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Should you choose a school for studying abroad based on the overall ranking or the professional ranking?

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Students who are going to study abroad, no matter which country you plan to go to, will have a “common problem” before choosing a school and major – should I look at the overall ranking or the professional ranking? Which ranking is more informative?

What is the overall ranking?

The university rankings published by QS and Times are two lists that cannot be bypassed. The QS World University Rankings, published every summer by QuacquarelliSymonds, a British education market consultancy, is known for its wide range of surveys, wide influence and many categories.

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings, in partnership with Reuters, the world’s top three news media agencies, are known for their credibility, transparency and accuracy.

The QS ranking assesses a total of 6 indicators:

  • Academic reputation (40%)
  • Employer Evaluation (10%)
  • Teacher-student ratio (20%)
  • Number of cited papers per faculty member (20%)
  • International Faculty and Staff Ratio (5%)
  • International student ratio (5%)

Five key indicators are measured in the THE rankings:

  • Research income (2.5%)
  • Degree of internationalization (5%)
  • Teaching and Students (30%)
  • Research Indicators (30%)
  • Academic influence (32.5%)

It is not difficult to see that the QS ranking has a relatively high proportion of subjective indicators such as employer evaluation and peer evaluation, while the THE ranking focuses more on quantifiable objective indicators such as proportion and quantity.

Different indicators and scoring methods used in different lists make the ranking of the same school different in different lists.

What is the professional ranking?

Which one to choose between the professional ranking and the overall ranking is a question that many students will struggle with.

It is good to choose the overall ranking, but its advantageous major might not be what I want to study, or it might not be strong in the major I want to study.

If I choose a school with a high ranking in the major I’m interested in but a low overall ranking, I would became a little transparent in front of HR when finding jobs.

This brings us back to the question of ranking indicators – what kind of universities will be the ranking winners? Large, prestigious, and research-focused, such universities easily rank high on the list.

As for some small but powerful research colleges, they may be very strong in specific fields, whether it is the investment of research funds or the resources of professors, but because they only focus on a few fields, they are “short-board” in the ranking evaluation.

What should be considered?

If the major you want to study is very professional, and you are sure that you will also work in related fields after graduation, then it is recommended that you consider schools with strong professional rankings, industry resources and reputation.

If you do not have high requirements for majors, or if you want to study a wide range of majors, you can consider schools with higher overall rankings.

If you really don’t know how to choose, you can also combine the two at the application stage, applying not only to one or two schools with good professional rankings, but also to several schools with top overall rankings. After you receive the offer, you can make the final decision after you have integrated the situation of the offer.

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