Why the Ranking of The University is Not Important

Updated on 21/05/2024 in
Why University Ranking is Not Important

Choosing a university is a big step for any student and their family. Pursuing higher education takes dedication and time. It is vital for many families to know that the university you will attend as a medical student will be really good.

After all, your future is at stake.

This is why many people look at the rankings of the universities.

Unfortunately, the truth is that university rankings are biased towards universities who have big budgets for marketing schemes, research and PR (public relationships). The funding that the universities get usually comes from the governments. And these rankings do not include some of the most important factors that will shape you as a person. I am talking about the factors like:

  • What you’ll actually learn, beyond the grades;
  • The university’s diversity;
  • Different activities offered (sports, competitions etc.);
  • Whether you’d love the city, you study at;
  • What is the culture of the country and the city you are going to live in;
  • The qualities of the teachers;
  • Your enjoyment of the process.

These are some significant factors that no statistic can measure. In the end, they are things that shape your youth and your experiences while studying medicine.

Additionally, several studies have concluded about the importance of personal ability, motivation, ambition, and passion. The degree might indeed provide a head-start in some cases, but the individual characteristics of the student are what’s crucial about success.

Why do rankings exist 

The UK and the US are famous for having top-notch universities. For most families, higher education for their children is essential. However, it is also costly. Which is why “it’d better be a good university”. This is why rankings exist. To prove and justify that one university is somehow better than others, based on some specific, biased factors. It’s no more than a marketing scheme.

People want to be part of the elite educational system, for which they pay a lot. Because of this, there is a myth that, for example, education in the Eastern part of Europe is inferior to UK education.

In reality, many universities from Eastern Europe and the UK teach the same materials, especially when it comes to medicine.

They buy the same machines and tools, from the same sources. And no matter where you go, we all study the same human bodies.

The inconsistency of rankings

Time Higher Education (THE) University Impact Ranking, QS World University Ranking and Center for World University Ranking (CWUR) are the most famous university ranking websites. But their rankings vary. Sometimes they vary so much, that one university might be in entirely different echelons.

For example,

London School of Economics and Political Science: globally ranks 27th according to THE, 49 according to QS and #274 according to CWUR!

What’s the difference between 27th and 274th places? 247 places. Isn’t that a lot? And it’s the same university, with the same quality of teaching.

Why the US and UK have the top-ranking universities (Government funding for research, PR, Marketing.)

With the current criteria, marketing budget plays an enormous role in the rankings. It’s all about how much the school can afford to spend on PR – getting featured on magazines, television, websites and so on. 

It’s almost like a popularity contest, which the smaller universities in Europe cannot afford to take part in, but this doesn’t at all relate to the quality of education.

For example, some of the factors are:

  • Funding offered to students (scholarships and bursaries)

You could expect that for there to be scholarships; the university has to have a huge budget. Budget, however, doesn’t define the quality of education.

  • Research citations and papers published

This is by far the most important criterion according to the agencies creating the rankings. However, a lot of specialists don’t agree with this. 

We don’t agree with this either because the student has gone to study abroad for this exact reason – to study and become an educated, professional medical doctor. There’s going to be plenty of time for research after graduation.

What’s more, conducting research is extremely expensive, so this criterion is also linked to the budget of the university. The British and US universities receive immense financial support, and that’s why they can afford to spend the money on it, and therefore, they rule the top of the tables. 

On the other hand, the fact that the university conducts researches doesn’t mean that the students will take part in it.

  • Academic reputation

The academic reputation is based on how well-known the university is along with its age.

  • The student to faculty staff ratio

This is a criterion where smaller European medical schools truly shine. This is the case since there are usually not more than 1,000 or 2,000 students, but the number of teachers is almost the same as with a huge university with all sorts of study programmes.

  • Employer reputation

Employer reputations are again linked to PR practices. If the medical school doesn’t invest money and promote them, teachers, they won’t rank. Smaller European medical schools prefer to invest in the quality of education.

  • Award winners

Ranking based on award winners is good but bear in mind that a university with 10,000 students will have a higher chance of having award-winning students than one with 1,000 students.

I hope I’ve answered all of your questions about the rankings of universities and why they’re irrelevant and not a direct representation of teaching quality.

What do the rankings miss?

