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May 23, 2019, 06:53:36 am

Author Topic: University ranking, fluctuations, what are their importance?  (Read 878 times)  Share 

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University ranking, fluctuations, what are their importance?
« on: December 07, 2018, 06:06:55 pm »
With ATAR’s nearly coming out, offers to come out in mid-December to February, you will have chances to change preferences. Some will say put a higher ranking uni up, since you have the ATAR!…STOP here...

Often, you’ll see marketing and website material say, “First in nursing”, “Top 10 university in Australia”. Universities sometimes communicate why you as a student should go to that university (and how “well” it does), through rankings.

Before you say.. choose uni x over uni y, due to rankings, consider the ranking methodology and the  age of the university, with it's influence on rankings!

Ages of Universities
-   Traditionally, universities that are older do rank higher in the rankings.
Look at the table of rankings of older vs newer universities


Different ranking organisations and their methods
*For time sake, I will use the biggest organisations*

-   The Times – Higher education World University Rankings
Surveys and data are collected on different aspects listed below (Extremely simplified).  This data is then weighed, to produce a score for ranking
Industry Income – 2.8%
International Outlook – 7.5%
Citations – 30%
Research – 30%
Teaching – 30%
Read more here >>  https://www.timeshighereducation.com/student/advice/world-university-rankings-explained

-   QS – World Rankings
Surveys and data are collected on different aspects listed below (Extremely simplified).  This data is then weighed, to produce a score for ranking
Academic reputation - 40%
Employer reputation - 10%
Faculty/Student Ratio - 20%
Citations per faculty - 20%
International faculty ratio/International student ratio (5% each)
Read more here >> https://www.topuniversities.com/qs-world-university-rankings/methodology

-   Shang Hai Rankings - Academic Ranking of World Universities
Universities are ranked by several indicators of academic or research performance, including alumni and staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals
Quality of Education – 10%
Quality of Faculty – 40%
Research Output – 40%
Per capita Performance – 10%
Read more >>  http://www.shanghairanking.com/ARWU-Methodology-2018.html

How rankings differ for different universities?
Here are the latest rankings for some universities (lower is better)..
Clearly the “best” university is ANU if you followed the QS rankings OR Melbourne Uni if you looked at the Times and ShangHai rankings.

Why rankings change year in, year out?
-   As per the methods mentioned at the top…
 Management may change, due to budget cuts. Faculty/student ratios can change, meaning students get less support.

A university may produce less citations in a year or have fewer international students (this can be partially affected by politics and government policy).
If you ever see a graph like this, they usually do not hold much significance.

What about smaller universities?
-   Smaller universities are clearly disadvantaged by the global rankings.
-   By default, smaller universities suffer from having less “reputation” and recognition amongst organisations, academics and world audiences. A university like Monash will be more well known in Spain and the USA, than Notre Dam or Victoria Uni.

What isn’t measured by these rankings?
-   Student support
-   Scholarships and leadership opportunities
-   Atmosphere for learning
-   Social at universities
-   Easy of travel to universities

Final takeaways and tips
1. Rankings are not the be all, end all.  They are simply just arbitrary rankings, produced by formulas and criteria. A university may rank higher in one ranking, than another!
2. Go to the university that best suits you!!!!!
3. Speak to other students and see what you can find out. Sometimes you may find out things that won’t be known just by reading rankings!
4. Rankings cannot incorporate or measure some things effectively!
5. Rankings calculations are complex and methodologies are NOT uniform, resulting in different results that can be difficult to understand.
6. Differences in year to year rankings are not important in the general grand scheme of things.

Bri MT

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Re: University ranking, fluctuations, what are their importance?
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2018, 06:32:35 pm »
Thanks E6P for the detailed explanation! :)
Definitely an important message, and I'm glad you raised it

To add my thoughts ATAR pre-reqs onto this (since some people view them in a similar way):

The ATAR prereq for courses usually changes depending on how many people want to get in versus how many spaces there are. Just because a course is popular doesn't necessarily mean it's the best course for you. As E6P illuminated, if you happen to get a higher ATAR than expected that frees up more options for you, don't give away that freedom of choice by automatically picking a prestigious, high ranking, or high ATAR course.

