Educating Leaders: Universities and Schools Driving the Digital Revolution

Educating Leaders: Universities and Schools Driving the Digital Revolution 

Few phenomena will shape the future as profoundly as digital transformation and the emergence of new technologies, such as widely accessible AI. 

Clearly, in this new era, higher education is a driving force in shaping the evolution of industries and economies, and even societies, actively reorganizing teaching methods and educational paths to lead the way forward.

That is why, from the outset, the "Digital Leaders in Higher Education" project has aimed to embrace the cross-disciplinary nature of the knowledge, skills, and competencies required by these changes. This approach has led to Emerging's development of a unique methodology, centered on graduate outcomes, to identify the universities and schools grooming future tech leaders worldwide. 

First launched in 2021, the Digital Leaders in Higher Education Rankings this year transitions into a platform that will regularly release analyses throughout the coming year. Read on to learn more about the ranking and stay tuned for updates! 

How We Identify the Universities and Schools Educating Tomorrow’s Innovators

Our first release this year, the 2024 Digital Leaders Rankings, takes a unique approach to determine the universities that cultivate notable figures in the technology world today, and are more likely to do so in the future. 

The first prong of its two-part analysis looks at real-world graduate outcomes. It examines the profiles of 150,000 noteworthy digital professionals across 70 global industry sectors, extracting university affiliations and targeted keywords from their CVs. 

This broad-based profile analysis is then enriched with survey insights from more than 3,500 leading experts, recruiters, and employers from the IT and startup sectors to gather insights on which schools and programs they believe cultivate graduates most proficient in navigating the digital transformation. 

Therefore, the combined result means that the Digital Leaders ranking not only shows how employers perceive universities but also how universities perform in nurturing tech professionals. 

Multidisciplinarity and Digital Transformation

When considering which skills are necessary to bring new technologies into the world, one might first focus on a “hard skill” like computer programming, and understandably so. Technical skills are the building blocks of creating new technologies, whether they be browser-based software or consumer devices. 

However, it’s also important to consider that technical skills are only one aspect of the multi-dimensional innovation process. While IT and engineering competencies are invaluable, “soft skills” in business management are also highly significant since these will enable new technologies to come to market and reach their audiences. 

Thus, in addition to listing the Top 200 Universities and Schools for Digital Leaders worldwide, the ranking also names the best institutions for a range of fields associated with technological development: Computer Science Studies, Data Science/AI Studies, Digital Entrepreneurship, Digital Transformation Management, and Online Degrees. The listing therefore includes both universities offering STEM programs and business schools. Notably, our analysis found that many of the key leaders in IT today have non-technical backgrounds.

Significantly, we will enhance the Best Universities & Schools for Digital Entrepreneurship program. It showcases universities that have adeptly adapted to the business world, providing elite tech and business training to graduates, along with fostering an entrepreneurial spirit to fuel tomorrow’s startups. 

Evaluating University Outcomes in The Job Market

As with our annual Global Employability University Ranking and Survey, graduate outcomes are the core of our Digital Leader rankings. This means that, as compared to other rankings that rely on academic metrics such as teaching quality, the Digital Leader results present a different perspective on universities and offer concrete, real-world data analysis for prospective university students considering their future careers.  This is confirmed by the fact that, as seen in the rankings, Business Schools are also producing innovative and disruptive digital leaders.

Additionally, higher education institutions looking to understand how to develop tomorrow’s digital leaders can also derive insights from the ranking as they consider the implementation of new study programs in AI or business courses in technical leadership for the AI age. Given the interdisciplinarity seen in these rankings, universities, of course, should continue to look beyond AI-specific subdisciplines as they consider how all programs can prepare future graduates for the evolving workplace. It is worth noting that digital skills are one of the most in-demand qualifications that employers expect of university graduates. 

Further Insights

Digital Leaders 2024 is only the first in a series of data-driven digital leadership analyses that will be released throughout the course of the year. To read Emerging’s latest insights as soon as they’re released, follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook

More about Emerging: 

Emerging is a consultancy firm dedicated to corporate clients to help them optimize recruitment and establish tailored partnerships with higher education institutions. Pioneers in promoting the employability of young graduates and professionals, they help organizations and governments implement sustainable employability policies. Their experts work side-by-side with senior leaders from the world’s top corporate and academic organizations.  In addition to organizing the annual Digital Leaders in Higher Education Ranking, the firm also sponsors the annual Global Employability University Ranking and Survey, the employability ranking consulted most by employers worldwide.