UP rated in top four of SA universities in 2020 QS Graduate Employability Survey

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Pic: UP

The University of Pretoria (UP) has been ranked among the top four universities in South Africa in terms of graduate employability, according to the 2020 QS Graduate Employability Survey that was released on Thursday (September 19). UP also improved its global ranking significantly and is now ranked within the 251-300 band, compared to the 301-500 band in the previous period.

The QS Graduate Employability Rankings compare the employability outcomes of higher education institutions across the world each year by assessing how reputed the institutions are among employers, whether the institutions nurture high achievers, how connected the institutions are to companies and how attractive their recent graduates are to employers.

This year the study surveyed 758 institutions across the world, recording a 15% increase in the participating institutions as opposed to last year. Information was sourced from the responses of 45 000 employers and 40 800 degrees of over 29 000 high achievers. It considered more than 150 000 employers’ connections with graduates and evaluated nearly 320 000 work placement partnerships for the 2020 edition of the survey.

The five categories used to rank the institutions were: employer reputation, alumni outcomes, partnerships with employers per faculty, employer-student connections and graduate employment rate. UP scored highest in the alumni outcomes category with a score of 62.3 out of 100. The category measures the impact of the graduates from each institution.

“Here, QS has sourced graduate alma maters from over 150 high-achievers lists, each measuring desirable outcomes in a particular walk of life. In total, QS has analyzed more than 40 000 of the world’s most innovative, creative, wealthy, entrepreneurial, and/or philanthropic individuals to establish which universities are producing world-changing graduates,” according to the report.

A higher weighting was applied to individuals featured on lists focused on younger profiles. Undergraduate degrees also had a higher weighting as opposed to postgraduate degrees as, according to QS, the early stages of the higher education learning process leave a deeper mark in terms of employability.

Internal research conducted by UP proved to be in agreement with the QS study. The UP Graduate Destination Survey found that 85% of students who completed their first undergraduate degree at UP in 2017 were employed either full-time or part-time within six months after graduation.  The survey also found that 97% of students work for an organization, while only 3% are self-employed. Most of the graduates surveyed in the study and who are employed full time found their degrees to be relevant to their jobs.

The UP Employer Satisfaction Survey, on the other hand, assessed employers’ perceptions of the work readiness and capabilities of UP graduates entering the labor market. This was achieved by measuring employers’ expectations and perceptions of the graduates’ capabilities. UP graduates were rated at 80% for their work readiness capabilities as demonstrated in the workplace.

The study focused on UP graduates who completed their degrees in the past three years.

UP Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tawana Kupe, said with the country’s graduate youth unemployment rate being at just over 30%, it is important that universities prepare graduates adequately for the workplace.

“The country’s youth unemployment rate in the first quarter of 2019 sat at 31%, which should be of concern to institutions of higher learning. This is why at UP we have programs like Ready for Work to equip our graduates with additional skills to get them ready for the workplace. We also offer students entrepreneurship courses during their studies so that they can become employers and job creators.”

Once UP students graduate they have up to two years to do these courses for free, thereafter they are available at Enterprises UP at cost. “The results of the QS Graduate Employability Survey are a signal to us that we are moving in the right direction,” Prof Kupe said.