How Do Students Use Rankings?

Laura Bridgestock

Updated August 28, 2022 Updated August 28

University rankings have become a staple part of the research and decision-making process for millions of prospective students worldwide. But what motivates students to consult the ranking tables, and when do they do so? What do students believe rankings really mean, and what types of university comparison do they value most?

As outlined in the video above, earlier this year we launched a project to investigate how, why and when prospective students consult university rankings. You can read about our initial findings here, or leave a comment below if you’d like to find out more about the project.

This article was originally published in September 2015 . It was last updated in August 2022

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The former editor of, Laura oversaw the site's editorial content and student forums. She also edited the QS Top Grad School Guide and contributed to market research reports, including 'How Do Students Use Rankings?'