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In the university ranking scene, there is no scarcity of charts. However, an innovative approach - so far never taken into account - is to consider alumni careers as a ranking factor. This is exactly what LinkedIn came up with. Based on the wide database of the popular professional social network, tracking education paths and professional careers of its 300 million members, LinkedIn has been able to create a system that ranks universities on the basis of employment trends. This is practically translated into charts of the 25 top universities that give to their alumni the most chances to enter into that specific career path.
Charts are different according to the career path that someone wants to undertake but the choice offered is only among 8 relatively broad professional areas: accounting professionals, designers, finance professionals, investment bankers, marketers, media professionals, software developers and software developers at start-ups. In spite of only a relatively small number of colleges having been considered, there are some surprises in the rankings, with lesser-known institutions placing well. For example, the University of Leeds results as the best education choice for media professionals while Oxford came second, and Cambridge only seventh. Also, other unexpected institutions are Fairfield University and Bentley University among the top 25 universities for accounting.
Two additional tools complementing the rankings have been launched more or less simultaneously by LinkedIn. One is the ‘University Finder’, a search engine for colleges based on a student’s interest in a possible career. Users can type the field in which they would like to study, which employer they might want to work for and where they might want to live and then LinkedIn will list what are the most popular universities for these settings, based on actual users who currently work or have worked for such employers in that specific city. The second tool is a social networking application for prospective students to chat with each other and with current students about colleges. All of the three instruments - the rankings, the search engine and the application - aim at guiding potential students in their education choices and they go very much in the direction of creating a consumer-approach to universities based on their employability.