Understanding University Rankings – humph!

So, when I decided to write an informative blog on university rankings to enable you the reader to make an informed decision, I did not realise what I was getting myself into. And after days of research and multiple migraines, I have decided that if I just go ahead and dump all the information here, you are just going to lose interest, get confused and finally just go away and never come back. 

Utility of Ranking Systems

To begin with, should we even look at rankings to base our decisions on? After all UNESCO did observe that rankings “do more harm than good” and you will find some of the reasoning for this as you read further. On the flip side they also observed that rankings have also become a measure of quality and have created an atmosphere of competition between universities. You can find more information on this UNESCO finding in the UNESCO Publishing – Rankings and Accountability in Higher Education: Uses and Misuses.

Like most things in life, rankings also have their good bits and their bad bits. To begin with, there is no almighty, all encompassing ranking system out there, because that is just not possible. There are just so many parameters that educational institutions can be ranked on, any ranking agency will just get overwhelmed with data and quite possibility put out a very confused and confusing report. There was even a ranking in the United States that ranked universities on squirrels (yes, the cute little rodent).

So, most agencies will pick and choose a few areas they feel are important and grade the university. This is where things start to look a little murky.

The Perspective

I remember when I was considering universities to apply for my MBA, I just opened a few of the top selling magazines and educational journals, looked at the top universities, made a list of universities that featured in multiple magazines/journals and applied to them. It did not ever occur to me to look into the parameters that the universities were being evaluated on and if they were even relevant to me.

There are many ways to reach your destination. The choice is yours!

So, make your own list, make a list of parameters you feel are important, may be campus job placements, alumni engagement, faculty, student to teacher ratio, campus, etc., and focus on rankings that evaluate on parameters that come closest to your list. Another point of view is to forget about the university rankings and look at subject rankings (say, Law). A particular university might not be ranked too high, but for the subject you are interested in, the university might be ranked 1st in the North West and 8th in the UK.

As we are looking at rankings that come closest to our list of parameters (and here comes the murky bit) there is usually no transparency. Most ranking agencies will not share their algorithm (and why should they, they have worked hard on it and have spent a lot of money on it) or for that matter, even parameters that have gone into giving a particular rank to a parameter. Why did university A get 8 points for Student Engagement, but university B get only 3 points? At the same time, last year university A was on 3 points, what has changed? So, look at rankings that are a little more transparent, they don’t have to open up their algorithms to you, but a little transparency will help you make an informed decision.

The Rich get Richer

There are also a number of ranking agencies, especially the smaller ones, that fall into the trap of ranking universities on their reputations. While I personally believe there is nothing wrong with this – to a very limited extent – after all, the university probably worked hard on developing this reputation and in all likelihood deserves it, basing a ranking system primarily on reputation will continuously reward only a handful of universities. For example, a reputation based ranking system will always rank universities like Oxford and Cambridge at the top while ignoring universities that are working towards developing their reputation by offering better programmes, teaching methodologies or more advanced and modern study environments.

Universities have also learnt to play the ranking game. Most universities have dedicated teams that engage ranking agencies, understand how their ranking system works and learn to either improve their offering and thereby improve their ranking or to manipulate the system and improve. Look at the older rankings of the university and mark their progression through the ranks, seek out explanations as to why a university has improved in a certain parameter but not in others. Try to seek out transparency on the change in rankings. 

Look at rankings that are updated on a regular basis, preferably on at least an annual basis. A university on top today may be at the bottom tomorrow.

Further Research

Finally, let me leave you with the link to the Wikipedia page (even though using Wikipedia in academic writing would get me wrist slapped by Dr Negoescu!) on the college and university rankings, where you will find information on a number of global and regional ranking agencies that should provide you with information you might find useful or you might just find confusing. This is the way the cookie crumbles, sorry! I wish you the best in your hunt for that perfect university, there is one for everyone.

It is worth it at the end

Since you are reading this blog, you probably already know that we at Robert Kennedy College offer more than 30 Master’s degree programmes in partnerships with 3 UK universities and we have been helping more than 14,000 students from almost every country in the world develop their skill sets, improve their CVs and advance their careers – you are in good hands should you consider taking the plunge. Have a look at our programme catalogue and get in touch with our Admissions’ team if you have any questions about the programme most suitable for your background.

Join us in celebrating Robert Kennedy College and York St John 2019 graduates!