Rankings focus mainly on things like academic success, GPA scores, papers published, employment rate, average salary after graduation, opinions of alumni, staff and field experts, etc.

However, because people ask for other people’s subjective opinions, it is only natural that some would favour a “prestigious” university, only because of the fame that comes with it.

This makes it so that other universities and programmes that do not have a famous name usually don’t even appear on the ranking lists, even if their methods might be better among many other things.

Additionally, rankings don’t focus on the city you will be living in, how passionate your teachers will be (which is extremely important), the taste of the local food, people you will meet, etc.

Quite often, you will meet extremely talented and passionate lecturers in small universities.

If you like studying medicine - it is your passion, you will definitely connect with the lecturers! You share this great passion, and they will give you a lot of their experience.

It is also essential to know where exactly you are going to live. How many other international students will be at your university.

How hard will it be to learn the native language of the country you will study in?

What is the country’s culture?

How beautiful are the cities?

There are just so many more things that the university rankings miss. And they may misguide you! Studying medicine or dentistry abroad is truly magnificent.

Benefits of studying medicine in Europe that the rankings don’t cover

There is a reason why Europe is called the cradle of civilisation.

Any country, any city in Europe has a rich culture with its own beauties.

Europe has been home to some of the oldest medical universities in the world like the University of Bologna in Italy, founded in 1088, or the Jagiellonian University Medical College in Poland founded in 1361. Their programmes withstood the test of time, and no little detail has been overlooked.

There are also many opportunities available for every student! If you have a Shingen visa, you can freely travel across various countries. The tuition fees are all very affordable, especially in the Eastern part of Europe.

Isn’t this how you would like to spend your youth as a student? To study in great med schools while having the opportunities to experience many other languages, cultures, and more.

If I haven’t convinced you yet that Europe is the best place to study medicine, read our article “21 Thrilling Reasons to Study Medicine in Europe in 2024”.

The placebo effect of the top-ranking universities.

Studying medicine, you will often hear the term “Placebo effect”.

The placebo effect is an interesting phenomenon when something fake; for example, a dummy pill can cause the effects of a real pill. There are many clinical records when a fake treatment has had a real therapeutic result. 

I believe that because people perceive the treatments as real, they convince themselves that they will get better. Their subconscious minds start acting to improve their states because they still believe that they have the assistance of the treatment-pills. In reality, your body will help itself.

That’s how I understand it and scientists are still researching this effect.

I believe the same effect is applied when you go to a “top-ranking” university.

Without a doubt, if you graduate from a top-ranking medical university, you will be able to say proudly “I finished in one of the best universities in the world”. 

Having this supporting your resume, you will be more likely to find a job once you graduate in some respected company.

But does it really have anything to do that you’ve graduated from a top university? In my personal experience, it’s all about your self-esteem and how you position yourself.

The way you view yourself might be influenced by the perceived prestige of your school.

This effect gradually disappears for older people, meaning the university you will go to will have less and less effect the further you get into your career.


University rankings will not disappear anytime soon. This is why we must understand their limitations and biases.

Many things aren’t included in the medical school rankings that could ultimately determine your experiences while studying medicine abroad in Europe.

If you want to participate in a graduate programme in medicine or dentistry, you will study for 4 years or less. But the majority of the students will spend 6-5 years. This is a big-time investment, so you must ensure that you will spend these years well.

Here’s a list of excellent medical universities in Europe, where you will have the best time of your lives!

Additionally, you can always book a consultation with us, and we will help you make a good decision regarding your future. It’s free.

Article written by Dr Sam El Mais
Dr Sam El Mais, MD, MSc, BSc, graduated from a renowned medical school in Romania in 2019. He uses his professional knowledge and personal experience to guide students on crucial aspects such as university selection, admissions processes, and cultural adjustments.
Get FREE Advice from Expert Student Advisors Now:
Learn about your options abroad INSTANTLY
Fast-Track Your Admission with Personalised, Strategic Advice
10+ years of experience in student consulting
Medlink Students specialises in guaranteeing students' admission into top medical universities in Europe. Trusted by 1000s of students every year, we provide support from your initial enquiry until graduation, and beyond. Contact us now to learn how we can help YOU.
Share this article with 1 click:  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *