Graduates from these unis are highly coveted by employers worldwide

job skills
UC Berkeley was listed as one of the top universities considered by employers by Times Higher Education last year. Source: Justin Sullivan/AFP

In this day and age, attending a university that will give you the job skills you need to be successful in the workforce is crucial. This makes it doubly important to choose a uni that not only has the right programme for you, but will give you the knowledge and skills to land a job after graduation. 

Enter Times Higher Education (THE). For 12 years, the organisation has been running a survey to reveal the world’s top unis that produce graduates companies love. This year’s Global Employability University Ranking and Survey (GEURS) lists unis according to academic excellence, specialisation, focus on work expertise, graduate skills, digital performance and internationality.

“When students and their parents are looking to choose a university, they want to know that their chosen institution is going to prepare them for the world of work,” shares Seeta Bhardwa, editor at THE Student. “This ranking helps students to find which universities around the world are teaching students the key skills they need to enter employment and succeed in the workplace.”

This year, 98,014 employers worldwide voted on which unis teach the key skills needed by students to thrive at work. These employers provided around 800,000 graduate jobs or placements in total over the course of 2022 to 2023. 

“Since its inception in 2010, the GEURS has been more than a yearly specialised ranking,” says Sandrine Belloc, Managing Partner of Emerging, a consultancy that links companies and higher education institutions. “Emerging’s research has always shown that reputation, academic excellence, and employability are the three fundamentals for employers when assessing a university.”

The top unis on THE’s list include MIT, Caltech, Harvard and Cambridge. Others include:

2022 Rank University Country 2021 Rank
1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology US 1
2 California Institute of Technology US 2
3 Harvard University US 3
4 University of Cambridge UK 4
5 Stanford University US 5
6 University of Oxford UK 8
7 The University of Tokyo Japan 6
8 National University of Singapore Singapore 9
9 Princeton University US 10
10 Yale University US 7

The full list of the best 250 unis preparing students with the job skills they need to thrive in the workplace can be found here.

Employers want people who can put their thoughts to action. Source: Susan Walsh / AFP

Where are these universities located?

According to THE, the top 10 unis vied after by employers are mainly located in the US, UK, Japan and Singapore. Of these, the US hosts the top three unis, while those in mainland China are rising in rank. Canada is performing fairly well, with the University of Toronto landing a spot among the top 20 of the GEURS list.

The UK is seeing a downward trend. Russell Group unis tend to take the top spots, but strong competition from other English-speaking countries is affecting the nation’s rank. The rise of tuition fees and Brexit have played a factor, as well. However, THE states that UK unis’ reluctance to use employability as a measure of their success has become their ultimate downfall. 

Belloc explains why this is important in 2022. “In view of the shifts and transformations which we observe in the corporate marketplace and in how employers assess universities, employability remains a key factor for both students and their parents who wish to estimate the value of a degree, and for the universities who need to refine their curriculum to successfully educate their future graduates and stay competitive in a changing world.”

Employers list digital skills as the most important. Source: Wang Zhao/AFP

What job skills are employers looking for?

Of all job skills listed by employers, digital skills were found to be the most important. These refer to the ability to find, evaluate, share, and create content using digital devices, including computers and smartphones.

This became more apparent with the COVID-19 pandemic. It was found that over 90% of organisations have some form of digital initiative, while only 23% do not depend on such operations or products at all. 

As such, employers are looking for graduates from unis that incorporate digital skill training into their curriculums. “Today, 92% of respondents to the survey believe universities should do more to increase digital job skills,” says Belloc. “Digital skills are not the exclusive concern anymore of computer science faculties and their students, any university digital plan needs a transversal approach that includes all stakeholders.”

THE finds that US unis are taking the lead on this, especially Arizona State University, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of California, Berkeley, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Florida Institute of Technology. The latter is the best-performing this year, climbing up 85 places to #76. 

Other factors considered by employers are subject specialisation and work expertise, which contribute to better job skills in the workplace.