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Take a look at this subject-wise QS Ranking (CS/IT).

We see that Shanghai Jiao Tong University is sitting on the 46th place, Lomonosov Moscow in on the 49th place when Delft University is between 51 and 100 (probably 51st).

My hunch is that someone graduated from Delft University will be enjoying much more competitiveness in the job market (academia and industry) than someone graduated from Shanghai or Moscow.

I can think of two reasons:

  1. Political factor: China and Russia have spats with the USA. Since, the rule based order is dominated by the West, there is a space for a recruiter in the West to be tempted to devalue the graduate from China or Russia.

  2. Language & Culture: China and Russia are obscurer countries because of languages. Most people in Western countries know English better. Most of us don't know how are the learning environments like in China and Russia. Also, there is an undeniable preconception circulating in the air that Western countries are much more closer to each other in terms of understanding and hence their culture of education is much closer.

If I am not mistaken, if all factors are equal (like reputation of the supervisor, etc),

  • probably a degree from Warsaw would be much more competitive in the West than that of India or Saudi Arabia even though Warsaw sits on a much lower position in the ranking chart.

Is my perception correct?

Do international politics, language, and local culture affect recognition of research degrees like the way I described?

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    Just a reminder not to read too much into these rankings. The QS one in particular has received a fair amount of criticism. Also, a related question is University rank/stature - How much does it affect one's career post-Ph.D?. – Anyon Aug 31 '18 at 15:53
  • Which job market? I feel that the question implicitly assumes that everybody wants a job in the western world. – Flyto Aug 31 '18 at 16:11
  • @Flyto, not at all. the same is true in case of middle east or south Asia. Western degrees are better recognized even in china. – user84565 Aug 31 '18 at 17:10
  • @yahoo.com hmm, I think this will depend a lot on what they're doing, and at what level. Russia in particular is known for producing excellent mathematicians and oceanographers, probably among other fields. – Flyto Aug 31 '18 at 22:35
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Firstly, I think you are placing too much stock in these rankings. They are close to meaningless.

Secondly, in terms of "competitiveness in the job market (academia and industry)" or "recognition of research degrees", I don't think the ranking or location of the institution is very important. Individual factors matter much more.

That being said, international politics, language, and local culture do play a role in hiring.

Suppose a US university is hiring for a faculty position. They want a person that fits in to the department and can teach students. So they will prefer someone who is familiar with local customs and expectations and has good English language skills. This is a big part of what the job interview is about.

Now a person with a US or western degree is more likely to do well in a US job interview because they have experience with western culture and English language. But don't confuse correlation with causation.

Coming back to your hunch: Suppose person A grew up in China and then went to Delft for a PhD, while person B grew up in the Netherlands and went to Shanghai Jiao Tong for a PhD. Who would you think is more competitive on the job market? Both have gained familiarity with western culture and English language, in different ways. I'd say any "familiarity advantage" has disappeared.

Now I've answered from the perspective of hiring in western universities. The picture may look very different elsewhere. Also, for industry jobs, things may also be different and prestige may play a bigger role.

Lastly, international politics is really not something academics care about. However, universities are bound by the immigration laws of their country. So a US university currently cannot hire someone from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen because they cannot enter the country.

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    person A grew up in China and then went to Delft for a PhD, while person B grew up in the Netherlands and went to Shanghai Jiao Tong for a PhD. Who would you think is more competitive on the job market? --- the guy who grew up in China and went to Delft. – user84565 Aug 31 '18 at 23:32
  • @yahoo.com Based on what? The question is not very meaningful, but I'd say person B -- I've heard of SJTU but not Delft. – Thomas Aug 31 '18 at 23:41
  • I've heard of SJTU but not Delft --- practically more unlikely. – user84565 Sep 3 '18 at 5:37
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Your question is based on the wrong premise:

My hunch is that someone graduated from Delft University will be enjoying much more competitiveness in the job market (academia and industry) than someone graduated from Shanghai or Moscow.

What you are confusing is (i) the competitiveness of an individual applicant for a position, with (ii) the ranking of a university they graduated from.

The ranking of their alma mater is one factor that affects the competitiveness of an applicant, but it is only one of a very large number of certainly not even the most important one. Among the many other factors are (i) previous work experience and results, (ii) familiarity with the language and culture of the hiring institution, (iii) the strength of the university from which the applicant graduates in the area for which the applicant is seeking a job, and many other factors.

Ranking is really fairly low on the list of criteria hiring committees look at.

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Please don't confuse the actions of the US government (or any other) with the way that citizens and especially academics treat people from different cultures. We (academics) all recognize the contributions of those from other places. In mathematics (my field) Russians have contributed hugely to the literature. I am also aware of the quality of, for example, institutions in India.

It is true that language may play a part in evaluation, but only because the language of instruction (and even research) may be localized to a place, so someone who doesn't speak (and/or write) that language is at a disadvantage.

One additional consideration that is at the cusp of government and ordinary people. If the government suspects (rightly or wrongly) that a person is in the country for the purpose of stealing IP, then the government's wishes will be paramount and it is difficult for the academic establishment to counter it in questionable cases. While we may wish for a more universal acceptance of ideas, governments still build borders.

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    This answer kind of gives the sense of "academics are all perfectly fair unbiased people, it's only governments that cause problems". I think that's overly rosy. Academics are people and certainly can be affected by biases, including favorable or unfavorable views of universities based on country or culture. If you're claiming that those biases don't significantly affect decisions like hiring, I'd like to see that claim backed up by data. – Nate Eldredge Aug 31 '18 at 19:21
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    @NateEldredge, no, I wouldn't make that claim. However, most of the people I've met in academia are pretty fair, while most of the politicians I read about daily are driven by fear of the "other" resulting in terrible policies. The difference is pretty stark even if we aren't perfect. I still claim that it is a mistake to judge (all) people in a country by the policies of their government. Few countries are uniform enough in their views to support such a claim, and I think educated people in general (academics in particular) have more positive views. – Buffy Aug 31 '18 at 19:34

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