What criteria does QS Stars use when rating universities, and why?
There has been much discussion around what attributes form a world-class university, particularly with the growing popularity of university rankings and the criteria used to assess universities worldwide.
Much criticism has been directed to the criteria used in rankings and other assessments, based on the argument that universities are different to one another and therefore need to be assessed on a range of categories that recognize distinct strengths.
The following criteria, the basis for QS Stars ratings, were selected as the key pillars of what makes a world class university, taking into account a number of factors that are often overlooked in university rankings and other assessments.
Indicators considered here include assessments of research quality amongst academics, productivity (i.e. number of papers published), citations (i.e. how recognized and referred to those papers are by other academics) and awards (e.g. Nobel Prizes or Fields Medals).
A key role of a university is the nurture of tomorrow's finest minds, inspiring the next generation of potential research academics. Typical indicators in teaching quality assessments are collation of student feedback through national student surveys, further study rate and student faculty ratio.
Graduate employability encompasses more than academic strength, focusing on ‘work-readiness’ - the ability to work effectively in a multi-cultural team, to deliver presentations, to manage people and projects. Common indicators in this area are surveys of employers, graduate employment rates and careers service support.
Here, effective indicators could be the proportion of international students and staff, the numbers of exchange students arriving and departing, the number of nationalities represented in the student body, the number and strength of international partnerships with other universities and the presence of religious facilities.
University infrastructure is an indicator which enables students to know what to expect from their university experience. Indicators such as sporting, IT, library and medical facilities, as well as the number of students societies are considered within this criterion.
This category looks at various indicators such as student services and technology, track record, student faculty engagement, student interaction, commitment to online and reputation of the university.
Engagement measures how seriously a university takes its obligations to society by investing in the local community as well as in charity work and disaster relief. It also analyses the regional human capital development and environmentally awareness.
Innovation, the output of the universities activities and findings to economy, society and culture, has become increasingly relevant for universities.
Effective indicators are the number of concerts and exhibitions organized by the institution, the number of credits and cultural awards and cultural investment.
This area looks at the accessibility of the university to students, particularly at scholarships and bursaries, disability access, gender balance and low-income outreach.
Excellence in a narrow field is as valid a claim to world-class status as competence in the round. These criteria are designed to extend credit where it's due. This category looks at accreditations and discipline rankings.
For more in-depth information about QS Stars, visit the QS Intelligence Unit website.