Revealed: The universities that will look great on your child or grandchild’s CV

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It’s just a week or two until thousands of students across the country get their GCSE and A-level results. Of course, this has been a year like no other as these year groups will attain their grades without having to sit a formal exam.

This year’s grades will be based on a range of evidence – including teachers’ predictions, previous exam results, the distribution of grades in the school in recent years, and how schools ranked their pupils in expected outcomes.

Paul Whiteman of the National Association of Head Teachers backed the replacement grades, saying “while not a perfect solution, this is the fairest and most pragmatic alternative to sitting exams”.

If your child or grandchild is expecting their A-level results, they may already have decided on their next step. For GCSE students, choices about employment or further study might need to be made in the next few months.

A recent league table ranked world universities by how likely they are to boost the future careers of graduates. So, which universities will impress recruiters when your children or grandchildren enter the world of work?

US universities most likely to impress graduate recruiters

The Graduate Employability Rankings, based on the views of 42,000 employers, highlights the universities most likely to impress graduate recruiters. Essentially, it is an international league table for how much universities are likely to boost the future careers of graduates.

The QS group asked employers where they recruit their most “competent, innovative and effective” graduates. The rankings also consider employment statistics for former students, where high-flying graduates in top jobs studied, and the range of partnerships between universities and employers.

According to the league table, it’s a degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that is most likely to impress a graduate recruiter.

The private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts is renowned for its high status in technology and innovation and can claim former students such as the astronaut Buzz Aldrin, former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, and Amar Bose, the sound engineer and billionaire founder of the audio equipment firm.

US universities dominate the rankings, taking the top four places in the list. Graduates from MIT, Stanford, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and Harvard, are the most sought after.

Many alumni of Stanford, in second place, have ended up working in Silicon Valley technology, with former students including Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and Netflix founder Reed Hastings.

Ben Sowter, research director at QS, said that universities which have big global research reputations are not necessarily “those that do most to nurture student employability”.

He said that the cost of tuition fees and a competitive jobs market meant that students were increasingly “concerned about the likelihood that their prospective university will help them thrive afterwards”.

This explains how degrees from two of Australia’s leading universities are impressive to recruiters, despite neither the University of Sydney or the University of Melbourne sitting in the top 30 in the equivalent academic league table, the World University Rankings. However, the fact that they are fifth and sixth on the ‘employability’ list shows how sought after their graduates are.

UK universities also impress recruiters

If your child or grandchild wants to remain in the UK to study, there are plenty of British universities that also impress potential employers.

Cambridge is the highest UK-ranked university, sitting in seventh place in the rankings, while rival Oxford sits in 10th position. On the strength of their reputations with employers, Cambridge and Oxford were the highest-rated, although UK universities slipped back on partnerships with employers and graduate employment rates.

Other UK universities that feature strongly on the list include:

  • University College London (18th)
  • Imperial College London (33rd)
  • University of Manchester (35th)
  • University of Bristol (47th)
  • London School of Economics (LSE) (49th)
  • University of Leeds (53rd)
  • University of Edinburgh (57th)
  • King’s College London (58th).

Overall, from the top 500 universities for employability, 102 are from Asia just behind Western Europe on 144. The United States has 83 universities in the top 500, including 13 of the top 30.

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If you’re interested in helping to fund your child or grandchild’s education, or you’re looking to put a financial plan in place to support your family, we can help. For help with your financial planning needs, email or contact your adviser on 020 3828 8100.

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