Rating universities on academic development: QS Stars | Top Universities
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Rating universities on academic development: QS Stars

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Craig OCallaghan

Updated May 13, 2024
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QS Stars: Academic development

Your university experience should be a journey of continuous growth. Look for an institution that invests in faculty and student academic development. This means lecturers who are passionate about teaching and constantly hone their skills with the latest methods to keep you engaged in the material. Strong mentorship opportunities and valuable research experience become the norm, preparing you not just for exams, but for your future career. When a university prioritises development, it fosters a community of lifelong learners, and that's the kind of environment where you'll reach your full academic potential. 

To measure how good a university’s academic development is, QS Stars breaks it down into few different areas: 

Faculty development programmes 

Universities will be awarded points if at least 30% of their faculty members participate in faculty development programmes. These programmes are a set of structured activities and resources designed to improve the effectiveness, skills, and knowledge of the faculty members in their professional roles. They can help academics deepen their knowledge in their specific fields (like continual practical training for a medical professor), develop essential teaching skills or student engagement practices, or learn new university systems and technologies. 

Faculty with PhD 

Faculty with PhDs are actively involved in pushing the boundaries of knowledge in their fields. By bringing their expertise and advanced research skills directly into the classroom, you benefit from their extensive knowledge and firsthand research experience. Learning from them not only deepens your understanding, exposing you to the most recent developments, but also equips you with sophisticated analytical tools that are valuable for your academic and professional future. 

Full points are awarded to institutions that has at least 80% of faculty with PhD (or equivalent terminal degree). 

Learning development centre 

If you want an extra helping hand with your studies, a Learning Development Centre (LDC) can provide valuable support. LDCs offer a variety of services to help you excel, from honing your study skills and time management to developing critical thinking abilities. Trained professionals provide expert guidance and personalised coaching tailored to your specific learning goals. Whether you're aiming to conquer a challenging subject or simply want to boost your academic confidence, LDCs offer a range of learning materials like workshops, study guides, and online tools to support your success. 

Full points are awarded to institutions that have the following resources: 

  1. At least one advisor 

  1. Academic writing support and assistance 

  1. Tutoring or mentoring programmes 

  1. Skills development resources (study skills, soft skills) 

  1. Webinars, tutorials, workshops organised by the learning development centre 

Pedagogical innovation 

Put simply, pedagogical innovation means introducing fresh and effective teaching methods into the classroom, moving beyond traditional lectures to create a more engaging learning experience. This can transform your education by making it deeper and more engaging, equipping you with essential skills like critical thinking and collaboration, catering to different learning styles, and preparing you for the ever-evolving job market. 

Points are given if the university has received an international innovation in teaching award within the past five years. 

Teaching spending out of turnover 

This indicator refers to the proportion of an institution's revenue that is allocated specifically to teaching and related academic services.  

Adequate funding helps attract and retain highly qualified faculty members  – key to a quality education. Investment in teaching allows for continuous improvements and diversification of the curriculum, ensuring it remains relevant to current academic and industry standards. 

Full points are awarded if at least 50% of total spending represents expenses with academic staff (including teaching staff costs). 

By prioritising faculty development, academic support facilities, and innovative teaching methods, universities cultivate an environment that fosters intellectual curiosity and prepares you for a thriving career. Don't settle for anything less.  

QS Stars ratings go beyond typical rankings, to help you easily find and evaluate universities in the areas you care about.  

Want to know which universities have achieved a high QS Stars rating for their academic development? Explore the full QS Stars ratings now. 

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