Are university subject rankings important?

01 Dec 2017 - Barni Homden

Deciding on a university to go to and a degree to study isn't always easy. There are so many universities and degree choices, you might feel overwhelmed!

There are a lot of things to take into consideration, from which country you'd like to study in, to whether you like the look of a university's campus.

However, one of the biggest factors in deciding which university to go to – maybe even the biggest factor – is how each university performs in the league tables.

University league tables have a very prestigious reputation among students from across the world. Many will decide on their study destination solely on the basis of how a university places in the rankings.

However, students will also often focus only on a university's overall ranking. While this is important, league tables also rank universities within each subject area. This makes looking at league tables a little bit more complicated; so are university subject rankings important?

The simple answer is yes. It can be well worth your time to carefully study how a university ranks in different subjects, as well as its overall ranking. Often, the right university for you won't be one with the highest overall ranking.

For instance, if you are interested in studying a Business degree, you should look carefully at which universities are well ranked for Business. A university might rank very highly in Business, but not do as well in the overall rankings. In this case, you can still get a great education in this particular field.

Are university subject rankings important

The same is true for all subjects. If you're interested in studying, say, Biology, you should find out not just which universities rank well, but which universities specifically rank well for Biology.

Considering subject rankings is particularly important if your subject is quite technical, or if you have a very specific career in mind. Engineering is a good example. You want to make sure your choice of university offers good teaching and facilities for Engineering, and a good way to do this is to check its subject rankings.

Sometimes, it's even worth going further. If your area of interest is quite new or specialised, it may not be accurately covered by league tables' subject rankings: Game Design, for example. In these cases, it's best to do your own research, and make sure you find out what each university has to offer in your chosen subject.

At the end of the day, university league tables will always be important in helping you decide on where to study, but they shouldn't be the only factor. And you definitely shouldn't simply decide based on the overall ranking! When picking a study destination, be sure to look at the subject rankings too – it's important!


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