Influence of rankings on student choice

by Ben Sowter


We received a comment to my post a few days ago regarding the general reality that the validity of rankings are assessed by most against the alignment of the results with the observers expectations. The comment expressed that rankings were “for academics” and that prospective students don’t pay a great deal of attention. IDP conduct annual research into the motivations of prospective international students. The detailed results of their research can be found on the following links:



The 2009 work polled over 6000 prospective, current and recently graduated international students and found international ranking to be the most significant factor influencing choice of institution, with reputation in field, reputation of institution and employer recognition all featuring highly. The slide below is an excerpt from the 2009 presentation made at the AIEC Conference.

Source: IDP Research

The 2010 data places rankings as the second factor amongst prospective students after overall reputation of the institution. Although based on a smaller sample this serves to further confirm the important role rankings are beginning to take in the decision making process for prospective international students.

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