Globalization Index: Unraveling the Globalization Metrics in QS Rankings

25 Jan 2024
QS Rankings

Technology has boosted globalization in every aspect, from industry to education. The ability to connect to far-off places instantly has boosted the education sector. Accreditation remains one of the primary goals for institutes of higher education.

Colleges, universities, and other higher education institutions (HEIs) worldwide are seeking global recognition through accreditation and reputation.

A higher education ERP helps colleges and universities prepare for accreditation. However, it is not the only factor that builds a good reputation at the global level. Getting a top international ranking on global education lists is also necessary for global recognition.

For this, colleges and universities focus on ranking highly on a few chosen university ranking lists, including the QS World University Rankings.

Overview of QS World University Rankings

Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) is a renowned higher education analytics firm. It compiles a portfolio of comparisons of colleges and universities from all over the world. In 1990, Nunzio Quacquarelli founded QS to provide advice and information to students who were seeking to study overseas.

Today, QS World University Rankings analyze and compare colleges and universities along with products and services related to higher education from all over the world. Overall, the QS ranking measures the standards of:

  • Education
  • Faculty
  • Infrastructure
  • Curriculum Framework

For the past more than 20 years, QS has been publishing a list of well-researched rankings of colleges and universities worldwide. Its international reputation has grown immensely.

QS rankings are quoted on more than 1,000 websites, journals, and newspapers worldwide. All along, QS has added new parameters to improve the reliability of the list.

One of its main aims has been to produce an globalization index of higher education institutes from across the globe. This lets students easily compare multiple universities and choose the best-suited option for studying overseas. The decision to pursue higher education abroad is one of life’s most crucial ones for students.

Hence, there is a great demand for a reliable and reputed ranking system for the global education sector.

Let’s now unravel the globalization metrics of the QS world rankings and learn the details of every parameter of qualification more deeply.

QS World University Rankings Methodology

The QS ranking methodology evaluates higher education institutions (HEIs) based on four main categories and six index metrics. The categories and their corresponding metrics are:

QS Rankings


This category measures the diversity and global outlook of the HEIs. It considers two metrics:

  • International Faculty Ratio: The percentage of international faculty members.
  • International Student Ratio: The percentage of students who are international.

Education Environment

This category assesses the quality and accessibility of the education provided by the HEIs. It considers one metric:

Faculty-to-Student Ratio: The number of students divided by the number of faculty members. A lower ratio indicates a more personalized and supportive learning environment.

Research Reputation:

This category reflects the academic prestige and recognition of the HEIs. It considers two metrics:

  • Academic Reputation: The opinions of academic experts on the HEIs that excel in their fields. QS conducts one of the world’s largest academic surveys to collect this data.
  • Employer Reputation: The opinions of global employers on the HEIs that produce the most employable graduates. QS conducts an employer reputation survey to collect this data.

Research Impact:

This category evaluates the influence and contribution of the research output of the HEIs. It considers one metric:

  • Citations per Faculty: The number of citations received by the publications of the faculty members, normalized by the number of faculty members. QS uses Elsevier Scopus as the data source for this metric.

The QS ranking methodology assigns different weightages to each metric, depending on the category. The table below shows the weightages for each metric and category.

Category Metric Weightage in %
Globalization Global Faculty Ratio 5
Global student Ratio 5
Education Environment Faculty-to-Student Ratio 20
Research Reputation Academic Reputation 40
Employer Reputation 10
Research Impact Citations per Faculty 20
Research Impact Citations per Faculty 20

The QS ranking methodology aims to provide a comprehensive and balanced evaluation of the HEIs, based on both quantitative and qualitative data. The ranking helps aspiring students, researchers, and employers compare and choose the best HEIs for their needs and goals.

Recent Changes in QS Ranking Methodology

In recent years, the QS ranking methodology has introduced some changes to reflect the changing trends and demands in higher education. Some of the notable changes are:


In 2022, QS added sustainability as an additional metric, with a 5% weightage. This metric measures the environmental, social, and economic impact of the HEIs, based on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

QS is the first global-ranking company to include sustainability as a ranking criterion in response to the growing concern and awareness of climate change and environmental issues.


