Rating universities for specialist criteria: QS Stars | Top Universities

Rating universities for specialist criteria: QS Stars

By Staff Writer

Updated July 18, 2022 Updated July 18, 2022

The QS Stars university rating system allows universities to be rated for their strength in a specialist subject area. The Specialist Criteria categories take a closer look at an institution’s specialist areas, using subject rankings or programme-specific data to highlight outstanding programmes. Institutions are assessed in one of the two categories: 

Subject Ranking 

There are a great number of universities that can be considered to be specialist institutions. These specialist schools focus on either a general subject area or, in some cases, a very narrow area of expertise. In addition to this, even many comprehensive universities will have subject areas in which they excel beyond all others. 

Broad subject area ranking or Subject Ranking

If a university features in our most recent QS World University Rankings by Subject, several points will be given according to their position. There are 5 broad subject areas:  Engineering & Technology, Natural Sciences, Life Sciences, Arts & Humanities or Social Sciences & Management . If a university features in the top 50 in any of the above broad subject area, then they will score maximum points.

For Subject Rankings, universities with the highest score in individual subjects – based on the most recent QS World University Rankings by Subject or respected alternate global subject rankings – will be awarded full points. Again, scaled scoring is employed, with a top 20 position earning maximum points.

Internationally and/or national recognised accreditations

While subject rankings are one of the measures to check the institution’s programme standing against other institutions’ programmes, it’s also important to check the quality of the ranked programme. Subject accreditation at national and international level is a good measure of identifying the quality of the programmes. Points are rewarded for each international and domestic accreditation they’ve received from a recognised accreditation body specialised in a faculty area in the home country, or other country accreditation body.

OR 

Programme Strength 

The Programme Strength category was introduced as an alternate to Subject Ranking to cater to universities that did not have a broad or narrow field ranking in the QS World University Ranking by Subject. This category was based on a similar category in the methodology for QS Stars for Business Schools. Although similar, the thresholds and points differ for all.  

Graduate employment rate

This indicator involves measuring the proportion of graduates (excluding those opting to pursue further study or unavailable to work) in full or part time employment within a year of graduation. Maximum points are awarded if more than 95% of job-seeking graduates are in work or started a business within 24 months.

Completion

Completion refers to the percentage of students enrolled who succeed in graduating. Institutions with high completion rates are generally perceived as providing strong faculty support and teaching methods as well as well-structured programs. Institutions will be awarded full points if they have 95% of students graduate.

Student satisfaction

This criterion asks the students directly whether they are satisfied with the teaching they are receiving – a question whose importance is self-evident. It also works with the National Student Satisfaction Survey (or an equivalent survey) and uses the same scale as the overall satisfaction measure.

Faculty-student ratio

It is a university’s responsibility to ensure that it is staffed to an appropriate level and hasn’t taken on more students than it can handle. This measure is designed to reward universities who take this duty of care seriously.

Applications per place

This is the number of applications made to the specialist program in the last academic year versus the total number of places in the first year of the program.

International students

A diverse campus prepares all students for life in the 21st century and careers in a global economy. Universities that bring in foreign students and work hard to foster a culturally diverse campus environment offer students authentic opportunities to learn about themselves and the world they live in.

An institution will be awarded full points for having 30% of international students.

Internationally and/or national recognised accreditations

While subject rankings are one of the measures to check the institution’s program standing with other institutions program, it is also important to check on the quality of the ranked program. Subject accreditation at national and international level is a good measure of identifying the quality of the programs. Points are rewarded for each international and domestic accreditation they’ve received from a recognised accreditation body specialised in a faculty area in the home country or other country accreditation body.

This article was originally published in November 2012 . It was last updated in July 2022

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