If you didn't get as high an ATAR, your number of choices never drops to zero; and there'll be pathways that can lead you to your preferred destination. It might take you a little longer - it might not - but as long as you're willing to keep trying you can get to the career you aspire to.
Bri 'cause that's me & MT as I was previously known as miniturtle

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Re: University ranking, fluctuations, what are their importance?
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2018, 08:21:27 pm »
It's an interesting observation that these rankings are heavily weighted towards research rather than actual teaching/delivery/supports. Particularly students at the pre-undergraduate/undergraduate levels like to use these rankings to judge, but imo these would be more relevant at the honours/postgraduate level as opposed to the standard Bachelor degrees. Rankings at this level would reflect more accurately if they focused on teaching quality as well as these factors.

I get why research is there, but when research, publications etc. heavily influence these rankings, it's difficult to use them accurately to compare. Obviously research contributes to the actual content that's being delivered.. not denying that whatsoever. But there's more to it in terms of overall rankings which are heavily weighted towards an area which doesn't have much of an impact in terms of Bachelor degrees.

If you are looking for a course as a Year 12 school leaver or somebody wanting to enter a Bachelor degree, imo the focus should not be on these rankings but:

- Time/distance from house. As a school student, chances are you probably live within a very reasonable distance from your school. You probably walk, catch the bus or get dropped off by somebody. It's nice to have a school close to home. In the case of universities, this luxury in most cases doesn't exist. It is also a challenge because your start and end times can vary daily and not be consistent year in year out. So getting there is often your own individual responsibility. You have to be satisfied that you can travel the distance on a daily (or near to it) basis. I know from my own personal experiences travelling 10 mins to La Trobe and 90 mins to Monash (both times one-way, so think about this if doubled), I definitely preferred the 10 mins to La Trobe and often found myself quite tired and lacking leisure time when at Monash. Do you have to work to support yourself as well? If so, this can add to the lack of time and your overall mental wellbeing. So... weighing this up is very important.

- Supports available to you as an individual - e.g. after-hours library, support classes (e.g. math booster for math skills), essay writing guidance/help etc.

- Quality of the content being delivered & the lecturers/tutors etc. chosen to deliver these. Teaching quality and having somebody who you can easily understand is absolutely critical. From lecturers who deliver the cohort-wide lectures to the associates/tutors etc. who do the smaller classes. I can recall one of my first ever statistics units I did at uni, the lecturer was absolutely fantastic (also happened to be my lab class teacher). He was so engaging, so much so it inspired me to go and do a minor in stats in the end. Enthusiasm and the ability to clearly communicate/teach is arguably just as important as the research/output side of things. Let's face it, we're paying at least $750 a subject assuming HECS. We also must remember that in A LOT of cases, the primary role of the "lecturer" is research, so teaching/delivering lectures is often 2nd to the research. You can really tell just by the attitude of the lecturer whether they want to be there or not. At least that was my experience. Even from my perspective as a now school teacher, engaging with your students, being understood by your students and making the learning experience at the very minimum bearable assists so much.

- Is my course accredited by a peak body? Most are, but it's important to check. If they are accredited, chances are they are teaching very similar content to other universities with the same course. So then we must look at how it's being delivered (e.g. face-to-face or the cheap/cost-cutting blended/online mode). For e.g. my IT degree is accredited by the Australian Computer Society (ACS) and my MTeach is accredited by the Victorian Institute of Teaching (the registration body for all teachers in Victoria).

- Does my uni provide opportunities to apply what i've learnt somewhere? Industry placements etc. are so important these days. As Bachelor degrees become more common, it means that the person who will end up getting the job will be somebody with the "edge". It could be hons/Masters, it could be an internship... but the point i'm trying to make here is that opportunities for practical on-the-job experience (whatever your discipline) is so important.

For my MTeach, I can recall the amount of posters that had "Monash is in the top 20 of universities worldwide for Education".... it certainly didn't feel like it and did it have an impact on my job prospects in comparison to other candidates? I don't feel it did and I certainly didn't flaunt that fact in the slightest. Perhaps for other disciplines it is different but I guess it varies. I actually felt that my MTeach didn't prepare me for my career as well as it could have, I remember one of my most featured complaints being the minimal amount of "on-the-job" training (placements). From an IT perspective, well we know that technology advances at a very rapid rate and this was certainly my experience... but I think that was more so the discipline choice rather than anything else.  8)

Just my thoughts :)
« Last Edit: December 07, 2018, 08:58:04 pm by Aaron »
BInfoTech (LTU), MTeach SecEd (Monash) Maths/IT

Current secondary teacher in Maths and Computing.
Experienced teaching at both secondary and university level.

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