For choosing a Business School to pursue a degree at an undergraduate or postgraduate level most of us unyieldingly rely on QS World University Rankings that compare a large pool of universities and business schools from around the world on the study abroad programme, taking into account academic excellence, industry and employer stature.
The ranking institutions such as the business schools that are globally known and guide students across geographies, include Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), Times Higher Education (THE) and Shanghai Ranking Consultancy (the Academic Ranking of World Universities; ARWU), Center for World University Rankings (CWUR), Leiden Ranking and even a ranking agency such as Aggregate Ranking of Top Universities (ARTU). The latter is a meta-ranking of study abroad programmes that positions global universities and business schools based on World University Rankings by THE, QS, and ARWU. ARTU has been produced by UNSW Australia and published annually since 2019, with retrospective rankings available for 2012 to 2018.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Business School or University
Business Schools and university rankings order institutions in higher education based on a range of factors for study abroad programmes that vary depending on the ranking. Some rankings evaluate institutions within a single country located in a particular continent or region such as Europe, i.e., a particular international business school in Spain, while others assess institutions worldwide which include a large pool of international business schools.
Rankings are typically conducted by news and business magazines, newspapers, websites, governments, large student recruitment agencies such as SI-UK or academic institutions such as Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s ARWU, Leiden University’s Leiden Ranking, and UNSW Sydney’s ARTU.
Most of the students are guided by the following questions while exercising their choice of international business schools and universities:
Which business schools and universities offer the right course options and flexibility to suit a candidate in the space of a study abroad programme?
How do these business schools and universities rank on the scale of student satisfaction and pastoral support?
What might a student’s career prospects be after graduation from these business schools and universities? What percentages of their students progress from these business schools and universities straight into employment or further study abroad programmes after completing their studies?
What are their standards of overall teaching and other deliverables in these business schools and universities?
How do these business schools and universities perform in terms of research, project management and incubation support?
What are the range of services these business schools and universities offer such as libraries, lecture theatres, sports facilities and other amenities?
How extra-curricular life might fit in with what a student is yearning for, i.e., active student unions, incubation centres, societies, debate clubs and sports teams in these business schools and universities?
Do these business schools and universities have multiple campuses or everything is consolidated in a single campus?
Are the course fees, accommodation costs and other living expenses affordable in these business schools and universities? What about these business schools and universities scholarships, bursaries hardship funds, etc.?
Are the business schools and universities recognized by relevant authorities and merit unequivocal global acceptance of their offered qualifications?
‘’We know ranking is critical for our audience,’’ says Dr Pankaj Paul, editor-in-chief of The Manager, the UK’s oldest industry chronicler, adding, ‘’hence, the forthcoming issue of our global edition is developing a ranking index based on critical criteria that have been overlooked by most of the ranking institutions.’’
‘’For example, South East Asians have a community-oriented mental disposition and how business school or university can create a sense of belongingness by locating them in a suitable learning environment,’’ suggests Dr Paul, adding ‘’accordingly a ranking system can be created that can be called a very befitting personalized ranking matrix which ranges anything from choosing a business school to university.’’
‘’I can imagine this is the best way a student can relate to a business school or university’’ says Dr Paul.
Shruti Varma, a student psychologist and mentor of C3S Business School, who combines clinical psychology with cognitive and behavioural psychology targeting students, insists that the ranking institutions must look beyond key factors such as accreditation, faculty quality, curriculum, career services, reputation and rankings, facilities and resources, entrepreneurship opportunities, project development and incubation opportunities and alumni network.
‘’All these above criteria are immensely important together with diversity and inclusion policies of the business schools and universities, financial Aid and scholarships. However, equal emphasis must be given to more personalized services such as students’ mental and emotional well-being which are so critical to their growth on the curve of experiential learning, entrepreneurship development skills, student life and cultural assimilation, etc. in any study abroad programme’’
‘’Cultural assimilation is the moot point in a study abroad programme,’’ says Haimanti Pandy, founder of Revamp Nation, a life coach and emotional intelligence domain expert. ‘’Among other criteria, the business schools and universities must be ranked on how a particular institution is paving the way for a student’s cultural assimilation, that is the process in which a minority group or culture comes to resemble a society’s majority group or assimilate the values, behaviours, and beliefs of another group whether fully or partially.’’
Navin Manaswi, founder and CEO of an emerging AI tool and metaverse organization called wowexp, opines, ‘’Maybe we intend to create a generative AI system based on a continuous feedback loop of mental disposition, aptitude, study preferences, and many such personalized tools to aid the students in all business schools and universities.’’
‘’Who knows that would zero us on a business school which pivots from popular ranking findings!’’
The business school and university ranking have become very expansive, with more criteria under consideration, total asset value or measures of wealth, research excellence, alumni success, and various combinations of measures of specialization expertise, student options, award numbers, internationalization, graduate employment, industrial linkage, historical reputation and a host of other criteria.
‘’No matter how you employ these tools there are always going to be fierce debate about rankings’ interpretation, accuracy, and usefulness,’’ says Hiren Raval group chief executive of C3S Business School and Aspire Business School, Spain.
‘’The expanding diversity in rating methodologies and accompanying criticisms of each indicate the lack of consensus in the field, hence, C3S Business School in Barcelona prefers not to be a part of most of the ranking systems despite the business school being a large institution in itself with students from well over twenty countries who are harnessed to massive paid internship and final placement opportunities.’’
‘’It seems possible to game the ranking systems through excessive self-citations or by researchers supporting each other in surveys, but C3S Business School’s ethical values are not compatible with this modus operandi adopted by many,’’ Raval discloses.
UNESCO has questioned whether rankings “do more harm than good” while acknowledging that “Rightly or wrongly, they are perceived as a measure of quality and so create intense competition between business schools and universities all over the world”
Conclusion: The Evolving Landscape of University Rankings
Business schools and universities across geographies are increasingly focusing on business studies in study abroad programmes as this discipline is considered to impart the most employable skills that the students can learn and put into practice at their place of work.
‘’All our programmes in our business school in Spain have built in the most transferrable skills into their pedagogy, that is to say, we know business degrees cover a broad range of subjects, such as economics, accounting and entrepreneurial training that can set students up for a number of career paths,’’ says Prof (Dr) John Cokley, a key mentor of C3S. ‘’Sneaking into a ranking system is certainly not among our priorities’’.