Google’s released stats on what universities are being searched for across the world, and the resultant top 20 (by searches). Another way in which Google is affecting daily life, with people’s searches in their engine possibly having more influence and advertising strength than any official data from actual universities such as number of applicants, or interest through their own websites.

Google has become such a benchmark that we all assume to not only help gauge the popularity of each university by what people are actually looking for, but helping to compare like-for-like with other universities.

There’s also 3 other good points here:

1. Universities are understandably targeting the online learning niche, offering more distance- and online-learning courses as well as the traditional ones at their locations. Not only is the way that people are looking for learning opportunities by using online means, but they are offering the actual courses through online means as well. Personally I think a mix of the two is ideal – a lot of actual material, video-lessons, resources, forum-interaction being online, however there is still the personal contact and meetings together at a location, or at the very least over telephone calls. A lot of UK university and college courses of course now do this to some degree anyway, with maybe monthly get–togethers with students, particularly evenings and weekends to help accommodate people’s working lives.

2. There is serious interest from overseas students (40% indicated here). That’s a whopping amount of interest and showing just what a large international-arena we now have with the power of the internet and other practicalities such as being able to live and travel in the UK. This can then change the whole dynamics of first reaching and enrolling students, and then accommodating them, with knock-on effects in any local university community (for example London house prices being affected by foreign investments, including those for educational reasons).

3. The operation of the actual university’s website is vital, and quite rightly mentioned. It’s one thing to get the initial searches and interest from students, it’s another to then do something with the leads through the website and online presence of the actual university. Two factors to this are mentioned here, the first is that their websites need regularly updating with fresh news. The second is the stats, and being able to more closely diagnose the search queries that help bring traffic to a website, so looking closely at what exact words they are using in their searches to indicate what stage of the searching process they are at.