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Rating Universities on Teaching: QS Stars

By Staff Writer

Updated February 22, 2021 Updated February 22, 2021

How does the QS Stars university rating system go about measuring universities' teaching quality?

While the quality of a university’s research tends to receive a lot of attention in international rankings, for its students, the quality of its teaching is equally, if not more, important.

Of course the two are often closely linked. It is today’s students that will be tomorrow’s researchers, and only a high standard of teaching can allow them to make them this transition.

A good QS Stars rating in this category indicates a university with inspiring staff who provide students with the guidance they need to fully realize their potential.

We use four criteria to measure teaching quality:

Overall student satisfaction (40 points)

An enjoyable learning experience which makes the university experience seem like it’s worth the expense will lead to satisfied students, so satisfied high level of student satisfaction is a good indicator of teaching standards.

To work out the levels of student satisfaction, we use statistics from the National Student Satisfaction Survey, or an equivalent test. If 75% of students profess to be satisfied (with a minimum response rate of 20%) the university is awarded full marks. The scores are scaled down to 50% satisfaction.


Completion (40 points)

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. If 90% of students graduate from an institution, that institution is awarded full points for completion. Completion scores are scaled down to 60%.

Satisfaction with teaching (40 points)

This is a more specific version of the previous criterion, which 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 National Student Satisfaction Survey (or an equivalent survey), and uses the same scale as the overall satisfaction measure.


Faculty with PhD (40 points)

Having highly skilled faculty members is a key factor in research production, while also having the potential to lead to high-quality and inspirational teaching and supervision. If 80% of an institution’s faculty members are qualified to this level, top points are awarded, with points awarded on a scale down to 60% of faculty with a PhD.

Further study (20 points)

Good teaching can engender a genuine passion for a subject within students, as well as allowing them to achieve highly and enabling them to pursue the subject independently. Therefore the proportion of students who choose to pursue further study is a good way to measure teaching quality.
If 30% of students choose to go on to further study after completing their degrees we award a university maximum points for this criterion, with points awarded on a scale down to 10%.

Student/faculty ratio (50 points)

No matter how good individual faculty members may be at teaching, it is no use if each one is charged with more students than they can possibly dedicate any kind of serious attention to.

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

To score the highest possible mark here the institution should employ one faculty member for every ten students.

This article was originally published in November 2012 . It was last updated in February 2021

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