US universities top world rankings for student employability

Cambridge and Oxford are the only UK universities to make the top 10

American universities top the global rankings for employability while just two British institutions made the top 10.

California Institute of Technology (Caltech) topped the list for being the best university in the world for the number of graduates landing a job, according to the league table published by Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

Caltech, a private research university, was followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in second place.

Harvard University, which ranked first for employability last year, slipped to third in this year’s rankings.

The UK’s Cambridge University was unchanged in fourth place, while the University of Oxford rose six places to fifth this year.

The other institutions in the top 10 are Tokyo University (6th), Stanford University (7th), University of Toronto (8th), National University of Singapore (9th) and Yale University (10th).

The employability rankings are separate to an overall league table that examines other factors such as quality of teaching and research. The University of Oxford topped that list in 2020.

On employability, universities were ranked according to votes from 9,000 “operational and international managers” in 22 countries.

There were 6,000 universities ranked according to their performance “in the context of the new disruptive workplace”.

Laurent Dupasquier, of the HR consulting company Emerging, in Paris, which commissioned the survey, said employers were putting increased emphasis on “job-ready” graduates.

He said countries with traditionally close links between higher education and industry performed strongly.

He cited Germany, China, South Korea and India as the most “progressive performers” for employability.

Sandrine Belloc, also of Emerging, said US and UK universities were not geared to employability.

She said there was a risk companies themselves could go into competition with universities by developing in-house courses if educational institutions did not adapt.

She told Times Higher Education: "Digitalisation has gone so fast and is so disruptive that it ... offers space for companies to move [into education] themselves."

The other UK universities performing strongly for employability included Imperial College London (18th), King's College London (21st) and the London School of Economics and Political Science (37th).

Which universities made the top 10?

  1. California Institute of Technology, US (2nd in 2019)
  2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US (3rd in 2019)
  3. Harvard University, US (1st in 2019)
  4. University of Cambridge, UK (4th in 2019)
  5. University of Oxford, UK (11th in 2019)
  6. The University of Tokyo, Japan (7th in 2019)
  7. Stanford University, US (5th in 2019)
  8. University of Toronto, Canada (15th in 2019)
  9. National University of Singapore, Singapore (14th in 2019)
  10. Yale University, US (9th in 2019)