University Rankings for PhD Students

What is the best university for ME?

This is often a question that potential PhD candidates pose to me. Unfortunately, there is not a straightforward answer. Mainly because YOU will need to decide. In order to make an informed decision, I would like to draw attention to a few issues that you might want to consider before researching in which institution you want to pursue your PhD.

Browse through PhD programmes

Pursuing a PhD is not an easy decision, it involves 3-5 years of full-time study and you will need to invest time and money to fulfill a PhD. Firstly, you will devote a great amount of time researching a specific topic, thus it is important to make sure that you are interested passionate about this topic because it will stay with you for a long time.

Thus, you might want to search PhDPortal with different keywords that will reflect your topic of choice to ensure that you have researched all available PhD programmes worldwide. Secondly, you might want to consider where you would like to live in the next 3-5 years and which PhD programme you can afford. PhDPortal provides information about higher education and living experience in different countries in Europe.

In terms of funding, you can use the Scholarshipportal which is devoted to providing scholarship information.

In relation to university selection, you might want to have a look at the available ranking systems in order to get an overview of how universities compare to each other. There are global and national ranking systems. You will find a snapshot of the ranking systems below. If you click on the links, you would be able to compare institutions often by discipline, teaching and research quality, student experience, etc.

Global University Rankings

If you are interested in getting a feel for how 'good' your university is at a global level, please click on the links below. You can find information about the rankings of institutions in the past few years, and you can apply different criteria for example rankings by discipline or by location.

  • The World University Rankings is provided by Times Higher Education along with Thomson Reuters. This ranking system is based on 13 performance indicators and it is widely used.
  • QS World University Rankings: This system enables you to compare institutions by faculty, subject, region (Asia, Europe) or best student cities.
  • Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) or Shanghai Rankings was the first global ranking system developed for universities and it provides annual information since 2003.

National ranking systems (UK)

If you are interested specifically in UK institutions, there are the following national rankings:

  • Complete University Guide: This system provides ranking information for UK institutions since 2008 based on criteria such as entry standards, research assessment, student satisfaction and graduate prospects. You can find out how institutions compare in different UK regions and in different disciplines.
  • The Guardian University Guide: The ranking scores are based on scores regarding teaching, career prospects and spending per student.
  • There is also the Times Good University Guide but this is not free online - you will need to purchase it online.

All these ranking systems can provide an insight into educational institutions but bare in mind that ranking systems have been criticised about the metrics they use. Although they might give you an indication of the quality of the institution, it is advisable to check and conduct research on your own especially in relation to your personal preferences about field of study, lifestyle, funding as mentioned above.

To be accepted in a university abroad you will have to prove you meet at least the minimum English speaking requirements. You can advance your English language skills by attending language schools abroad in classes that match your current English speaking level.

Good luck with your research!

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