Why do University Rankings Matter to Students?

Multiple factors influence student decisions when it comes to exploring potential avenues and weighing up their options in regards to higher education.

It’s no secret that university rankings have a succinct role in this particular decision-making process. How and why are rankings used and consistently regarded as a reliable indicator for students when deciding on an institution?

Rankings as an early-stage shortlisting tool

Rankings are commonly used to create a shortlist of ideal study destinations, acting as the initial stepping stone for furthered research into universities. In other words, if a student has already decided on their preferred country to study in, rankings represent an ideal ”narrowing down” tool. The de-clustering of search results and simple categorization simplify the process for prospects.

Rankings as a quick reputation checker

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Many students consult rankings to gauge an institutions reputation and global standing.

They can also highlight institutions that prospects would’ve been previously unaware of, and may even match up with the academic or institutional expectations they had of their desired institution.

Leading on from this, rankings provide a simple, numerical way to compare universities and make informed decisions about how highly regarded they are.

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I was afraid when I joined a French school that it wouldn’t be internationally recognized… so it [looking at the rankings] was to reassure myself. If you have to apply for an Erasmus program and you have a list of universities you don’t know anything about, rankings could help you choose.

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Rankings as a direct comparison tool or tie-breaker

Some students will use rankings to directly compare two or more universities – although most students have suggested that this would only make a real difference in their decision if the gap in each institution’s rankings were significant.

Rankings as a key indicator of future employment prospects

As shown in our ‘How do Students use Rankings’ report and in the figure shown at the top of this piece, employability dominated as a key indicator in reference to university and business school rankings.

Students hold the potential return on investment from their degree in high regard. They can use rankings as a way of ensuring that their chosen institution will be recognized by employers in their faculty area. This is where ‘subject rankings’ become increasingly important and acknowledged by students.

If you would like to receive an in-depth review of how important rankings are to students, download our ”How do Students use Rankings?” Industry Report.

See our Report Here

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