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Commentary: The age-previous query about university rankings


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SINGAPORE: Recent news reviews about Asia-Pacific university rankings have gotten individuals riled up.

While several Singaporeans use the rankings to pit the National University of Singapore (NUS) in opposition to Nanyang Technological University (NTU), other people lament the unlimited stream of university rankings.

“Wasn’t there 1 launched just a few weeks back? Is this 1 or that 1 far more credible?” requested some audience.

Indeed, it can be complicated what we should really fork out consideration to, when the rank placements of outlined universities change commonly based on what variables every rating exercising weighs as far more significant, irrespective of whether these are the volume of investigate, the teaching benchmarks or the employability of graduates.

But the truth that we nevertheless maintain a search-out for these rankings propose that they do make any difference.


University rankings make any difference for these in the specialist companies and specialized professions that need mastery around their domains and the individuals they provide.

Portion of this is mostly psychological, for a extremely-ranked college is a proxy for specialist excellence, and individuals normally choose to collaborate with the greatest to guarantee by themselves of the best likelihood for accomplishment.

When you board a driverless motor vehicle, does the truth that the motor vehicle was made by teams of engineers schooled at the best-ranked university not give you a bigger assurance of safety? And when you require a attorney, is not it that a lot far more encouraging when you hear that your attorney will come from the prime university in the land?

A physician anaesthetises a patient prior to the start out of medical procedures. (Picture: REUTERS/Suhaib)

We also fail to remember that education is an sector in itself. The bigger a university’s rating, the far more students and funding the college draws in, and the far more the school gets most likely compensated.

If the college doesn’t do properly in 1 criterion, it has each and every incentive to strengthen its rating on other indicators.

Governments are also heavily investing in investigate to increase their universities’ rankings. The Chinese authorities for instance, declared a year back that it wished to see 6 of its universities crack the elite Top 15 universities by 2030 and has channelled billions into investigate at many Chinese universities.

Admittedly, it is in close proximity to difficult to rank all universities throughout the Asia-Pacific location fairly.

Most massive, publicly funded universities are essential to offer a extensive assortment of levels to equip a region or region’s future workforce, whereas lesser unbiased universities are likely to specialise in specific programmes, which can give them a niche benefit.

A generic rating for a university also tells us absolutely nothing about the strengths of a university in a specific class. In that regard, rankings of universities in specific programmes could be far more practical.

THEY Matter TO Staff members AND Corporations

So who do these rankings make any difference to? For 1, rankings assistance prime businesses plan and prioritise their graduate employing functions and high-priced campus recruitment programmes. 

Notably, these businesses will only conduct university milk-rounds for prime-ranked educational institutions. Harvard Business Evaluation claimed that in 1 scenario, a management consulting business budgeted practically US$one million for engagement and recruitment activities in 1 university by itself.

Numerous large financial companies and law firms also carry out costly recruitment campaigns at prime-ranked universities (File photo: Reuters)

Rankings are also suitable for graduates applying for an abroad situation with a overseas business. For hirers screening countless numbers of resumes from candidates from unfamiliar countries, a knee-jerk coping response is to correlate the high quality of the prospect to the pedigree of the university inferred through a recognised university rating publication.

University rankings are generally utilised as a screening instrument for future businesses to qualify younger career seekers for an interview. It can also be less difficult to get invest in-in from superiors to employ another person from a prime-ranked university.

When businesses start out trusting artificial intelligence to screen resumes for hires, the tendency to count on this statistic of university rankings as a foundation to small-list candidates will boost. As it stands, several career descriptions by now condition a desire for “a very good honours diploma from a prime university”.

In a natural way, the utility of this small-hand diminishes around time as career candidates accumulate ample working encounter, enough to build a specialist observe report these that his or her education background will become a distant past.

Even then, it continues to be eye-catching for a business to condition that their prime management came from prestigious educational institutions as this bolsters the reputation of their leadership and in switch, their business. Just search at the once-a-year reviews of large businesses like Changi Airport Group, where the educational institutions of the Chairman and the CEO are described.

There is a subtle variation among branding and rating. There are universities, like the Singapore Management University, that do not element extremely in new tutorial college rankings but are seen positively specified their powerful college culture, perceived “great variable” and in depth alumni community. Graduates from these educational institutions can gain from a good employing bias.

Learners stroll by the Singapore Management University. (Picture: Singapore Management University)


In a natural way, a university pedigree will assistance younger graduates discover jobs at the start out. Coming from a extremely-ranked university sends the signal that this human being has likely and is poised for accomplishment because they conquer several other people to get into a prime-notch college in their youth.

Yet, for several who do not come from a extremely-ranked university, their sheer force of identity and generate could be enough to persuade businesses that they are a catch, with no needing a diploma from a extremely-ranked university to show their value.

The problem therefore is how younger career seekers can entice the consideration of a likely employer and rating an interview in the 1st position, if their resumes do not carry a prime-ranked or properly-acknowledged university identify.

But make no mistake, graduating from a extremely ranked university will do absolutely nothing to preserve another person who has gotten a career but performs terribly in that new situation. Their university history could also be held in opposition to them in these scenarios, as they hazard staying labelled as staying only “book-smart”.

So to the preferred discussion irrespective of whether university rankings make any difference – they do to hirers and the universities by themselves. And if students’ important aim is acquiring a headstart in their working life, it should really make any difference to them way too.

Pan Zaixian is Common Manager of Kerry Consulting and has far more than 10 years’ encounter in govt research.

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