Sandra, Ilse, Doris, Asha, Melanie, Lilian, Matthew, Alaine, Marlini, Wilfried, Boguslaw, Ebru, Graham, Dag, Karen, Julie, Tony, Jialei and Sandra – these are the names of the 2019 RKC/YSJ MA in Leading Innovation and Change graduates who made it to York, to what I *know* was a great delight! We know quite a few of you could not make it physically to graduation this year – your achievement is no less impressive though – well done!

Graduation 2019 – group 1 photo
Graduation 2019 – group 2 photo

Wednesday the 20th of November 2019 was the day about 20 of our own MALIC students experienced the graduation of a lifetime, in one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in Europe – the York Minster. For all of you reading this at home and thinking that sounds awesome – know that it is, and I hope we’ll be able to hear from a few of them who were there to confirm this is not just my impression!

Graduation: I couldn’t recommend it more

By the time graduation comes around, you will have attended the residency either in Zürich or York, so you know (or discover) that travel is not easy, nor cheap, but despite all that, I wholeheartedly recommend attending Graduation too. I haven’t heard a single whisper in the past 7 years of someone being disappointed with the graduation.

Here’s a short video of our graduates, so you can judge for yourself the emotions and excitement of the moment. See if you can count how many of them forget about the photo opportunity with the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, in what was his last awards ceremony as York St John’s Chancellor. Next year’s graduates will be shaking hands with Reeta Chakrabarti.

A special shout out to Sandra Ahlers for the Dissertation prize, and to Ilse Baxter for the overall programme prize! Woohooo – amazing performance ladies – well done!

Finally, a huge CONGRATS! to all graduates alike, whether they’ve been able to walk the stage in York or had to stay at home (much like I did this year). Keep us in the loop with your professional exploits post graduation and help make this world a better place. Well done you all!

P.S. If you are wondering about the MA Leading Innovation and Change, know that it has smoothly transitioned into the MBA Leading Innovation and Change and next year we are likely to have the first batch of MBAs graduating in the Minster – are you one of them, or can you become one? Let us know in the comments!

The University of Cumbria Law ranks 1st in the North West and 8th in the UK!

Yes, you read that right! The Guardian League tables for 2020 have our partner the University of Cumbria Law’s programmes right at the top for the North West region, and 8th in the UK, a few places away from Cambridge, Oxford, and Durham.

England is divided into 9 official regions. North-West England, one of those official regions, consists of the five counties of Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside. The North West is known as the heartland of the Industrial Revolution and is home to some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes. The third most populated region in the UK, the North-West is also known for its vibrant and diverse culture. It is also the home to our partner, the University of Cumbria, operating from campuses spread across Cumbria and North Lancashire. 

So, what does it mean to be #1? There are 12 institutions (with University status) in the North West England that offer programmes in Law. The Guardian League Tables recently ranked the University of Cumbria as #1 for Law, ahead of the University of Liverpool and the University of Manchester. Cumbria also bags the  #8 position overall in law, competing against a total of 101 institutions nationwide. 

The Guardian League Table ranks the Universities on the basis of several factors that are important to students while making their choices for where to study. These include factors such as how much students benefit from the teaching and how much they like the subject and the University. The University of Cumbria ranked high on these parameters as well with 97% of students satisfied with their course and 95% satisfied with the teaching at the University. 

For our part, we’re making it possible for students from all over the world to join Cumbria’s LL.M International Business Law – with online delivery and a one-week residency in the lake district in Cumbria’s Ambleside campus. 

See the full The Guardian League Tables for 2020.

Download the catalogue for more information about the Online Masters of Law programmes offered by the University of Cumbria and RKC. 

Overcoming challenges of studying online

Most people decide to do an online programme because of the convenience and advantages online programmes offer. However, every coin has two faces and while the benefits of doing an online programme are many there are also a few challenges that students studying online will have to overcome in order to complete the programme with flying colours.

Here are some of the challenges our students face in online learning – holding that a better understanding of them will help you in your own ventures in online learning. 

Time management: Time management is one of the biggest challenges that a student faces. Being able to manage one’s personal and professional life while at the same time getting the space and time to complete all the requirements of the programme – assignments, readings, etc. – is a problem faced by most students. If you don’t manage time well – putting off assignments until the last minute, not completing the required readings, being unable to participate in classroom sessions – you will inevitably fall behind and struggle to complete the course. Balancing work-life-study is the key to successfully completing any programme. We have an entire post on how to overcome this challenge – have a read, but know that with a little discipline this is an easily surmountable challenge – be it for online studies, or your life in general, so well worth improving your time management skills.

