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U of T graduates are among the most employable in the world

Two different surveys, one optimistic picture for alumni
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JULIEN BALBONTIN/THE VARSITY
JULIEN BALBONTIN/THE VARSITY

The University of Toronto has been judged among the top 20 universities in the world for producing employable graduates. Times Higher Education’s (THE) 2020 Global University Employment Ranking ranked U of T as the eighth most employable university globally, while the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) Graduate Employability Rankings 2020 put U of T in 16th place.

By THE’s metrics, U of T has ranked first among Canadian universities for the last eight years in this regard, and this year, it climbed seven spots on the worldwide ranking from the 15th position in 2019. The new standing also allows U of T to claim the title of the highest ranked public university in North America.

A sign of the Times

Commissioned by French consultancy Emerging, the Global University Employment Ranking & Survey is conducted annually by the polling institute Trendence and published by THE.

The ranking component required 8,820 international recruiters to respond to the prompt, “As a person dealing with international graduates, which universities are in your opinion the best in the world when it comes to graduate employability?” 

The recruiters selected up to 20 universities from the 2019 rankings or from a worldwide database of 6,000 institutions. Ranks were allotted based on the number of votes cast for a university, with the total vote tally amounting to over 100,000.

The survey component used a sample of 3,100 managers in 22 countries. Surveyed departments included corporate and business roles, engineering roles, and human resources roles, while surveyed industries included corporations ranging from small businesses to large companies. Respondents had experience recruiting, and most had experience working with international graduates.

Among the survey participants, the plurality belonged to the Asia-Pacific region; employers from this region comprised 37.1 per cent of all respondents. Europe and Central Asia were the next best represented, housing 33.6 per cent of the respondents. The Americas were next, with 20.8 per cent, while the Middle East and Africa rounded off the list with 8.5 per cent.

On the other hand

QS’ employability rankings are also widely considered to be an authority on the subject. It ranks U of T 16th, displaced by a few institutes that it beats out on THE’s rankings, such as the University of California, Los Angeles; Princeton University; and Yale University. Under QS’ different ranking system, institutions are assigned a score based on five indicators, each given different weight.

Thirty per cent is allocated for employer reputation, based on nearly 45,000 responses to an employer survey asking respondents to select institutions with the most skilled graduates. Twenty-five per cent is allocated for alumni outcomes, based on which institutes produce the most successful alumni, or by looking at the alma maters of more than 40,000 individuals featured on high-achievers lists.

Another 25 per cent is judged for partnerships with employers per faculty, based on the level of collaboration between universities and companies as well as work placement-related partnerships reported. Finally, 10 per cent is allocated for employer-student connections, and another 10 per cent is for the graduate employment rate.

Pros and cons

On the surface, QS’ research seems more comprehensive, with Emerging’s survey having a relatively small sample size. Geographical and industrial variations in what is considered ‘employable’ also need to be accounted for, given Emerging’s broad line of questioning. 

However, one point in favour of the latter is that it’s dependent almost exclusively on responses from employers, and it does not introduce additional bias by assigning weightings. This makes it a potentially more effective indicator of employers’ likelihood of hiring graduates from specific universities.

According to the Harvard Business Review, graduates of “elite” American universities are better compensated. While U of T may not be an Ivy League institution, its graduate employability rate, as well as its high performance on employer perceptions indices, indicate that U of T graduates are in a better position than most when it comes to finding employment.

It seems that the ‘prestige’ that haunts the dreams of many high school seniors and graduate school applicants is at least partially justified.