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  • BU advances in rankings of schools graduating most desirable employees
  • Number 6 internationally, 5 nationally
  • One of 3 Boston-area schools in top 10—might Amazon notice?

Boston University graduates, coveted for years by employers around the world, have become even more desirable.

Times Higher Education (THE) says the employability of BU alumni ranks 6th internationally and 5th in the United States, up from 11th internationally and 7th nationally in 2016. In breaking the top 10 globally, the University joins Harvard (2nd), Columbia (3rd), MIT (4th), Stanford (7th), Yale (10th), and the list-topping California Institute of Technology.

Robert A. Brown, president of BU, says the University’s new status is not an accident of fate. “The University has invested years of effort and millions of dollars identifying and embedding in our programs the critical skills needed to build the businesses of the future,” Brown says. “A deliberate focus on interdisciplinary research and education for our students, and the recruitment of the most ambitious students and promising faculty from around the world, have built a University that delivers, in turn, the most promising employees for companies around the world.”

He suggests that the inclusion of three local schools—BU, Harvard, and MIT—in the top 10 list could encourage Amazon to look more closely at Boston as the company considers locations for its planned second headquarters.

Artists rendering of City of Boston for the Amazon HQ Bid

Boston submitted this artist’s rendition of what an Amazon headquarters at the defunct Suffolk Downs racetrack might look like. Image courtesy of the city of Boston

Brown says the skill sets that BU graduates gain from their rigorous academic experience line up nicely with the criteria employers cited to THE when choosing universities from which to recruit. Those include professional competency, communications skills, critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, social and cultural awareness, and leadership. Other much-cited employer requirements of the graduates were “expertise in one field of competence” and “digital competency,” as well as the “quality of research facilities” of the university.

A potential employee’s alma mater matters with companies seeking reliable measures of quality, says THE data editor Simon Baker.

BU was one of 35 US universities cracking the global list, which includes 150 universities from 33 nations.

THE compiles its list with a two-step process designed by the French consulting firm Emerging. First, it surveys management-level recruiters in various countries. Each respondent is given a list of universities locally, is invited to add additional ones, and is then asked to rank up to 15 schools in order of the employability of their graduates. (Recruiters who’ve conducted global talent searches are also asked to select the best universities worldwide.)

The second step involves a survey of 3,000-plus directors of international companies, who are asked to winnow the first list down to 10 local and global schools or add universities of their own choosing. Both steps include respondents from 20 nations, including Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Times Higher Education chart showing the most important traits businesses seek in choosing universities whose graduates they’d like to employ.

The chart above shows the most important traits businesses seek in choosing universities whose graduates they’d like to employ. Chart courtesy of Times Higher Education, the Global University Employability Ranking 2017

“There is a clear view worldwide that US universities are leading the way in addressing the digital skills revolution,” THE’s editors write in their report on the rankings.

Jean Morrison, University provost, says she is gratified that BU continues to make progress in the THE global ranking. “We are extremely pleased to see confirmation of the strengths of our graduates as rising professionals,” she says. “It is a tribute to the work ethic and adaptability of these talented students and to the acuity of our faculty in helping them develop skills that are relevant to the evolving needs of the 21st-century marketplace.”

The employability rankings follow BU’s step-up this fall in the closely watched US News & World Report rankings, which graded BU 37th among top US universities. That was BU’s best showing in those ratings and two notches above last year’s ranking.