Learning Methodology: Until choosing to do an online programme, almost all of us would have received our education in a physical classroom, having attended schools and colleges for almost two decades in our formative years. As a result, most of us would have developed skills and methodologies to best meet the challenges of an in-classroom learning environment. As a result, for some of us online education might come as a culture shock and might take some getting used to, while for others this adjustment might come quickly and naturally. This is another skill that we just have to accept we need to develop – and make the most out of the flexibility afforded by the online interaction.

Distractions at Home: In my personal opinion, for most professionals, the benefits of studying from home far out-number those of studying full time in an on-campus programme. For most of our students this would not even be possible, since they are working professionals. However, at home there are a lot of distractions that can derail your study plans as well. The best advice we can offer on this challenge (verified by many of our students) is to set aside dedicated time slots for your studies and to protect those at all costs. Do not let anyone  distract you during this time (which is why getting your family on board before starting is crucial). Set up a dedicated study space at your home, which will act like your own personal classroom, this will help keep distractions out and your focus in.  

Dependence on Technology: While it is true that technology has changed the face of education, online education is entirely dependent on technology. You will need to ensure that you have a reliable and fast internet connection, laptop/ home computer or other mobile devices that will help you create and deliver assignments and stay connected with the college. But once you are connected, technology can also help ensuring all your work is backed up and you never have to blame the dog for the missing assignment!   

Doing it Alone: Human beings are social animals. One of the biggest benefits in doing an on-campus programme is the social interaction you can have with your peers, whether it is building long lasting relationships, group studies or just hanging out to relieve stress. 

In our programmes we use online forums, live classroom sessions and residential week-long workshops to try to mitigate the impact of the missing face to face social interaction. The residencies are indeed some of the most appreciated parts of the programme, attesting to their value (but also to the fact that face-to-face interaction is indeed a challenge). 

Students of Robert Kennedy College attending the week-long residency at the University of Cumbria campus

We have more than 30 Master’s degree programmes and we have been helping more than 14,000 students from almost every county of the world develop their skill sets, improve their CVs and advance their careers – you are in good hands should you consider taking the plunge. Have a look at our programme catalogue and get in touch with our Admissions’ team if you have any questions about the programme most suitable for your background.

Things to consider before considering a career change

Let’s admit it! Many of us are not pursuing careers that we dreamt of. Some of us may never have dreamt of a career and ended up doing what was available or what we see others doing. I feel happy (and jealous) of people who figured out early in their lives their career paths. For a variety of reasons, we all have thought of changing careers at some point in life; including those who were once happy with their jobs.

You are not alone if you are considering a career change. It has been an increasingly popular trend in employment history. It is becoming more likely that people will go through at least one career change in their lifetime. 

Here are some stats..  BLS, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, released results from the National Longitudinal Survey in August 2019 about the number of jobs, labor market experience and earnings growth of a sample of Americans tracked over 40 years. According to the survey, individuals held an average of 12.3 jobs from ages 18 to 52, with nearly half of these jobs held before age 25. In this news release, a job is defined as an uninterrupted period of work with a particular employer. On average, men held 12.5 jobs and women held 12.1 jobs from ages 18 to 52. Men held 5.9 jobs from ages 18 to 24, compared with 1.9 jobs from ages 45 to 52. The reduction in the average number of jobs held in successive age groups was similar for women. 

Though it’s not uncommon, a career change should be thought through. Here are a few things you should consider before a career change:

Self-Introspection 

It is critical to self analyze and find out why are you looking for a career change. What is the reason for your discontentment: is it the work or the work environment and co-workers? Are you financially insecure? (Experts advise not to base any decision solely on the basis of money). Are you stuck in the same position doing monotonous work for years, with limited scope for change if any? Are you losing the motivation? Have your priorities changed? Do you yearn for work-life balance? Are you not passionate about the job anymore? Do you simply want to search for a new ‘meaning’ to your life?

Being emotionally and financially strong

If you are still early on in your career, there may be fewer things to worry about before switching careers. However, if it is a mid-life or mature career change, make sure you sort the emotional and financial ties.

Get support

Communicate your thoughts and vision to your family, friends and colleagues. While some of them may discourage you and urge you to take sane decisions, it is important that you have a cushion of support around you at a time you would need it most.

