Global Employability University Ranking and Survey 2020 Released

French consultancy, Emerging, and THE announce the release of the Employability Rankings 2020, the latest in a 10-year study by Emerging into the most employable study locations for higher education students around the world.
November 19, 2020

10 YEAR STUDY SHOWS UK AND US UNIVERSITIES HAVE BECOME LESS VALUED FOR EMPLOYABILITY

  • A ten-year study by French consultancy Emerging and published by THE, shows rapid global diversification of top universities when measured by employability
  • Outside of their elite institutions, UK and US universities have declined in terms of employability
  • Germany, mainland China, South Korea, and India are the most progressive performers for employability over the last decade
  • Canada and Australia continue to present themselves as competitors for the top positions in the ranking
  • Continental Europe enjoys numerous success stories, including France, Switzerland, Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden
  • 32 countries and regions represented in the top 150 (in comparison to only 24 in 2010)
  • US’ California Institute of Technology (1st) climbs one place to become the most employable university in the world
  • A record eight universities from the Middle East and North African region qualify for the 2020 ranking
  • View the full table on THE's website here: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/student/best-universities/best-universities-graduate-jobs-global-university-employability-ranking

 

London, 19 November 2020

French consultancy Emerging and Times Higher Education (THE), the trusted global data partner for higher education, have today announced the release of the Employability Rankings 2020, the latest in a 10-year study by Emerging into the most employable study locations for higher education students around the world. This latest ranking shows how, over the past ten years, top tier UK and US institutions have masked the general decline of American and British universities in terms of employability, as those from the likes of Europe, Australia, Canada, Asia have risen in their place. The COVID-19 pandemic has made the challenge of finding work even more difficult for graduates. Students and their parents are even more motivated by the ability to get a job rather than the brand name or reputation that universities hold. With COVID-19 impacting international student’s decision making, it is possibly the most crucial time for universities to focus on employability.

Although the podium for this year’s ranking is unsurprisingly dominated by the US’ prestigious institutions – California Institute of Technology (1st), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2nd), and Harvard University (3rd) – the impressive performances of these household name universities are hiding the general decline of US higher education overall. Most notably, the US’ ‘country score has fallen by 51% in the last ten years from 4,227 in 2010, to 2,067 in 2020. For both 2010 and 2020, each university has been given a score depending on its ranking position, and the higher the university is in the ranking, the higher the number of points it achieves. This process is used to clearly measure changes in a country or region’s performance when comparing different years. In general, US universities are struggling to compete in terms of value for money, as they lack the strong global brand recognition of their elite compatriots.

This theme has been mirrored in the UK, where a small group of elite institutions are covering the general decline of its higher education system. Despite the likes of University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, and Imperial College London improving or maintaining positions in the top 20 since 2019, the UK has fallen from 2nd (2010) to  4th (2020) place in terms of best performing countries and regions for employability. This is a result of the UK’s country score dropping by 46% in the past 10 years (1299 in 2010, to 697 in 2020), with its decline accelerating since 2016. Several factors may have affected the UK’s score, including the strong competition from other English-speaking academic systems, the rise in tuition fees, Brexit, and above all, the reluctance to engage in employability as a measure of university success.

Top 15 performing countries and regions for employability (by country score)

Country / Region

2010 Rank

2020 Rank

Change

USA

1

1

0

France

3

2

+ 1

Germany

12

3

+ 9

UK

2

4

– 2

Mainland China

11

5

+ 6

Australia

5

6

– 1

Canada

4

7

– 3

Switzerland

7

8

– 1

South Korea

21

9

+ 12

Japan

6

10

– 4

Netherlands

8

11

– 3

Spain

10

12

– 2

Sweden

9

13

– 4

Hong Kong

17

14

+ 3

India

23

15

+ 8


Those countries that have been taking employability more seriously over the past 10 years are becoming more attractive to those students who may have previously refrained from venturing further than the US or UK for their studies. The top 150 has become even more diverse in this time, with 32 countries and regions represented in the group (only 24 in 2010). Germany (3rd), mainland China (5th), South Korea (9th), and India (15th) are the most progressive performers for employability over the last decade, and all four rank in the top 15 best-performing countries and regions. However, the strongest challenge to the traditional dominance of the US and UK is coming from Asia.

