In the 2023 ranking for Europe (source QS University Rankings), Politecnico di Milano is in the top 7% of the best universities (690 in total). We remain firmly in first place in Italy, while in global university rankings, we have achieved our highest position in history, ranking 123rd out of a total 1,500 universities worldwide. For the first time, Politecnico enters the top 9% of universities worldwide that are recognised for their excellence.
According to QS, the university has demonstrated excellent performance, which ranks among the top 20 universities worldwide in the fields of Design (8th position), Architecture (10th position) and Engineering (18th position).
You often read news about there being more and more talk of university rankings. But what are they? On what criteria are they based? And more importantly... do we really care?
WHO DECIDES THE RANKINGS
There are dozens of rankings and sub-rankings. They are generally decided by private companies, from publishing companies to consulting companies. For example, Times Higher Education, a British periodical, The “Shanghai” ranking, as it is informally known, is published by the Shanghai Ranking Consultancy.The QS ranking, mentioned above, is developed by Quacquarelli Symonds.
No ranking is “definitive”: Francesca Saracino, Head of CareerService, explains: "Those mentioned receive the most attention in the media, but there isn't one, independent supranational body that defines once and for all the parameters for deciding which is the best university. There are various points of view and academic systems, leading to a lack of universal or international consensus on what defines a university. Some do research, others do not; some cover a range of subjects; others, like ours, are very focussed. The results obtained by these ranking systems vary considerably depending on the method and criteria used”.
SO, WHAT ARE THEY FOR?
This varied approach amongst different geopolitical regions reflects the variety of perspectives towards the academic and university system. In other words, you might find that Politecnico is ranked 1st in one ranking, 50th in another, and might not appear at all in another. But it is always good to bear this in mind. First of all, Saracino continues, “Students recognise that graduating from a highly ranked university can give them a competitive edge when seeking prestigious career opportunities as some companies consider university rankings as a factor when hiring. Researchers also find value in rankings as a means of staying informed about the strong universities in their fields of interest. In this sense, university rankings serve as a powerful tool for attracting talent on an international scale as the strong marketing associated with them ensures that universities are recognised globally, reaching various corners of the world. They also provide universities with a useful benchmark for comparison: we are able to see how we fare against our competitors and make strategic decisions accordingly".
RANKINGS ARE AN INDICATOR OF THE OVERALL WELL-BEING OF THE UNIVERSITY
They are therefore a tool rather than a goal. And in this sense it is useful to know which indicators we are strong in and those we still need to work on. They also provide insights into the shortcomings within the national and international environments in which we operate.
In the “Student Faculty” indicator, which measures the number of lecturers per student, Italian universities perform poorly. This is due to the structural limitations imposed by the Ministry of Universities and Research regarding the recruitment of lecturers.
On the other hand, we perform very well in Employer Reputation, an indicator that assesses the global opinions of employers regarding how well a university prepares its graduates for the world of work. We also receive positive recognition in the Academic Reputation indicator, based on the responses of thousands of academics who are asked to list the most prestigious universities in their scientific disciplines. Our university ranks among the top 100 universities worldwide in terms of academic and business reputation. Certain internationalisation indicators, such as the number of international staff and students, have shown improvement in recent years, particularly the new International Research Network indicator, which assesses the level of international collaboration in scientific research.
DID YOU KNOW THAT YOU CAN ALSO HAVE YOUR SAY?
Gli Alumni possono unirsi alla comunità internazionale dei referenti aziendali e condividere la loro opinione con QS su quali siano le migliori università nel mondo. Chi desidera farlo, può registrarsi per esprimere il proprio interesse a partecipare alla QS Global Employer Survey 2024: QS potrebbe contattare gli interessati via email entro i primi mesi del 2024, invitandoli a partecipare alla survey. Le risposte verranno lette in maniera aggregata per costruire gli indicatori di Employer Reputation che figurano nel QS World University Rankings. Register at this link
Find this and many other articles in MAP, the magazine of Politecnico di Milano Alumni, coming out very soon! Want to support the project and receive the Magazine at home in hard copy? Donate here!