but it is actually pretty simple concept. It is like the efficiency formula.

     Consider return on Investment Generally as how much you are able to make profit and earn in as much short duration as possible divided by how much you are investing in your education.

But in my view let me put it this way-
For example a guy went to MIT for electrical engineering masters. He spent around 60 Laks (125000 USD) to complete his masters. Then he was recruited by Intel and his annual package was 110000USD. Thus in a span of two years he would have not only recovered the money he spent in his masters but also would have got enough money and salary to live a luxurious life.

According to me students should targets universities where the course has good return on investment. Even though it is not guaranteed for all the students that they will definitely enter job market but a university’s course having better return on investment, generally is the right choice.

Here one important thing you should check that not all the top ranked universities has good return on investment. Some universities which are not even in the top rank sometimes have better return on investment than universities which are ranked well than them owing to other factors those universities carry.

Some examples of universities which are ranked very high but have lower return on investment comparatively are:-
*HKUST (Engineering) – Hong Kong
*University College Dublin (Humanity/Arts)- Ireland
*King’s College London (Arts/Engineering) – United Kingdom

Some examples of Universities which are not ranked higher but has good return on investment:-

*University of Paderborn (CSC) -Germany
* Rochester Institute of Technology (Engineering/Business) – USA
*University of Ottawa -Canada

Apart from return on investment, students should check the industry relationship of a university’s program. This is one such factor which boosts university’s reputation and also even if it is not ranked higher, students from such universities end up with a job while graduating. University courses which have internships and co-operative education should be preferred by students and they should generally ignore ranking during that time.

Some of the universities which are not ranked higher but have good industrial and practical programs are:-
*Esslingen University of Applied Science (Mechanical Engineering) - Germany
*Rochester Institute of Technology – Has good tie-ups with top engineering companies -USA
*University of Western Sydney - Australia

One more important factor is employers perspective and their view and preference on university visits. i.e. universities which top employers reputation list. There are certain universities which are not ranked very high but employers tend to go there more and recruit students in bulk. I remember reading a article in which employers mentioned that they prefer going to Boston College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute than top tier Universities like University of Florida and Miami. Event though the former two colleges are comparatively lower ranked than the later, the graduates from these colleges earn high salary and most students find jobs within 4 months of graduation. 

Next factor is student to faculty ratio (SFR) of the university. There are many universities in Europe which are ranked very high but due to low SFR, the students get neglected and thus end up suffering with backlogs and being unemployed. Students must check the faculty ratio and decide since the more the SFR the more importance and care the student receives.

Research facilities and the amount of investment on research is an important factor to consider to be considered by PHD students. Some universities even though ranked higher get lower funding than universities which are not ranked on top. Also, whether a scholarship possibility is present should always be considered and also any relief funding whether will be provided should be considered by students.

To sum up university ranking is to be considered only when you want to move onto higher studies and not enter job market directly. While going for masters/PHD directly from bachelors/masters university ranking matters but also your grades. But in job market it doesn’t prove prominent.  Employers don’t care whether you graduated from imperial college London or from any unknown XYZ university but they care about your experience, your knowledge and skill set and what grades and GPA you maintained in your studies to some extent.


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