According to edtech platform StuDocu, which compiled the StuDocu World University Ranking, the list is “a first of its kind”, placing students’ experiences and evaluation of their universities at the forefront of the rankings metric.

“It has always bothered me that university rankings never take into account students’ opinions”

Some 45,000 students at 563 universities across Europe identified Glasgow Caledonian University as the top institution, with fellow Scottish institution University of St Andrews and Germany’s Europäische Fernhochschule Hamburg as second and third place, respectively.

In Latin America, by surveying 30,000 students StuDocu found that Ecuador’s Universidad de Especialidades del Espíritu Santo was placed first, with Colombia’s Unidades Tecnológicas de Santander second and Mexico’s Universidad Politécnica de Querétaro in third for student experiences.

In North America, the top 15 institutions were all in the US, bar Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Canada which was ranked 13th for the region.

California State University Fullerton, Clemson University and Southern New Hampshire University were placed first, second and third, respectively.

Around 5,000 respondents in Oceania identified Australia’s University of New England, University of Canberra and Federation University Australia as the region’s top universities for real-world student experiences.

Co-Founder and CEO of StuDocu, Marnix Broer, said the ranking will continue to place student opinion at its core, as first iteration of the ranking was launched.

“It has always bothered me that university rankings never take into account students’ opinions when that’s exactly what it’s all about,” he said.

“That’s why I’m very happy that from now on, we are able to provide a ranking that represents the opinion of the students.”

While assessing the quality of a university on the knowledge that it has and obtains is important, facilities such as classrooms, internet, libraries, teaching methods and sports facilities “should not be underestimated in its contribution to a good education for the students”, he added.

The new ranking is based on 15 categories including dating scene, sports culture, food available on campus.

Each of the 1,500 universities was ranked by 60 current or former students on average, who were asked to rank the universities that they attended on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest.

Other rankings focusing on metrics such as employer reputation, research citations per faculty member, research and awards of staff and alumni, fail to pay due attention to student experiences and opinions, StuDocu suggested.

The ranking “speaks directly to the education and experience that students can expect to receive in exchange for their tuition fees”, it said.

Other methods are used to identify student satisfaction, such as the Whatuni Student Choice Awards in the UK where Aberystwyth University was selected as the winner for the international category in 2020, or Studyportals Global Student Satisfaction Awards.