Rating Universities on Online/Distance learning: QS Stars | Top Universities

Rating Universities on Online/Distance learning: QS Stars

By Staff Writer

Updated March 5, 2016 Updated March 5, 2016

Within the detailed assessment framework provided by the QS Stars university rating system, universities receive a rating for the learning environment they provide. This is assessed either by considering universities’ on-campus facilities, or by evaluating their provision of online and distance learning options.

Universities assessed for online and distance learning receive a total score out of 100, based on the following:

Student services and technology (20 points)

Up to 20 points are available for the quality of online student services offered. Two points are gained for each of the following criteria fulfilled: tablet compatible, Windows compliant, iOS complaint, Android compliant, low bandwidth capacity access, application for smartphone, digitized library, customized access for users with special needs, online access to career center/ dedicated online careers advisor. Two bonus points are awarded to universities which meet seven or more of these requirements.

Track record (10 points)

Up to 10 points are awarded in recognition of the length of time universities have been focusing on providing online programs. Full points are given to those with 10 years’ of successful provision, with points awarded on a sliding scale down to zero.

Student-faculty engagement (20 points)

This category considers the teaching support provided by the university for students enrolled in online and distance learning programs. Two points are awarded for each of the following: dedicated point of contact (tutor or similar), scheduled conversations (phone/video conference), face to face component (dedicated opportunities to meet faculty at drop-in sessions), live tutoring, live streaming course video, pre-recorded course video, 24/7 support, faculty assessment. Four bonus points are awarded for universities fulfilling six or more of these.

Student interaction (20 points)

Opportunities for interaction with course-mates are also considered, with five points available for each of the following: online forum/discussion board, alumni network, group work/ team assessment, peer assessment.

Commitment to online and distance learning (10 points)

A further 10 points are available for universities demonstrating a strong commitment to online and distance learning, awarded on a sliding scale. Full points go to universities at which 75% of degrees offered can be taken through online/distance learning, scaled down to 25%.

Reputation (20 points)

Finally, QS Stars considers how well- established and -reputed universities are within the field of online and distance learning. Half of the 20 points available here are awarded if a university has at least five organizations using its programs and technology for staff training. The remaining 10 points are awarded on a sliding scale, based on the ratio of completed applications per enrolments (an indication of how popular and competitive courses are). Full points are given to institutions where 10 applications are completed per enrolment, scaled down to those with two applications completed per enrolment.

This article was originally published in August 2014 . It was last updated in March 2016

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