This topic, very on-point and one of discussion throughout international higher education--from the US and Canada to Europe and over here in Asia and Australia and New Zealand--is hardly easily evaluated by us, the consumer. The data is not readily accessible and even if it is, we have no idea what to do with it. When I used to work in higher education the P&L (profits and losses) was discussed at the Board level but rarely made it into--in an easily understood and relevant context--the hands of the consumer. You.
We are at an interesting nexus in international higher education: Brexit poses questions for us on its potential impact on class sizes, quality of professors and lifespan of some institutions; some small colleges close their doors in the US; budget cuts in Australian higher education affect class offerings; tuition-dependent private universities in Europe are scrambling; some Asian universities focus on rankings to the detriment of their core business: where are the consumers--you, the applicant and parent--left to try to gauge the health of a university?
This question is coming up more and more--and should be--sparking the higher education industry to start to give us clearer answers. As you might suspect, that is happening in the US--who has the largest higher education market in the world and thus the largest market watching--and will hopefully (and as competition only continues to get more intense for students globally) start to rattle the industry in other global markets to become more transparent and help us better understand who is strong, who is not, and how this is measured.
Forbes has developed over the past couple of years a College Financial Grade for most universities. Their methodology is strong and is explained. And, while this is for US universities only--there does not [yet] exist one for universities in other countries but I am hopeful Brexit will be the impetus for something similar to come out for UK unis--their methodology (ie: #9 and how much an institution spends per student on their core mission--educating) makes sense for most universities and should be something we at least read, question and try to understand as you go through this process.
It is one more element to gauge in developing your understanding of an institution. One element should never dictate for us if an institution is a fit; it's more complex than that but we gather information and then you determine what is best for you.