The global reach of universities’ alumni networks is the subject of a new institutional ranking released by international education marketing consultancy, Intead.
The company compared the LinkedIn profiles of graduates from the US campuses with the largest international student populations.
Based on the number of alumni whose LinkedIn profiles claim they have ‘international’ or ‘global’ in their job titles, Intead concluded that Georgetown University has the most powerful alumni network with 8.3% of graduate profiles displaying a ‘global’ job.
The rankings attempt to present a nuanced way to judge the value of a university: its ability to provide students with international professional connections.
“This is something that all students are paying attention to at the front-end of any education – what kind of alumni am I going to have access to?”
“If you are focused on a global career, this makes a big difference,” said Ben Waxman, CEO at Intead. “This is something that other students, including domestic students, are paying attention to at the front-end of any education – what kind of alumni am I going to have access to?.”
With the exception of a few surprises, the top ranked institutions resemble leaders of other bench markers.
After Georgetown, Intead’s Universities with Powerful Global Alumni Networks ranked George Washington University second with 6.33% of graduates with global jobs, followed by University of Texas Austin with 6.08% of graduates and Massachusetts Institute of Technology with 5.96%.
Boston University, Columbia University, Stanford University, Cornell University, the University of California- Berkeley and Harvard University complete the top 10.
Waxman said the list was developed to give students another way of comparing universities. “There are all these different criteria that are used for different rankings and everybody hates the rankings, but they also love the rankings,” he said.
“This is just one more data point that says we don’t just talk about international, we actually have the outcomes that matter. And you as a a student should take a look at this- we’re up there in the top.”
Ten schools appeared in the top 20 of both rankings of the largest international student populations and the most global alumni networks: MIT, Boston University, Stanford University, Cornell University, Columbia University, New York University, University of Pennsylvania, The New School, Northeastern University and New Jersey Institute of Technology.
“Those universities…have both diverse student bodies AND powerful alumni networks. That’s the kind of double dose of global that bodes well for an international career,” noted the Intead report.
The study also found a correlation between the university’s website content and how international the alumni network appeared.
The website language of Intead’s top ranked institutions promoted a “globally focused education, learning across disciplines and having connections to other international campuses” the company found, adding these websites had a “future-focused feel” about them “as in: what will this education do for you when you go out into the world?”.
“There seems to be a tie between future focused website language and the fact that they actually produce people who have careers with very serious international titles”
“There seems to be more of a tie between future focused language and the fact that they actually produce people who have these careers with very serious international titles,” noted Waxman. “Maybe those words actually do have power; that they do draw a more ‘I’m going to get out into the world and do things’ kind of person.”
To create the list, Intead looked at the job titles on LinkedIn profiles of graduates from the top 100 universities with the highest number international student enrolments according to IIE’s 2014/2015 Open Doors report in June 2016.
The methodology, however, has its limitations. It relies on self-reported data and also penalises universities whose alumni aren’t on Linked In or who indeed do have global responsibilities that their titles might not reflect.
Top-ranked Georgetown had more than 77,000 alumni with profiles on LinkedIn, 6,400 of which had global job titles. Second place George Washington had 109,400 graduate profiles, while just under 7,000 listed international employment.
Waxman acknowledged the shortfalls of the data but added that “the playing field is level for all institutions in our study.”
“And if you have more graduates on LinkedIn, it means you have a more proactive and maybe technologically savvy group of alumni. That’s a good thing.”
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This is a very interesting article and great news for Georgetown. I did not know that universities and/or colleges were being ranked by their global presence of their alumni. Does this information mean that prospective students may have more opportunities to travel abroad due to their global network?
I think to improve the research it would be beneficial to capture the individuals that are not on Linkedin. Facebook or other sites similar to Linkedin (Bark, Xing, OpportunityNetwork, Jobster, eFactor, Beyond) are good alternatives.
Does this research also include small liberal arts colleges? I have heard that they have a strong international student population represented on their campuses.
Well, as Jerry Seinfeld might say, “Rankings, schmankings…” What do learn here? As big a fan as I am about LinkedIn, what I see is that a small % of alums (of only those who elect to have profiles!) have so-called “serious” international “titles” (however one defines these). It tells us nothing about the linkage between their undergrad major, or the structure of the curriculum, and their international role. Nor do we know how long each alum has been out of college and how long it took to gain their “title.”
From a career development standpoint, this clever ranking and data mining is, I thnk, fairly meaningless. But, it may be another way for students to falsely judge the ROI of attending these “top” institutions.