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Learn more about how universities are assessed in the QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2018.

This year, the methodology behind the QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2018 has been improved and refined, while the number of universities considered for inclusion has doubled. Now featuring 495 institutions, this year’s ranking is a unique and comprehensive resource for anyone interested in how successfully universities prepare their graduates for entering the working world.

Stanford University has again come top of the Graduate Employability ranking, one of five American universities in the top 10. Of the various ranking indicators explained below, Stanford achieved a perfect score for three: employer reputation, alumni outcomes and partnerships with employers.

Elsewhere in the world, 20 Asian universities are included in the top 100, compared to 31 from Europe and 8 from Australia. Explore this year’s results in full by clicking here.

QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2018 Methodology

The QS Graduate Employability Rankings is an innovative exercise designed to provide the world’s students with a unique tool by which they can compare university performance in terms of graduate employability outcomes and prospects.

For the current edition, we aimed to significantly increase this ranking’s scope. Whilst in previous years we acquired and analyzed data pertaining to 300 institutions and published a list of 200, this year, we are taking a bold step forward by doubling the number of evaluated institutions and publishing the top 500 universities that we have ranked.

We introduced a minimal but still-significant recalibration of the weightings we use, aiming to both reduce the reliance on self-reported figures and provide an enhanced normalization mechanism for the results – necessary, given their global scale. The Alumni Outcomes indicator now carries a weighting of 25%, while the Employer-Student Connections ratio has a reduced weight of 10%. Additionally, the Employer Reputation index reflects the changes recently introduced in the 2018 QS World University Rankings, with the domestic component of the indicator receiving increased weight.

As expected, the extended coverage and the methodological refinements have had an impact on the results, introducing greater volatility into the rankings table compared to previous editions. We fully expect this volatility to be confined to this instalment.

Each institution’s score is comprised of five carefully-chosen indicators. Employer Reputation excepted, all metrics used are, currently, unique to the QS Graduate Employability Rankings. These indicators and the main methodological enhancements introduced this year are described below:


Employer reputation (30%)

QS traditionally includes the Employer Reputation as a key performance area in all its ranking exercises. Of course, this metric adopts a leading role in a ranking focused solely on employability.

The Employer Reputation metric is based on over 30,000 responses to the QS Employer Survey, and asks employers to identify those institutions from which they source the most competent, innovative, effective graduates. The QS Employer Survey is also the world’s largest of its kind. Previously, international responses were weighted at 70%, with domestic responses contributing 30% of the total score for this metric. As was the case in the 2018 QS World University Rankings, this has been changed this year: international and domestic responses now each contribute 50% to an institution’s final score.

Alumni outcomes (25%)

A university that values the careers of its graduates tends to produce successful alumni. Here, QS have identified the alma maters of those individuals featuring in over 100 high-achievers lists, each measuring desirable outcomes in a particular walk of life. In total, QS have analyzed more than 30,000 of the world’s most innovative, creative, wealthy, entrepreneurial, and/or philanthropic individuals to establish which universities are producing world-changing individuals. This represents a dataset approximately 40% larger than that used in the previous edition. A higher weighting is applied to those individuals featured in lists focused on younger profiles, to ensure a high level of contemporary relevance. Likewise, undergraduate degrees have a higher weighting than post-graduate degrees, as it is assumed that the early stages of the higher education learning process are more formative in establishing an individual’s employability.

Considering the size of the dataset and the robustness of the results, the weighting of this indicator has been increased to 25% (versus 20% in previous editions).

Partnerships with Employers per Faculty (25%)

This indicator comprises two parts. First, it uses Elsevier’s Scopus database to establish which universities are collaborating successfully with global companies to produce citable, transformative research. Only distinct companies producing three or more collaborative papers in a five-year period (2011-2015) are included in the count. This year’s ranking accounts for university collaborations with 2,000 top global companies, as listed by Fortune and Forbes.

Second, it considers work placement-related partnerships that are reported by institutions and validated by the QS research team.

Both figures are adjusted to account for the number of faculty at each university, and then combined into a composite index.

Employer/Student Connections (10%)

This indicator involves summing the number of individual employers who have been actively present on a university’s campus over the past twelve months, providing motivated students with an opportunity to network and acquire information. Employer presence also increases the opportunities that students have to participate in career-launching internships and research opportunities. This ‘active presence’ may take the form of participating in careers fairs, organizing company presentations, or any other self-promoting activities.

This count is adjusted by the number of students, accounting for the size of each institution.

To compensate for the increased significance of the Alumni Outcomes indicator, the weight of this metric has been set at 10%, falling from 15% in previous editions.

Graduate employment rate (10%)

This indicator is the simplest, but essential for any understanding of how successful universities are at nurturing employability. It involves measuring the proportion of graduates (excluding those opting to pursue further study or unavailable to work) in full or part time employment within 12 months of graduation. To calculate the scores, we consider the difference between each institution’s rate and the average in the country in which they are based. To preclude significant anomalies, the results are adjusted by the range between the maximum and minimum values recorded in each country or region. This accounts for the fact that a university’s ability to foster employability will be affected by the economic performance of the country in which they are situated.

Estimated Scores
Whenever QS has not been able to collect data directly from institutions or reliable sources, a conservative estimate is used for missing records. This calculation is based on the records available from institutions based in the relevant country or region

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Written by Craig OCallaghan
As editor of, Craig oversees the site's editorial content and network of student contributors. He also plays a key editorial role in the publication of several guides and reports, including the QS Top Grad School Guide.

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