Does the UvA’s high QS ranking hold up? 

Does the UvA’s high QS ranking hold up? 

It seems like celebrations are in order! Why? The Qs World University Rankings by Subject 2022 has yet again ranked the UvA as number one in the world in Media and Communication Sciences. Surely, UvA’s Media and Communication Sciences faculty members and students are proud of this fact. Right?  We spoke to a student and a member of said faculty to find out if the rankings hold up.

Yes, the fact that the university is so highly ranked influenced my choice to study media here, but only for 60% at most’, Virginia Rossini explains. Rossini is a 22-year-old international student, originally from Milan, who’s currently majoring in political sciences and doing a second bachelor’s in Media and Culture. Despite the course being ranked so well, there were other influences in her decision to study media at our university. The fact that she had a prior interest in film and media, was friends with some people in the course and her idea that ‘media’ is ‘an easily combinable course’ with her main bachelor also had their influences.  Yet despite all of this, she certainly wouldn’t have studied media at the UvA, if the course was poorly ranked.

When asked if you notice the university’s lofty ranking in the everyday goings-on of the school, she says no: ‘The professors in some cases are well known in their field, but they don’t make a big deal out of it, you certainly don’t feel like you’re pressured to maintain a certain set of academic standards by the UVA.’ Despite the UvA hiring some of the best in their field, she does feel like there could be improvements made to the course. The Media courses often feel disconnected from the rest of the university.  She also gets the sense that the course doesn’t teach you a critical analytical skillset. As an example: ‘Media students feel very clueless about other studies and what they’re about.’

Interestingly enough, I got an opposing student culture perspective from faculty member dr. Diego Semerene, who specifically praised the student’s aptitude and diversity when it came to his course. dr. Semerene is a Brazilian-born, United States raised professor at the UvA where they teach ‘Queer and transgender media and cultural analysis’. Dr. Semerene is relatively new at the UvA, coming over from the University of Southern California. He came over right around the time when their media faculty lost its claim to being ranked number one in the world. While never specifically drawn to the University of Amsterdam by only the ranking, he was certainly well aware of the UvA and Dutch media academia’s lofty position in the world. When asked if working at such a highly ranked university feels daunting.  And if there might be more of an emphasis on prestigious research projects, they said the opposite was true; ‘The Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis (ASCA) is an amazing environment, you not only get academic support but emotional and mental support as well when working on a project. Of course, we get remarks when we don’t publish anything in a long while, but we won’t get reprimanded or fired.’ They specifically noted that the UvA in general, and ASCA’s workplace environment specifically, is really stimulating and diverse; a stark contrast to the British academic world which they described as ‘toxic’. 

While ranking certainly isn’t everything when it comes to your choice of university, it seems the number one ranking of the UvA Media and Communication Sciences courses is based on facts. As such, the ranking is a good tool for any aspiring student looking to come to the UvA in the future.

Photographer: Chiara Goldenstern