How international PhD students choose top universities and interpret reputation and rankings

The World 100 2013/14 research project focused on international PhD students, and considered recruitment, use of rankings, university choice and reputational understanding. We conducted qualitative interviews with international PhDs at 21 of our member institutions across 12 countries, including the US, Canada, Australia, Japan, Spain, Scandinavia, Ireland and the UK. Moreover, quantitative surveys were distributed to all universities in the world’s top 200, with over 1,000 current and aspiring International PhDs responding. To conduct the study we were supported from the World 100 Reputation Network members for the interviews, and The British Council in Japan and in circulating the surveys.

We also looked at the relationship between ranking status and perceived reputation, which was particularly interesting after our work with academics in 2011/12 showed the academics were keen only to move to top World 100 universities, and always saw their own university as more reputable than rankings suggested. We were keen to see whether students from different continents or countries behaved differently towards reputational indicators. The project considered how top students choose top universities for PhD study and what role reputation plays in attracting the best PhD students relative to the utilitarian factors such as location, facilities, price etc.

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PhD Choice Factors 2013/14: Full Report Qualitative Findings

PhD Choice Factors 2013/14: Full Report Quantitative Findings

PhD Choice Factors 2013/14: Full Report Summary, Conclusions, and Recommendations