Graduates keen to change the world more attractive to employers, study finds

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics degrees are particularly sought-after, a new report reveals

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Employers are increasingly looking for university graduates who will make a significant contribution both to their company, and the wider community.

This is a finding from the Global Employability University Ranking and Survey 2023-24, published by Times Higher Education, which lists the top 100 universities in the world for graduate employability.

It also says recruiters are looking for graduates with digital skills and those studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The report reveals that American universities lead global charts for employability while Asian universities also scored highly for graduate employment.

California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is named the best university in the world for the number of graduates landing a job.

Six out of the world’s top 10 universities for graduate employability are based in the United States.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology came second, dropping from the number one rank last year, while Stanford University was third.

Two UK universities made it to the top 10 list with the University of Cambridge at number four. The University of Tokyo was the highest-ranked Asian entry, in seventh position, beating the University of Oxford, which was eighth.

The data for the report was collected by French consultancy specialists Emerging and published with Times Higher Education.

Seeta Bhardwa, editor at Times Higher Education, said: "The research shows the key skills employers are increasingly looking for and this year it’s fascinating to see social impact and leadership is the key skill they’re looking for.

"It shows how employers want graduates that can make a significant contribution not only to their company but also to the wider community and the country too."

Asian universities continue to improve

The report found that although US universities were still considered the best in the world for graduate employment, the country’s universities are losing ground.

While there were no universities from the Middle East and North Africa region on the list in 2011, now the region has 12 higher education institutions featured.

Chinese institutions have also improved – Peking University retained 14th spot, Tsinghua University climbed up to 21st from 27th last year, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University has moved up four places to 39th.

Indian universities also made progress. The Indian Institute of Technology Bombay moved up 10 places to 62nd, while the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi moved from 28th to 27th.

Sandrine Belloc, managing partner at Emerging, said: "The data behind the ranking provides some absolutely fascinating nuggets about the shifting sands in global higher education regarding graduates’ employability.

"Most notable this year are the significant improvements in higher education employability in India, which we should look out for over the coming years, as all indicators show it improving at a rapid rate.

"The data also indicates Chinese universities are set to increase their presence even further, with at least one university reaching the top 10 in the next few years.

"The panorama of US universities in the ranking has changed considerably over the last 10 years on the topic of employability, but the number and quality of US universities is still high and every year we can observe the ability of some universities to bounce back spectacularly.

"In Europe, I’d like to draw attention to the number of votes cast for German universities, which places Germany in third place, replacing the UK, whose higher education has seen a marked decline since Brexit.

"I also suggest keeping a close look at Spanish higher education, with a growing number of world-class institutions in the ranking."

Asia has 49 institutions in the top 250, five more than last year which represents the largest continental increase with China and India showing progress in the rankings.

For the current edition of the report, 100,700 votes were canvassed from 11,560 managers in 21 countries.

Updated: November 23, 2023, 10:24 AM