Google has revealed the most popular searches for people around the world looking for universities. This ranking of online searches is very different from the traditional map of the global powerhouses of higher education. There is a strong interest in online courses, rather than traditional campus-based universities, says Google.
And there are five Indian institutions, five UK universities in the top 20 of most searched-for universities. The top search worldwide is for the University of Phoenix, a US-based, for-profit university, with many online courses and a sometimes controversial record on recruitment. The University of Phoenix, founded in the 1970s, comes ahead of famous US academic institutions such as Harvard, Stanford and Columbia.
The top European university is not some ancient institution, but the UK’s distance learning pioneer, the Open University. It has been developing online courses, including for the US, and is in third place in the Google most-searched rankings.
The University of Calicut, in Kerala, India, is fourth in this ranking of online searches. And Anna University in Chennai is the second Indian university in the top 10.
University College London and the London School of Economics are both ahead of Oxford and Cambridge among UK universities. Taking the UK higher education system as an example, Google’s search patterns show a globalised and fast-changing market. Among searches worldwide for UK universities, 40% are from outside the UK. The biggest international regions for searching for UK universities are Asia Pacific and Western Europe.
This has helped to put five UK universities in the top 20 – but Google’s report on search data shows the volatility and pace of change. In 2011, the most searched-for universities in the UK, apart from the Open University, were conventional campus-based institutions, headed by Oxford and Cambridge.
By 2014, all of these UK campus universities had been overtaken by Coursera, the US-based provider of online courses. Other Mooc providers, such as edX and FutureLearn, had also emerged as bigger than many traditional UK universities.
“The growth that they’ve experienced has been phenomenal,” says the Google analysis. “Higher education institutions must decide whether to embrace and adapt or risk getting left behind.”
1. University of Phoenix
2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
3. Open University
4. University of Calicut
5. University of California, Los Angeles
6. Anna University
7. Stanford University
8. London School of Economics
9. Columbia University
10. New York University
11. University of Mumbai
12. University College London
13. University of Oxford
14. Florida State University
15. Harvard University
16. University of Cambridge
17. Liberty University
18. University of Rajasthan
19. University of Michigan
20. Annamalai University
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