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QS Stars Ratings Explained

QS Stars Ratings Explained main image

Find out what the new QS Stars rating system can tell you about a university, and what to expect from an institution with highest 'Five Star plus' rating.

QS Stars awards universities with a rating of between One and Five Stars, depending on their performance in eight criteria amongst the following: Research, Teaching, Employability, Internationalization, Facilities, Online / Distance Learning, Innovation, Culture, Access, Engagement and Specialist Criteria.

The rating system aims to give prospective students an additional tool to use when choosing a university, providing deeper insights into individual institutions.

So, what can you expect from each level of university?

One star universities

A typical one star university has established all the key components required to provide a quality service to its students and, in many cases, the foundations upon which to build a stronger domestic reputation.

A one star institution will often have been established within the last twenty years and will be putting in place the leadership and ambition to develop quickly.

Two star universities

A typical two star university is active in research and has an established domestic reputation. The institution is a key part of its local community and will often have begun to consider international opportunities.

Three Star universities
A typical three star university is nationally well recognized, and may have also begun to attract international recognition. This institution maintains a reputable level of research and its graduates are attractive to employers.

Four Star universities
A typical four star university is highly international, demonstrating excellence in both research and teaching. The institution provides an excellent environment for students and faculty.

Five Star universities
A typical five stars university is generally world class in a broad range of areas, enjoys a high reputation and has cutting edge facilities and internationally renowned research and teaching faculty.

Five Star plus universities
A typical five star plus institution is not just world-class, but an elite destination to which the very best students and faculty worldwide will aspire. Its brand name will transform the résumé of anyone connected with it.

Five stars plus can apply equally to the world’s foremost comprehensive and specialist institutions.

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Written by QS Staff Writer

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Why are just some of the universities in QS World University Rankings included in QS Stars rating?
What's the reason why just some of them have been eligible for the star rating?
I'm trying to compare two universities and one is higher in the ranking with no star rating and the other is lower, but awarded with five stars

Hi Jesús, QS Stars is an 'opt-in' rating for universities, meaning that although only a select few universities are featured, the rating provides a more in depth look at what each school offers (based on this diverse methodology). If you look at the QS World University Rankings however, based on a more select methodology, you'll see the true international ranking of the university based on key academic factors. While you can learn more about the school with a five star rating, it does not automatically make it a higher rank.

I hope this helps you make your choice! 



Okie doke, Thanks Laura !

When you say five plus can equally apply to the worlds foremost comprehensive and specialist institutions are you referring to the qs worlds top ranked university list?

Hi David. That sentence means the "five plus" rating could be awarded both to comprehensive and to specialist institutions - ie. universities that teach a very broad range of subjects, and also those with a more specialized focus, such as dedicated technology or social science schools. The QS Stars rating system is conducted independently from the QS World University Rankings.