Struggling to choose a course because you’re taking University brand into account?

I hear stories where students have turned down scholarships at Universities like Macquarie, UTS and Western Sydney just because they really want to go somewhere like Sydney University or UNSW!

Basically, these students have turned down a lot of money and a massive opportunity all because they want to go somewhere with a better overall ranking!

So, does University brand actually matter at all?

In this video, I’m going to share with you 4 principles to help you decide whether it truly matters what University you go to! 

Principle #1: Employers Come First
Principle #2: What Fish do You Want to be?
Principle #3: Overseas Employment
Principle #4: Do You Want to be an Academic?

Principle #1: Employers Come First

The first thing to take into account when choosing a University is that your friends’ opinions don’t matter.

Ultimately, you’re going to University because you want to get a job, right?

This mean it’s not about what University brand your friends think is cool or prestigious. In the end, all that really matters is the opinion of employers.

Employers are going to have very different opinions about Universities compared to what you or your friends might believe.

But how much will your brand of University actually affect your employment?

The Research

The Grattan Institute recently completed a study that looked at how University brand affects students lives in terms of employability and salary earnings.

What they found was really, really interesting…

They found that the overall brand of the University you attend doesn’t actually matter.

So then, does the University you choose affect your employment at all?

The Faculty

When it comes to how University brand affects employment, it’s all about the specific faculty, rather than the overall brand of the University!

This is because employers understand that certain universities have expertise in producing really fantastic graduates in certain areas.

A university might have a fantastic overall brand but suck within a particular faculty and discipline.

This means employers won’t want to hire graduates from that University because it doesn’t have a specialisation or expertise in their desired field.

For example, the University of Technology, Sydney produces really good engineering graduates. On the flip side, Macquarie has a really fantastic reputation for producing great psychologists, actuaries, and geologists.

The point being here is that often the broad brand reputation that you relate to a university isn’t actually what employers look for.

What you really need to do is identify each Universities reputation in regards to the degree that you want to study, rather than their overall image.

But how do you do this?

Step #1: Global Rankings

One way that you can identify a Universities reputation within a specific faculty is to go and look at its global ranking.

You may not know this, but these ranking actually go down all the way to a faculty level!

This means that you can compare a Universities performance within a specific faculty to other establishments all across Australia and the globe!

This will help you get a better sense of which University has strengths in your area of choice!

Step #2: Speak to Employers

Perhaps the most important step is to go and see if you can and speak to some employers within your desired field.

You should ask them EXACTLY what you need to know.

Ask them: “is there a university that you tend to prefer due to the type of graduates that it produces”.

I think what you’ll find is that some of the bigger universities aren’t going to necessarily be the best choice for certain degrees!

While the bigger Universities may be better from a global brand point of view, there could be other establishments that are just as appropriate for the degree that you want to study.

Principle #2: What Fish do You Want to Be

So do you want to be a small fish in a big pond or big fish in a small pond?

One of the challenges with going to one of the bigger universities is that you’re a small fish in a big pond, you’re one of many students.

This means that you might not get as many opportunities as you would if you went to a smaller University.

You lose the benefits of being a big fish in a small pond!

But, what exactly are these benefits?

Benefit #1

First of all, going to a ‘smaller’ University can allow you to build better and more interpersonal relationships with the academics that study and work there.

This can lead to greater long term opportunities in the job market and can be of great benefit if you want to go on to a postgraduate study or PhD.

Benefit #2

Secondly, being a big fish in a small pond can give you better access to leadership opportunities.

It’s a lot easier to stand out among the crowd at these smaller Universities. You also get a lot more of an opportunity to actually develop, distinguish and differentiate yourself.

This is where it can be really beneficial and strategic to go to a University that isn’t necessarily the Ivy League of Australia.

You can potentially receive far greater support and access to some really awesome opportunities at a much smaller University!

Principle #3: Overseas Employment

So what if you want to work overseas?

You may be thinking:

“To give myself the best chance of getting that job, I want to have the most recognisable University brand on my resume.”

This sort of makes practical sense, right?

It’s why most people who want to work overseas choose UNSW, USYD or Melbourne University. It’s because these Universities have a good global brand due to being ranked the highest in Australia.

But is this actually going to get you a job when you go to work overseas?

In some cases, it might be you apply directly to a company, they look at your CV and they give you preference due to the recognisable nature of your University brand.

Honestly though, what’s going to make the biggest difference is your previous work experience.

I have plenty of friends who have worked overseas. In almost all cases, they worked for a multinational company in Australia, transferred to their overseas offices then moved on to other employment opportunities.

The point here is that having a globally recognised University brand on your resume does help to an extent if you want to work globally.

Despite this, what’s going to make the biggest difference in the long term is the work experience you’ve completed and the global reputation of the companies you’ve worked for!

Principle #4: Do You Want to be an Academic?

The fourth principle to think about when considering if University brand matters for you is the question of whether or not you want to go into research.

You might be thinking: “I want to be an academic, I want to do postgraduate study, I want to get my PhD, and then I want to be a full time researcher.”

If this is the case, then yes, the higher ranked your University is globally, the better it is for you.

This is because a lot of your work as a researcher will take you overseas!

A key part of being an academic is working at different universities around the world! This means having a stronger global University brand can definitely help here.

However, once again, academics also know which Universities have a better reputation for certain things.

Even though your Uni might have a great brand overall, it doesn’t mean that they’re well known within a particular field.

Making sure that your chosen University has a great reputation for your degree of choice is really important if you want to go into academic research. It’s even more important than the Universities global reputation!

In an ideal world, you’d have the best of both worlds. However, this isn’t always possible. It’s important to prioritise your field of choice over anything else!

It’s All About Degree

So overall, you shouldn’t be thinking about a Universities overall brand when pursuing your academic future.

You should be thinking about which Universities have a great reputation for your degree of choice!

Ultimately, this is going to vary a lot.

A University might have a poor overall brand but be great in a particular area, and vice versa.

This shows that you need to do your research really critically.

Don’t write off a University because your friends raise an eyebrow when you mention it. You need to think more about the long term, and more specifically, you need to think about your potential employers!

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