Rating universities on online learning: QS Stars | Top Universities

Rating universities on online learning: QS Stars

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Staff Writer

Updated Sep 23, 2022



Rating universities on online learning: QS Stars

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 a university's on-campus facilities, or by evaluating their provision of online learning options.

The QS Stars Online Learning category is comprised of seven indicators as per below:

Student-faculty engagement

This indicator considers the teaching support provided by the university for students enrolled in online learning programmes. Full points are awarded for institutions that: have scheduled one-to-one conversations or face-to-face components (such as an opportunity to meet faculty in-person), live tutoring, live streaming course videos, pre-recorded course videos and faculty assessment. Bonus points are awarded for universities fulfilling three or more of these.

Student interaction

Opportunities for interaction with course-mates are also considered. Full points are awarded for activities in online forum/discussion board or alumni network.

Student services and technology

Full points are awarded for each of the criteria fulfilled: access to online library databases, including customised access for users with special needs, plus online access to a career centre or dedicated online careers advisor.

Online outsourcing

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

Application per enrolment or faculty-student ratio

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

Faculty-student ratio measures whether institutions are keeping a reasonable faculty-student ratio for students taking classes online.

Commitment to online learning

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

Track record

The longer an institution has run programmes online, the more they tend to learn about the best ways to operate. This indicator looks at how long universities have successfully run fully online programmes, from the year of the first graduating class. Institutions are awarded full points if they have 10 years of operating successful online programmes.

QS Stars does the evaluating for you, so you can easily see where a university’s strengths are in order to find a programme that suits your priorities. Take a look at which universities have achieved a high QS Stars rating for their online programmes.