What is QS World University Ranking? - A Complete Guide

26 Oct 2023
HR Management System

"The best university to study a Master's degree in Psychology or the best university to pursue post-graduation studies in Engineering" - these are kinds of queries that students search online to find the best institution for their further studies.

Relying solely on friends' or relative’s advice is hardly sufficient; instead, looking into an authentic source that indicates quality education, student support and efficiency is the need of the hour. That is where QS world university rankings come in, allowing students to see the best universities in the world and make their decisions accordingly.

What are the QS World University Rankings?

QS World University Rankings is a top international ranking system that measures the popularity of universities all over the world based on a few critical factors. A leading educational information website (QS) releases rankings and lists every year, which depend upon the following:

  • Surveys
  • Diversity
  • In-depth reports and performance statistics

Why Does the QS Produce the World University Rankings?

"Fragmented and biased" are the words that best describe the information related to educational institutions found online. When most institutes claim to be the best in the industry, it becomes difficult to authenticate.

Therefore, QS ranking aims to eliminate doubts and uncertainties by providing a genuine, data-backed resource to help choose the right university. They have been publishing a list of top-performing universities worldwide since 2004.

With thousands of universities available worldwide, it is necessary to establish a system of comparison to highlight institutes providing high-quality education. As a result, the university selection process becomes easier for students, especially international students.

How has QS Designed its Methodology?

QS has designed the ranking mechanism through a data-backed and research-based process, helping to make the information globally relevant, accessible and stable. Furthermore, QS has consulted with nearly 8000 academics in face-to-face seminars.

The academics authenticated the primary goals of world-class universities, which have been identified after thorough deliberation with university leaders.

The next step included developing a tested and proven mechanism for implementing an expert Peer Review Survey of academic quality. It led to the involvement of statistical and technical experts, helping to ensure the accuracy of the survey design.

In addition, it made sure that the survey design could provide valid results given the fact that the survey design has been developed based on the principles of online political polls.

What is the QS Methodology?

The methodology takes into account six main indicators under four broad categories: the learning and teaching environment, research reputation, research impact, and internationalisation.

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The methodology takes shape with the help of the following methods:

1. Global Academic Reputation Survey

As the name suggests it is a global survey that invites academics to give their views and opinions about which institution has been performing well. The academics/experts highlight the institutes which have been excelling in particular disciplines.

Moreover, the experts collaborate with other academics to gain insight into the information related to research and academic excellence. Their report depends on deliberate discussions through international conferences, and peer review work from other institutes and advisory boards.

2. Employer Reputation Survey

The survey enables to ask global employers a crucial question, related to the institutions that supply the best graduates in their workplaces. Then, the QS ranking procedure balances the views accordingly by emphasising the academic reputation survey at 40 per cent.

On the other hand, the views from the employer reputation survey at 10 per cent.

3. Research Impact

The ranking procedure provides equal focus on the research impact; it does so by identifying the citations per faculty indicator, weighted at 20 per cent. This particular step works by measuring the volume of citations achieved on average by the academic staff at the institution.

Besides, the higher volume of citations means that the particular institution’s academics have been publishing in top-quality journals. Additionally, it also indicates that they have been engaging in strategic collaboration and researching critical topics that lead to a wider readership.

4. Faculty- Student Ratio Indicator

This is a vital indicator that measures the teaching and learning facilities of the university by dividing the number of students by the faculty staff number. The calculation is fairly simple; the more academic staff available per student reflects the institute’s availability of resources.

For instance, it indicates that the institute gives equal focus to adequate instructional approaches applied by teachers, adherence to updated curriculum framework, etc. Therefore, this metric allows the students to check the institute’s resources in terms of :

  • Lecture and adequate teaching and learning facilities, including modern apps and systems such as higher education ERP
  • Curriculum Design
  • Assessment Mechanisms
  • Student support system

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5. Internationalisation

The International Student Ratio and International Faculty Ratio are the two metrics that account for 5 per cent each, leading to the final measurement of 100 per cent. This is the final and crucial indicator that allows the students to assess internationalisation in education.

To put it simply, it allows one to determine the diversity of students on campus and whether or not it provides adequate support services to international students and teachers.

QS World University Rankings 2024

The 20th edition of the QS World University Rankings (2024) includes 1500 institutions across 104 locations. It is a one-of-a-kind ranking mechanism that highlights three new metrics: sustainability, employment outcomes and international research network.


Sustainability is no longer a discussion limited to news channels or environmental conventions; it is one of the most significant issues that students expect institutions to consider. For instance, the QS International Student Survey 2020 indicates that 80 per cent of students think universities are capable of doing more for the environment.

Therefore, the QS ranking has added a five per cent weight sustainability lens to their flagship world ranking.

Employment Outcomes

What is the percentage of students who can get employment opportunities after completing their post-graduation from a university? This is a question that the raking system strives to answer by boosting the weight of ‘’Employer Reputation’’ to 15 per cent and adding Employment outcomes at five per cent.

International Research Network

The third new metric is the international research network, which allows one to see whether the institute’s research work is internationally connected. Therefore, it provides insight into the importance of collaborative research.

Final Thoughts,

The QS World University Rankings is the ranking of universities conducted by QS depending on thorough research, surveys from academic experts, and accurate data. The ranking process stresses critical indicators that ensure excellent institutional performance.

Moreover, the methodology incorporates indicators changes and a consultation process to publish an updated list of high-quality universities every year.

Gaurav Somani Author :

Gaurav Somani,

Academic Consultant

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