Take small steps 

Do not quit your current job until you find a new one, even if you feel being on the fence and frustrated. Start intensive research in the industry you envision yourself to be in and look for the skills required for those jobs. Make sure to update and personalize your resume for different jobs you may apply to. Explore free resources online for resume and skill development. Now is the ideal time to invest in yourself.

Build and Dive into your Network

Networking is the key to job search. While making conversation and networking may seem out of your comfort zone, you will be amazed to find how valuable a resource people are. Reach out to your contacts or build a network on social media for informational interviews that will not only help you understand the jobs you are interested in but if you are impressive enough they may even consider you for any open or potential positions!  Consider volunteering for different organizations or events to build your network.

Consider further education

While some of your skills from the previous job are transferable, you may have to consider getting another degree. Some jobs may require you to have a certain professional qualification and association, or a Master’s degree. While in a job and considering a career change, you may not want an education debt and going back to school full time. Online education is the solution that will not only fit your busy schedule but also not burn a hole in your pocket. Robert Kennedy College offers Online Masters programmes in exclusive partnership with the University of Cumbria, University of Salford and York St John University. Download the catalogue to know more about the programmes.

I am sure the points above give some food for thought and changing careers does not seem to be as intimidating. If you approach the change radically, it looks more like an achievable dream. We would love to hear from you how you coped with career change. Share your story and advice in the comments below. 

Points to consider before starting your career in Marketing

Philip Kotler defines marketing as “Satisfying needs and wants through an exchange process”. The Chartered Institute of Marketing defines marketing as “the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably”.

Philip Kotler

This is what you get when you Google for the definition of marketing. While these definitions leave me personally a little confused and strangely unsatisfied, I cannot argue with them as

  1. I understand they are academic definitions.
  2. One definition is by one of the recognised Gods of marketing and the other by an organisation that has the words Institute, Chartered and Marketing in its name. 

But these definitions really do not help you understand how big the field of marketing is, what one has to do to get into this field or whether this is even the right career for you.

The following are a few steps to follow that can help you make an informed decision.

  1. Marketing is a broad field with specialisations such as social media, SEO specialist, media manager, copywriter, just to name a few, and marketing being such a dynamic field this list is constantly evolving. 
  2. Due to the number of specialisations available in the marketing field, it is not possible for one person to have the adequate knowledge to perform all the jobs with any semblance of competence. Hence it is important to know which specialisation you wish to build your career in, and a better understanding of the specialisations is important in making an informed decision. Keep in mind, not all specialisations will pay the same, offer the same career growth, require the same qualifications that you currently have or even be able to keep your interest in the job over time.
  3. Once you have identified the specialisation you wish to build your career in, work towards building your knowledge base and competence in this specialisation. There is a lot of information that is available free of cost online, on sites like youtube.com and other e-learning platforms. There are also a lot of e-learning platforms offering paid but high value certifications and programmes that offer more specialised knowledge. 
  4. Marketing is also all about networking and another way to increase your knowledge in the field and help you make an informed decision, that could also be fun, is to attend marketing seminars and networking events. If this is what you want to do then spending time with like-minded people will be fun and will have the added benefit of creating opportunities. 
  5. If you have the time and motivation, may be look at doing an internship or short-term assignments in the specialisation of your interest. There is no substitute to doing to get a feel of the job.
  6. Once you have decided to become a marketeer, it is important to keep updated and motivated and the beauty about marketing, being such a dynamic field, is someone is always doing something interesting and new, and being a marketeer, will definitely be blowing his or her trumpet for all to see. Hence information on this new and innovative marketing methodology can be found online. Keep reading, learning, growing and innovating. 

Robert Kennedy College with 31 Master’s degree programmes (including MarketingMedia LeadershipDigital Business, etc.) and almost 14,000 students from almost every county offers one of the most diverse, accredited and globally recognised online master’s degree programmes in both Business Law and Management through exclusive partnerships with British universities. For more information download our programme catalogue.

York MBA: The Residency

Quite often we get one of these four questions:

What is the purpose of the residency? What happens during the week at the residency? Why should I attend it? And why is it important?

What better way to have the answers to these questions than to hear it from our alumni and faculty themselves!

The MBA programmes are taught mostly online via OnlineCampus (an interactive online learning environment) with intensive class discussion and collaboration, plus a one-week compulsory residency. Depending on your programme, the residency is held at two locations, Robert Kennedy College in Zürich and at the University campus in York, United Kingdom, both organised and taught by University faculty.

