Stanford University tops global employability ranking

Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) rank first and second in QS Quacquarelli Symonds’ first QS Graduate Employability Rankings, while China’s Tsinghua University takes third place. Universities with a strong STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – focus, particularly those emphasising technology, rank highly.

Tsinghua’s third-place finish is one of several strong Chinese performances: Peking University ranks joint 11th, while Fudan University is 14th.

While the top 10 demonstrates both American dominance, with United States universities taking five top-10 places, there are five different nations represented in the top 10. The others are China, Australia (the University of Sydney, 4th), France (Ecole Polytechnique, 6th), and the United Kingdom (the universities of Cambridge and Oxford, 5th and 8th respectively).

The other top-10 American institutions are Columbia University (7th), the University of California, Berkeley (9th), and Princeton University (10th).

Latin America’s highest-ranked university is Mexico’s Tecnológico de Monterrey (40th), while Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (45th) also places within the top 50.

The University of Cape Town (151-200) in South Africa is the top of only four African universities represented in this year’s ranking. The others are its compatriot, the University of the Witwatersrand (201+), and Egypt's American University in Cairo and Cairo University, both 201+.

Lebanon’s American University of Beirut (81-90) is the highest-ranked of six featured universities placing in the QS University Rankings: Arab Region. Universities from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt are also ranked.

The top 20 is comprised of institutions from the United States (8), the United Kingdom and China (three each), Australia (2), Canada, France, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Germany (one each) – with Germany and the UK taking joint 20th spot.

The QS new ranking is designed to improve the quality of analyses about the links between university practices and graduate employability. The ranking represents a development on last year’s pilot, with an enhanced methodology and an additional 100 universities ranked.

It features 300 institutions ranked according to a total score on five indicators weighted differently: employer reputation (30%), alumni outcomes (20%), employer partnerships (25%), employer-student connections (15%) and graduate employment rate (15%).

Ben Sowter, head of research at QS, said: “The 2017 instalment of this ranking illustrates that universities with a heavy STEM focus are generally among the most successful in nurturing student employability.”

This cannot simply be attributed to students at these universities being more employable due to taking STEM degrees, as graduate employability rate is only one of the five indicators that contribute to this year’s ranking, and the employability rate is not broken down by subject taken, QS says.

Sowter continued: “As the global employment market changes in unprecedented ways, students are increasingly emphasising the link between their university choice and their future career. We’re confident that the insights provided by this ranking will prove invaluable in allowing them to do so.”

Three hundred institutions were included in the rankings this year. This ranking differs from QS’s other exercises in offering universities the opportunity to opt-out while it remains in its nascent stages.

California tops THE ranking

The release of the QS employability ranking follows a week after Times Higher Education published its sixth annual Global University Employability Ranking, also revealing that employers consider graduates from American universities the most employable, but with California Institute of Technology (1st place) leading the pack, followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2nd) and Harvard University (3rd).

The Times Higher Education or THE ranking was based on research commissioned by HR consultancy Emerging and drawn from 2,500 recruitment managers from large international companies – and showed that US institutions continue to have a strong grip among global employers, taking 37 places in the 150-strong ranking. Six US universities make the top 10, including Stanford University (5th), Yale University (6th) and Princeton University (9th).

Four institutions located outside the US also make the top 10 in this year’s employability ranking: the University of Cambridge (4th), University of Oxford (7th), Technical University of Munich (8th) and the University of Tokyo (10th).

Phil Baty, Times Higher Education World University Rankings editor, said: “A university education brings a host of life-enhancing benefits but for many students, launching a successful career is one of the most important outcomes.”

“In a year of huge political upheaval, where young students have witnessed Brexit and the unexpected election of Donald Trump as US president, many will seek the relative safety of a university with a strong track record of producing graduates who are valued by large, international graduate employers.”

The survey behind the THE ranking asked those responsible for graduate recruitment for large international employers to define what they look for in graduates and which universities are most successful at producing graduates who meet their needs.

The findings were drawn from 20 countries and reveal some clear distinctions in what employers consider to be the most important employability skills. For example, employers in France, India, the US and the UK seek students with strong communication skills, while Chinese and German managers consider adaptability to be the most important.

Baty said the employer perspective, which is based on research by Emerging and Trendence, provides another valuable lens through which to explore university performance.

“For example, the THE World University Rankings revealed this year how Japanese institutions have been struggling to maintain their traditional dominance in Asia, based on a broad analysis of missions across research, teaching, international outlook and income. On the other hand, five Japanese universities made it into the Global University Employability Ranking, with both the University of Tokyo and Tokyo Institute of Technology making the top 20.

“This suggests some Japanese universities have maintained their ability to provide their graduates with strong employment prospects.”

The Global University Employability Ranking research involved creating a long list of universities via an online survey of 2,500 recruitment managers in 20 countries, and a second panel of 3,500 international managers around the world. The companies participating covered all major business sectors, had more than 5,000 employees each and recruited more than 50 graduates per year.

Countries included: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States of America.