The United Kingdom is one of the top destinations for Pakistani students heading abroad to add to their academic credentials. And it’s understandable why. The UK has some of the oldest and most respected institutions in the world like Oxford, Cambridge, London School of Economics and Lincoln’s Inn, has plenty of expatriate population from the Indo-Pak subcontinent to make friends with and streets across many of its cities offer a variety of desi eatables should you feel the longing for culinary delights of back home. But despite the massive appeal and credible role in some of the most significant discoveries in various fields, a study has found UK varsities slipping down graduate employability rankings and their graduates becoming less appealing to employers. A latest survey conducted by a leading French HR consultancy Emerging found that graduates of universities in the UK are not a priority of recruiters anymore. The Global University Employability Survey 2017 released by highly respected Times Higher Education lists the top 150 universities in the world in terms of employability of their graduates. The survey’s results are based on feedback from top recruiters in 22 countries, who listed which university graduates they thought were most employable.
This year, the UK secured only 10 places in the 150-strong list, which has been published for the past seven years. Four years ago, the UK had 13 universities on the list. On the contrary, China had seven universities named in the top 150 for graduate employability rankings, the same number as in 2015 ranking. But Chinese universities have since gained ground. Peking University, for example, gained three positions to grab the 14th spot from 2016’s 17th position, while Shanghai Jiao Tong University jumped to the 30th position from last year’s 53rd.
On the other hand, all of the UK universities in the list dropped down the rankings. Cambridge was 4th last year, but slid a spot to 5th in 2017 ranking. Oxford, which was named the top university in the world recently by Times Higher Education, dropped eight places to the 15th position from the previous year’s 7th. The biggest drops were experienced by the University of Edinburgh and University of Birmingham. The former dropped 46 places from 2016’s 32 to land at the 78th spot, while the latter fell to the 142nd position from the 90th, sliding 52 places down the ranking.
Causes of concern
But the question remains that despite some of the most prestigious names in education in its resume, why is the UK losing the race? For starters, experts opine that UK’s higher education has traditionally exhibited weakness in linking with companies.
Other key factors include the steady rise of Asian universities and the loss of advantage of offering courses in English. More and more universities around the world are now offering degree programs that have English as the medium of instruction. This has certainly taken the edge away from universities in the US and UK. Laurent Dupasquier, associate director of Emerging, agrees. “English has become the lingua franca of the university world,” he said. Even countries that earlier remained confined to offering education in native languages, such as France, Germany and China, are now offering degree courses in English.
Rising cost of higher education is also becoming a major consideration, with many top candidates of UK universities now heading to countries like Germany that not only offer top-notch education in English, but also do not break the student’s bank.
And finally, Dupasquier mentioned Brexit as another major reason. “It is obvious that Brexit has huge implications for the higher education system in the UK,” he told Times Higher Education. “As well as the draw of learning the language, the UK was [in the past] an open and welcoming place to go [for students]. Whether this is still the case has been put into doubt by Brexit.”
Considering the realities, employers are certainly beginning to look for top talent in higher education institutions outside the UK. It might be time for you too to reanalyze your plans of studying in the UK.