Dr. Brendan Paddison, Director of Post Graduate Studies says, “One of the unique aspects of our programmes with Robert Kennedy College is the blended delivery.”

Here’s what student and faculty have to say about the residency.

“The people who take part in these residencies find them very rewarding, both in terms of amount of energy that they generate, the friendships that they give rise to and the insights that people get into the experiences of those who are working in quite different organizations”, says Dr. George Boak, YSJ Senior Lecturer – Leadership and Innovation.

The residency is held several times during the year offering flexibility to fit your busy work schedule. The only pre-requisite is to have completed at least one module before taking residency.

Cristina Rettig, PR Manager – Glass Manufacturing (Germany) 2018 Graduate found the Residency an essential part of the MBA Programme. She adds, “It’s fantastic to have this online system. It gives you freedom, you can plan your own schedule. But I think to really draw people into it, the residency to me is a really essential part. I loved it, I loved the residency, I found it great!”

Follow the link to find out more about the Online Masters programmes: https://york.mba/catalogue

Technology In Education

Technology has changed the way we live our lives, having an impact on almost every aspect of our daily activities. From the outside it might look like the education sectors missed out on the technological revolution and in some ways, this is true, the teacher is still surrounded by students as they educate and impart their knowledge. But in many other ways technology has changed education itself. 

For centuries, only the children of the very rich, noble or higher casts could afford or were permitted the privilege of education. For one, books in the past were very expensive and rare, hence access to them were restricted and protected. Most education centres were centralised and very few, hence most families who wished their children to be educated had to send them far away and with a healthy stipend to pay for the education they were about to receive.

With the advent of quicker modes of transportation, the world took its first step towards becoming a global village. Enabling both teachers and students to travel to the farthest corners of the Earth, spreading and absorbing new and diverse knowledge. However, it is Information Technology and the Internet that has and is continuing to revolutionise the education industry.  

RKC Graduation 2018 @YorkStJohn
RKC Graduation 2018 @YorkStJohn

Today people around the world, who do not have the time to attend or even do not have access to schools can gain a formal education from a globally recognised and respected university. And through the almost constant advancement of telecommunication technology, the online programmes that most colleges offer are at the same level as those which are being offered by traditional on-campus programmes in terms of the quality of education and knowledge delivery.

The internet offers massive amounts of information on almost every subject imaginable through ebooks, audio and podcasts, images and videos. These unprecedented learning opportunities are offered to everyone right at their fingertips and in most cases, at costs lower than ever before. 

One of the traditional advantages of a classroom education was the opportunity to collaborate and network with other students. However, with the advancement in communication technology the barriers that were perceived in online education have also begun to fall away. Students are able to collaborate at levels comparable to those offered in on-campus education using technologies like group video conferencing and chats, emails and cloud technology to collaborate with each other “virtually” live.

With the amount of information and knowledge available online the traditional role of a teacher is also changing from that of an imparter of knowledge to that of a guide, guiding students to the endless sources of information and helping them make sense of it all and in the process learning new things themselves.

Technology has transformed education in many ways, from giving access to multiple sources of information, to helping teachers create new and more interactive study materials, to helping students from all over the world come together and collaborate in projects seamlessly and most importantly, taking education to everyone. 

Robert Kennedy College with 31 Master’s degree programmes and almost 14,000 students from almost every county offers one of the most diverse, accredited and globally recognised online master’s degree programmes in both Business Law and Management through exclusive partnerships with British universities. For more information download our programme catalogue.

University of Salford Graduation 2019

Years of hard work and sacrifice culminates on successfully completing your masters degree programme and the reward is being awarded your degree!

Linda Karitanyi – Living her dream and fulfilling her aspirations!

We at Robert Kennedy College are pleased to share with our readers the joy and happiness of one of our students’ – Ms. Linda Karitanyi, who has successfully graduated from the University of Salford with a Master of Science degree in Procurement, Logistics and Supply Chain Management.

Linda choose to attend the graduation ceremony at the university to collect her certificate.

Linda Karitanyi – Sharing her joy with friends and family
Linda Karitanyi @ the University of Salford, UK

Robert Kennedy College with almost 14,000 students from almost every county in the world offers one of the most diverseaccredited and globally recognised online master’s degree programmes in both Business Law, Leadership and Management through exclusive partnerships with British universities. For more information download programme catalogue.