You are here

Interested in studying abroad?

Check out our comprehensive guides

QS Stars: Online Learning

QS Stars: Online Learning main image

Due to recent events, students now more than ever want reassurance that their education can continue no matter the circumstances. In order to help demonstrate how well-prepared they are,  QS Stars offers institutions the opportunity to be assessed in their ability to deliver teaching online through distance or blended learning degrees. Institutions can participate as part of a larger QS Stars audit, or be assessed in Online Learning on its own.   

Which institution have been assessed in Online Learning?  

The following institutions have been assessed in Online Learning within the last three years:

University Name


Online Learning rating



























How does the Online Learning assessment work? 

The QS Stars Online Learning category is comprised of seven indicators, each worth between 5 and 30 points, for a total possible score of 100.  These indicators look at a variety of aspects of online learning, and institutions submit evidence to show how well they meet each of these criteria.  Details about each indicator can be found below.  

Student-faculty engagement 

This indicator looks at several ways faculty members teaching online courses engage with students:

  1. Scheduled one-to-one conversations OR face-to-face component such as an opportunity to meet faculty in person, including at regional centres.

Scheduled one-to-one conversations: Students should have the opportunity to schedule individual appointments with members of the faculty using audio or video technology.

Face-to-face component: Students are given the opportunity to engage with faculty in person.  This indicator is only applicable for courses which are fully delivered through distance learning. 

  1. Scheduled live-streamed tutoring

Scheduled tutoring, delivered via live-streamed video, usually consists of small groups of students discussing learning and reading materials from lecturers.  It can be led by a faculty member, teaching assistant or other academic leader, and should be scheduled as part of the syllabus.    

  1. Scheduled live-streamed teaching/seminars

The teacher holds pre-scheduled, live-stream lectures which students attend in real time.   

  1. Pre-recorded course video

This looks at whether pre-recorded course videos are available for classes.  These videos are normally recorded by the faculty member and distributed to students, who can watch them in their own time. These can be a fundamental part of teaching (i.e. lectures) or supplemental materials. 

  1. Faculty assessment

Students are given the opportunity to provide feedback about the faculty members teaching online courses.

Student interaction

This indicator looks at ways the university encourages students and alumni to keep in touch.

  1. Online forum OR discussion board 

An online forum or a discussion board should be created where students will have the opportunity to discuss classwork, readings, upcoming exams, and more.

  1. Alumni network

The university alumni community should have an active website accessible to all alumni. 

Student services and technology

This indicator assesses whether distance learning students have access to library items, services to help find a job, and customized access to software for users with special needs.

  1. Access to online library databases 

Without physical access to a library and a university’s collection of physical books, students should have access to online materials such as e-books and databases. 

  1. Customized access for users with special needs 

Students with physical, mental, or learning disabilities should be able to access online learning software like any other distance learning student.  Here we look at the type of customizable access institutions offer to students with special needs.

  1. Online access to career centre OR dedicated online career advisor 

Students should have access to an online career center with services such as job listings, tips on writing a CV, advice on finding a job.  Alternately, institutions should employ a career advisor who is dedicated to assisting distance learning students.  

Online outsourcing 

5 organizations relying on programs and technologies by academic institution scaled down to 2 

Here we look at a university’s partnerships with external companies, organizations (including educational organizations), or government agencies.  These partnerships may be comprised of the university offering online training for the organizations’ employees, or the organization licencing the university’s online learning platform for education purposes. 

Application per enrolment OR Faculty-student ratio 

Applications per enrolment: This indicator looks at the number of applications made versus the number of enrolments to an institution’s online programs.  This measures the popularity and exclusiveness of online courses.

Faculty-student ratio: Here we measure whether institutions are keeping a reasonable faculty-student ratio for students taking classes online. 

Commitment to online learning

50% scaled down to 15% of degrees available at the university that can be taken entirely through online learning  

A university’s commitment to online learning can be measured by looking at the percentage of degrees available entirely through online learning.  The audit looks at courses as they are being delivered at the time of the assessment.  

Track record

10 years of operating successful online programs since the first graduating class 

The longer an institution has run programs online, the more they learn about the best way to operate.  This indicator looks at how long universities have successfully run fully online programs, from the year of the first graduating class. 

How are the ratings determined?  

Institutions receive a Star rating based on the number of points achieved:



QS Stars points infographic

Related categories:

Mohammad Tofeek B saved this
Written by Julia Gilmore
Julia is the Assistant Editor for TopUniversities, publishing articles for students and graduates across the world. A native Londoner, she holds an MSc in Marketing Strategy & Innovation from Cass Business School and a BA in Classical Studies & English from Newcastle University.

Want to leave a comment?

Please login or register to post
comment above our articles

0 Comment