There are many different factors feeding into students’ university experience but one undeniable, universal and significant factor is the location of the university itself. More specifically, it is the city that the university is located in or next to. This is especially true for city-based universities that are not able to create the campus ‘bubble’.
Through our research with current and prospective students across the globe, they tell us time and time again that the location of their future institution is really important to them. It brings with it the environment, personal and professional opportunities, local culture and much more. In fact, for many, cultural interest and lifestyle associated with the location of the university is the number one reason they select that university.
As can be seen from the chart below, intentional students from all over the world mentioned location (highlighted in green) in their top five priorities when selecting an institution for a master’s degree:
New research carried out by QS with students worldwide explains the growing importance of international study. Although students in different regions have different motivations for studying abroad, they all agree on one aspect – developing global communication skills is key.
It’s perhaps unsurprising that students from developing parts of the world are keen to learn from abroad, graduate from a reputable university and get work experience overseas. However, this is no longer just the pursuit of those from Asia, Latin America and Africa. Students in Europe and the US are equally interested in broadening horizons, becoming part of diverse communities and learning from other cultures. This could be a direct impact of globalisation, given the way businesses are becoming more connected and international, in turn increasing the demand for globally-minded graduates.
Our research, based on ~60 focus groups and over 1,800 survey responses, finds students commonly cite the following three factors when comparing universities abroad:
Dr. David Reggio has returned to the QS Intelligence Unit, as the new Global Head of Consulting. With a real focus on innovation and relevance to the market, he explains how this service can help your institution:
D.R.: In a nutshell, QS Consulting offers concrete solutions and insight for HE institutions and related organisations. Each project has a range of stakeholders and we go beyond providing intelligence reports: we conduct a tailored and thorough diagnosis. Higher education institutions seeking to enhance their strategy and/or improve implementation can benefit from our personalised, bespoke services.
- Who are the consultants?
D.R.:. There are three leads in the team, including myself. Dr. Shadi Hijazi is the man for marketing and change management, while Jacques de Champchesnel has worked in HE institutions on recruitment strategy and campus development. Between us, we have effected change and gained experience in Latin America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. We also have a network of specialists and experts, so, for example, if there is an assignment for which an area of nano-medicine or irradiation is a strategic driver, then we have necessary recourse to the professional in that field for their participation and input. What’s more, consulting is housed in the QS Intelligence Unit, so we have access to tremendous insight, skills-sets, and, of course, data. We are defined by strong dexterity and fluency not just with higher education per se, but with the horizon of science, technology and society. Read more
Which nation has the world’s best universities? The question is of growing interest, and we have answered it with a novel analysis published in late May.
The Higher Education System Strength (HESS) rank is designed to show how good each nation’s university system is by world standards, and how appropriate it is to its host nation’s needs.
HESS is drawn up on the basis of four equally-weighted measures. Of these the first, which we call “System,” is a direct count of how many universities each nation has in the top 700 positions in the current QS World University Rankings, weighted by their average position so that a top-ten university counts for more than one just above 700th place.
QS is on a permanent mission to ensure informed choices are made about higher education. This month, it took this commitment to a new level by holding the first Edu Data Summit, intended to look at all the ways in which big data is informing universities and improving the student experience.
Held in London on June 8-10, the Summit brought in almost 200 people from across the globe to talk about how the big data is impacting upon education. They included a host of fascinating speakers, led by initial keynote speaker Rafael Reif, President of MIT, who opened the event by video link.
Far from being a gleam on some futurologist’s horizon scan, the data wave has already hit academic life. Part of the reason is the growth in student use of connected devices. When people wrote essays on paper, it was hard to tell how they did it. Now a wealth of data is available on how they work, how long it takes them to do things, and where they work and spend time. Allied to the non-stop collection of data on topics such as seminar absence, this has allowed universities to create new tools that predict student failure, and allow potentially failing students to get timely help.
Improved data collection has enabled QS to expand its unique ranking of universities in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) from 150 to 200 institutions. But there is still remarkable stability at the top.
A total of 24 countries are represented in the 2016 edition of the ranking. Once again, Russia has by far the largest representation, its universities taking almost a third of the places. Among the 63 Russian universities in the ranking, five reached the top 20 and 11 the top 50.
For the first time, the top three EECA universities are all Russian. Lomonosov Moscow State University retains the lead it has held in all three editions of the ranking, with Novosibirsk State University still in second place. Saint-Petersburg State University, which has moved up four places in two years, has overtaken the Charles University, in Prague, to complete the clean sweep.
Saudi Arabia continues to dominate the QS ranking of universities in the Arab Region, with 19 of the top 100 universities in the latest edition, including three of the top four.
Sustained investment in higher education has helped Saudi universities to repeat the successes seen in the first official ranking, published in 2015. But the full list remains surprisingly diverse, with 15 of the 21 members of the Arab League represented in the region’s top 100.
Although this is the same number as last year, there has been some movement even in the countries represented, with two Algerian universities appearing for the first time. The University of Tlemcen has come straight into the ranking in the 71-80 band, while the Université des Sciences et de la Technologie Houari-Boumediene features between 91 and 100.
This year’s QS analysis of Asia’s top universities looks similar to the 2015 edition, especially in the topmost positions. But there are a number of key changes to the indicators we use and the weights we assign to them.
One major change is to increase the weight given to our survey of employer opinion from last year’s 10 per cent to 20 per cent now. Because our academic survey is still weighted at 30 per cent, this means that the two surveys account between them for half of each university’s possible score. This increased emphasis on employer opinion is consistent with growing interest in graduate employability around the world, including in Asia.
In addition, we have introduced a new measure into the Asian rankings this year, one that is already used in our other regional rankings around the world. This is the percentage of academic staff with a PhD, weighted at 5 per cent in this year’s ranking.
The Latin American ranking is perhaps the most eagerly awaited of the four regional comparisons published by QS. Over six editions, competition has become intense and media interest in the results exceptionally strong.
One reason is the diversity of the ranking: seven countries are represented in the latest top 20, a record number that confirms the continuing growth in high-quality provision throughout the region. The top three universities are unchanged since 2015 and there are no new entrants to the top 10. But, with universities from 20 countries among the top 300 in the region, there is more interest than ever in the ranking as a whole.
Universidade de São Paulo (USP) maintains its accustomed position at the head of the ranking, outperforming its city neighbour Unicamp (Universidade Estadual De Campinas) and Santiago’s Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) has become the nearest challenger to the top three, moving up two places since last year.
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- Higher Education World June 2016: Evaluating the World’s Best Higher Education Systems