Mainland China’s country score sees an impressive increase of 132% over the past 10 years (208 in 2010, 481 in 2020), and is now ranked as the 5th most employable country or region worldwide (11th in 2010). Furthermore, all mainland Chinese institutions that ranked in the top 100 in 2020 either improved or maintained its previous ranking position, including the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) (99th), which climbs 7 places to achieve a top 100 finish. Mainland China’s performance in this ranking since 2010 echoes that of the THE World University Rankings 2021, which saw the research quality of its middle ranking universities begin to converge with those of the US for the first time.

South Korea have also seen huge improvements over the 10-year period, and currently sits in the top 10 countries in the world for employability (9th, previously ranking 21st in 2010). This achievement comes largely from the fact it has seen a 1157% increase in its country score, from 30 in 2010 to 371 in 2020. Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) (92nd) saw the largest positive position change since 2019, climbing 129 places to rank in the top 100 for the first time. India saw similar successes to that of mainland China and South Korea, as it became one of the top 15 (15th) most employable countries or regions in the world (23rd in 2010). As well as increasing its representation in the top 250 (4 in 2019, 6 in 2020), a notable strong performance is evident from the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, which first ranked 149th in 2014 and now ranks 27th in 2020, a microcosm of India’s success story in the past 10 years.

Europe has also enjoyed great success in this period, notably with Germany. It has become one of the most highly regarded countries for employability, third only to the US and France. Germany is also the third most-represented country in the graduate employability table (17), doubling its representation since 2011. Although Germany’s neighbour, France, has not seen overall success in the most recent THE World University Ranking 2021, it achieves second place in the country employability ranking (3rd in 2010). This is due to France’s ‘Grandes écoles’ system, where universities strongly favour employability as a key performance indicator. Other noticeable champions in Europe include Switzerland, Sweden, Netherlands, and Spain. Despite a much smaller number of students and universities, these countries also manage to place significant numbers in the top 250. Moreover, Netherlands and Spain have shown consistent representation in the top 50 of the Employability Rankings for many years.

Two of the biggest English-speaking challengers to the US and UK are Canada and Australia, who have both seen steady improvements over the past decade in the rankings. Over the past 10 years, both countries have retained top 10 positions for the best performing countries and regions for employability. The Australian National University (15th) ranks in the top 20 for the first time since 2013 after climbing 14 places since last year, and the University of Queensland in Australia (85th) moves into the top 100 as it climbs 47 places since 2019. Canada also sees individual success, as the University of Toronto (8th) moves back into the top 10 for the first time in 5 years.

Jamie Ramacciotti, Head of Student Content, THE, commented:

Employability represents the return of investment on education for many students and their families, and it can be a critical part of the decision-making process as students decide where and what to study.  Students want to feel confident that the investment of both time and money in a degree program will make them a strong candidate for jobs post-graduation. The latest Employability Rankings show that students have a wide range of choice when it comes to study destinations that will help power the early years of their career. While the elite institutions of the US and UK remain right at the top of the tree, Australia, Canada, and many others offer a first-class education if employability is your primary goal.”

Sandrine Belloc, Managing Partner, Emerging, added:

“Employability is increasingly challenging traditional drivers of university performance with a variety of aspects and indicators that are becoming more important, such as digitalisation, specialisation, and soft skills. The combined effects of high employability needs of employers, as well as the ramifications of the COVID-19 crisis, have led to 80% of our survey participants suggesting a radical review of the university education approach is necessary. Students and parents are considering employability more seriously when it comes to deciding where to study. Whether universities choose to measure success in this way could be decisive for the future of higher education.”

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