Critical thinking

University rankings are essential, but are they perfect? Find out the answer here

There are many ways to determine whether or not a particular university is worth your time. One way is to check out its rankings, international or national. University rankings have a lot of say so far as academic decision-making is concerned; there is a solid reason why.

Not all of us can conduct an exhaustive, independent study on the various parameters of education and services incidental to it offered by many universities. There are too many universities and too many parameters for one’s abilities. So, it is not surprising that we tend to rely significantly on university rankings.

That being said, over-reliance on these rankings can also encourage inappropriate decision-making. I have known many people who treat these rankings as perfect; whatever these rankings are, they demarcate successful and unsuccessful students, universities, and even countries. If you are thinking along these lines, you should read what I have to say below. University rankings are imperfect, and I will tell you why.

  1. Resourcefulness
    It would be best if you realized that not all universities share similar budgets. Generally, those from developed countries with a long history and an extensive alumni base are able to expand significantly on their academic administration and self-promotion. Lesser-known universities, generally found in lesser developed countries, often miss out on a number of parameters not because they are inferior to the other universities but because they do not have abundant resources. These factors are often not taken into account, and all universities are weighed on the same scale irrespective.

  2. The criteria differ
    There are an array of rankings available. Each university ranking system is based on some definite criteria. As a result, there may be significant differences in the outcome. Some rankings focus more on academic reputation and research output, while others are more inclined toward international faculty and students. Since the parameters differ, a university ranked in one ranking system may not be similarly ranked in another. So, pay attention to these fundamental differences before you make your call.

  3. Your own criteria will differ.
    One glaring mistake which students make is that they only read about the overall reputation and ranking of the university. They miss assessing the university’s rankings based on specific criteria that will directly impact their own academic choices. For example, you want to do a specialization in International Law and know that University X offers one. However, you only know the overall international ranking of the university and haven’t checked its ranking in the very course of International Law. Perhaps, there are universities, albeit lower-ranked, that are highly ranked in their International Law courses. Hence, study university rankings very closely, or you will be poorly informed in making decisions.

  4. Not all parameters are covered.
    Even the world’s most reliable ranking systems cannot cover all the parameters there possibly can be to assess a university’s profile. True enough, there are even parameters that are immeasurable in quantifiable terms. Moreover, how good a university is, depends vastly on the student’s subjective experiences. So, there is a limit to how much these rankings can measure. Higher Education is not an entirely quantifiable experience; you could join a lower-ranked university, but it offers solid, well-networked student support forums for international students. The same is true otherwise as well; you may have joined a highly-ranked university, but there are factors that impact your experiences, such as remote location, cultural differences, and rigorous academic curriculum.

  5. Ranking Systems do not mean success.
    I am pretty sure that at one point in time, you must have thought that the higher a university is ranked on a list, the more certain your success is. Well, no. Even if you make it to Harvard, you are under continuous evaluation. These rankings are based on whatever information the participating universities provide, coupled with independent analysis. That being said, you, as a student, are expected to perform well throughout your academic period. Do not be tricked into thinking that university rankings decide your future. They only tell what could potentially be best for you! Consider these rankings as a major step toward your future but do not think of them as absolute in nature!

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Ayushi Kushwaha
Ayushi Kushwaha, Staff Writer for the CEOWORLD magazine. She’s spent more than a decade working for various magazines, newspapers, and digital publications and is now a Staff Writer at The CEOWORLD magazine. She writes news stories and executive profiles for the magazine’s print and online editions. Obsessed with unlocking high-impact choices to accelerate meaningful progress, she helps individuals and organizations stand out and get noticed. She can be reached on email