Global higher education think-tank QS Quacquarelli Symonds has named the world’s top 500 universities for nurturing graduate employability.
The list includes six universities in South Africa, led by the University of Cape Town, which placed inside the top 100 overall.
The 2020 QS Graduate Employability Rankings offer authoritative, independent, multivariate data regarding the relationship between university choice and career outcomes. In so doing, they meet growing student demand for information about the potential employment benefits their education might offer.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is ranked number-one, and is followed by Stanford University, and the University of California at Los Angeles. In particular, Asia’s top universities outperform continental Europe’s leading institutions.
To explore the university-employability relationship, QS uses a five-metric method that captures each institution’s regard among 44,000 employers worldwide, alma mater data from 29,000 highly successful individuals, institutional industry partnerships, employer presence on campus, and location-adjusted graduate employment rate.
MIT retains the dual honour of being both world number-one in QS’s overall exercise, and the world number-one for employability.
Asia’s leading university is Tsinghua University in Mainland China, which ranks 6th, followed by the University of Hong Kong (9th), and Peking University (19th), The University of Tokyo (23rd) and National University of Singapore (24th). Continental Europe’s top university is Switzerland’s ETH Zurich, which placed 17th, while the UK’s leading universities are Cambridge (8th) and Oxford (10th).
South African universities
In South Africa, UCT was again at the top in Africa, followed by the University of Witwatersrand. The former climbed several places to be inside the top 100 in 2019.
UCT published its graduation survey results for the class of 2018 earlier this year. The survey asked 4,791 graduating students about their plans after graduating and whether they had already secured employment.
The private sector emerged as the leading employer of 53.46% of graduates, with 19.71% employed in the public sector, and 6.01% by non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
In respect of their monthly earnings, the research indicated that 23.39% of students earn between R20,000 and R30,000, 16.14% earn between R15,001 and R20,000, and 5.21% between R5,001 and R7,000.
Around 80% of UCT’s class of 2018 are ‘meaningfully occupied’, with 44.5% employed; 31% studying further; and 3.75% self-employed.
The results show that the Faculty of Health Sciences was the top performing faculty in terms of graduate employability, with 70% of all medical students employed at the time of the survey. Close behind was the Faculty of Law, with 63.4% of students employed.
Only 10.71% of UCT’s 2018 graduates are still seeking employment, the survey showed.
Wits’ most recent graduate exit survey results, published at the end of December, showed that just over half (52%) of graduates were employed, while 29% were furthering their studies.
Nearly 14,000 attended graduation during this period of which around 6,000 responded to the survey.
Of those employed, 97% secured employment within six months of completing their qualification at Wits.
Two thirds found employment during their studies or prior to completion – 26% within three months and 4% within six months.
60% of respondents said that they are in professions directly related to their field of study, while 17% said that they are in somewhat related fields.
The survey results show that the private sector was the biggest employer of Wits graduates (51%), followed by government (18%).
The top 10 employers of Wits graduates include the ‘big four auditors‘ (KPMP, Deloitte, EY & PWC) as well as banks such as FNB and Absa.