Spring time heralds the release of another round of university league table rankings. While the top three spots are often awarded to the the usual suspects, it’s incredible to see how institutions that began life as polytechnics have risen up the rankings and established themselves as major seats of learning – both among local and international students. Where your institution ranks in the league table isn’t merely an issue of vanity; it can have a major impact on your faculty’s performance and ability to attract funding. Rather than simply hoping for a higher ranking than last year, there are active leadership and management measures you can take to improve your university’s position in the league table.
Like it or not, university league table rankings matter
University rankings are fuelled by a variety of data surrounding teaching standards, research output, student exam results, student satisfaction, graduate prospects, and expenditure on academic and student services – to name a few factors. Your ranking can influence whether you’re a candidate for government funding, how internal budgets are allocated and your department’s attractiveness to students (especially international students): the European Association for Higher Education sums it up well in their blog about why university rankings still matter.
Incentivise students to pursue a career in research
With the right leadership and management, your department can help improve your university’s rankings. One way to do this is by improving its research output: both the quality of research and the number of staff involved in research. Improving the quality of research is more of a long-term goal; adjusting the number of research staff in your faculty is something you can alter in the short term. The most obvious way to increase the number of research staff is to hire more staff. The other option is to encourage current students to become involved in research after they’ve finished studying, through professional development programmes that prepare them for a career in research.
To ensure excellent graduate prospects, invest in the right career guidance programmes
Your students’ ability to find employment within the first year of graduating is another factor that the right leadership and management approach can improve. Although the current job market climate plays a role, it’s up to faculty heads to prepare their students for the world of work. A fantastic degree is a starting point, but won’t—unfortunately—guarantee them a job straight after uni. Students need robust career development courses in place to equip them with the right work readiness skills. And by setting up a graduate loyalty system to stay in contact with alumni, you can measure the efficacy and validity of these programmes.
Improve student satisfaction in your faculty if you want to see better rankings
Student satisfaction (especially with the quality of the teaching, leadership and management at their university) is another area that can be addressed to influence rankings. By understanding your students’ priorities, you can align your faculty’s policies and spending to improve student satisfaction. One such priority might well be career planning and support – in which case you can invest in a work readiness programme. Research conducted among higher education institutions in the United States found that universities that focus on improving student satisfaction witness higher retention and completion rates – both factors that influence league table rankings.
Higher performing students boost university scores in the league tables
Your leadership and management style will dictate how well you’re able to draw the right talent to your department. Higher performing students are more attracted to higher performing universities and departments, and will vastly improve the chances of your institution and department enjoying higher exam results, completion rates and the number of students who obtain a first or 2:1.
Curriculo Solution’s Industry Engagement Programme (IEP) is an innovative and cutting-edge approach to empowering students ahead of their careers that fits in alongside any curriculum. For more information about how we can prepare the students in your department for brilliant careers, download our career guide.