International Student at top ranked university.

Goals of university rankings

Anyone considering a semester abroad or a complete course of study abroad is faced with a wide range of opportunities. The decision for a certain country is usually relatively easy. However, the next step in choosing a university to study abroad is a bit more difficult.

Rankings as an orientation aid

Here, university rankings can help you find your way around the jungle of information. Often it is not possible to get an idea of the universities in question on site. University rankings provide initial clues for assessing the study situation.

When deciding on a university, it is advisable not to disregard the above-mentioned limitations of the informative value of rankings. A ranking result is not always also a reflection of the reality of the local study environment.

Therefore, you should not make your decision for a university abroad solely dependent on its results in a certain university ranking. Rankings such as ARWU, which are particularly research-intensive, are of limited importance for a semester abroad. What counts here is not so much the strength of the research as the quality of the teaching and the everyday life of the students.

If you want to complete a Master’s or doctoral degree abroad, you will have far more to gain from assessments of your research strength. But here, too, ranking results offer only clues, not a complete picture.


Not only to keep an eye on the top!

In any case, it is advisable not only to take a closer look at universities with top rankings. A semester or study abroad at a university with a less good ranking result is also sufficient to make a good impression on your CV. Much more important than rankings can be, for example, the comparability of study contents and thus also the creditability of courses or study programmes in Germany.


Individual decision

Use the university rankings as one of several factors in your decision making! The ratings may provide a helpful basis. Other aspects should not be neglected. They may even be much more important:

  • Attractiveness of the study offer
  • Content orientation of the respective department
  • Amount of tuition fees
  • Geographical location of the university

Which factors are more important than others is of course different for each of you individually.
In the international and national rankings for universities abroad, it is also important to question the respective data basis and methodology of the respective university rankings. The result is not to be understood as an unqualified recommendation. Subject-specific rankings, which can be structured according to individual indicators, are much more helpful than rankings without these specialization options.