In 2023, QS increased the weightage of employer reputation from 10% to 15% and added employment outcomes as an additional metric with a 5% weightage. This metric measures the employability and career prospects of the graduates of the HEIs, based on the QS Graduate Employability Rankings.

QS aims to provide more information and insights on the skills and competencies that employers value and seek in the global job market.

International Research Network:

In 2024, QS added an international research network as an additional metric with a 5% weightage. This metric measures the extent and quality of the international collaborations and partnerships of the HEIs in research activities.

QS uses the Scopus database to calculate the number and proportion of co-authored publications with international authors. QS recognizes the importance and benefits of an international research network for advancing knowledge and innovation.

What is QS World University Ranking? - A Complete Guide

QS World University Rankings Eligibility Criteria

These are the criteria that universities have to fulfill to be evaluated by QS rankings -

Subject wise

To qualify for the QS World University Rankings, the university should provide full undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs. These degree courses should be in two out of five broad faculty areas.

It should also offer a full-degree program in at least two narrow subjects, as defined by the QS classification of subjects. Additionally, the university should have conducted a minimum of three graduating classes in the narrow subjects to become eligible.

A university that offers only degree programs on a single broad faculty classifies as a “single-faculty institution” for evaluation. Such universities are usually listed in the Sustainability Ranking or Rankings by Subject list.


To qualify for evaluation for QS Rankings by Region and World University Rankings, universities should provide full-time undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs in any subject area. The university must have offered these programs for at least three graduating classes at both levels to become eligible for evaluation.

If a university or college provides degrees for only undergraduates or postgraduates, it is classified as a “single-level institution.”. These institutions are evaluated only for Graduate Employability Rankings, or Subject-wise ranking.


In both of the above-listed criteria, the university should provide the programs in person and on campus. The university can have online education services, but these should be in addition to the in-person education.

QS World University Rankings Inclusion & Exclusion

Remember, there are certain factors for exclusion for evaluation in QS rankings. For instance, double or joint degree programs are not considered for evaluation. This is where multiple institutions collaborate to offer graduate or postgraduate programs.

After fulfilling the eligibility criteria, there are certain criteria for inclusion that an institution must satisfy. These are three standard metrics that help analyze universities in depth. Remember, being selected for analysis does not guarantee that the university or institution will rank in the final published list.

Here are the three major inclusion criteria that universities have to fulfill to be considered for analysis -

  • Reputation

Every new entrant to the ranking process should have ranked in the Top 20% in Academic Reputation.

  • Research

The entrant should have published at least 100 papers indexed by Scopus to qualify for the QS World University Ranking. It should also have published these papers within the past five years of analysis. This criteria checks only research papers of relevant types, once the institution has satisfied the affiliation criteria.

  • Size

If a higher education institution has less than 5,000 students then the QS ranking considers its Citations Per Faculty, Employer Reputation, and Academic Reputation for eligibility.

For this, the institution should be in the top 1,000 for all three performance metrics. If not, the university should score a rank in the Top 900 in at least two metrics, or the Top 800 in at least one metric.

To be eligible for evaluation and get included in the final ranking, the qualifying university must also fulfill other standards. These vary and depend on the sample size and their ranking from the previous year.

To get published in the QS ranking list, a university must rank within the specified limit. This publishing threshold is different for each ranking category. These mainly depend on the quality of available data and the size of the market.


The QS World University Rankings is one of the most trusted and reliable ranking systems for higher education institutions worldwide. It does in-depth research and analysis of university performance using several crucial metrics. One of its major aims is to promote the internationalization of education through global awareness.

It publishes a detailed list of hundreds of colleges, universities, and HEIs and ranks them according to their ability to add value to education. The QS ranking is especially focused on making quality education available for all.

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Prashant Borkar Author:

Prashant Borkar,

Academic Consultant

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