QS World University rankings for study abroad

Are you planning to study abroad for a PG or Doctorate program? Have you heard about QS World University Rankings? Wondering how you can use them to choose a study abroad destination? Check out this page for details. Here you will find a brief description about the ranking system, the top universities in the 2015-16 list and how these rankings are calculated. In the later sections you can find details about choosing a University for study abroad.

Are you planning to study abroad and wondering how to start? Then right here, you will get information about what is QS world University Rankings and how you can use it for making a choice of University and country for study abroad.


QS world University Rankings rankings were first introduced in 2004 and are annually published by Times Higher Education. It is the a comprehensive evaluated list of the best 800+ universities across the world. The ranking describes a global comparison based on core mission of the universities and specific criteria including teaching, research knowledge transfer, internationalization and outlook. The rankings are widely accepted and trusted by all stakeholders comprising of prospective students, academicians, faculty, industry, and even the government. You can use them like a handbook or a Bible to choose the university abroad.

Performance Indicators for World University Ranking

Any evaluation need well defined criteria and corresponding rubrics. The ranking criteria is based on areas of research, teaching, employability and internationalization. The assessment inputs includes hard data and results of major global surveys carried out among academicians and employers. The performance indicators are carefully calibrated and the entire assessment is a comprehensive balanced comparison of the above mentioned criteria. The details of the criteria are:
  • Academic reputation-40%: A global survey is carried out among academicians in common fields of expertise and the consensus of opinions are arrived at. The regional weightage is also taken into account. You may as well imagine the mammoth amount of data collected in the surveys. It goes beyond 75000+ responses in the span of the past 5 years.
  • Employer reputation-10% : 44000+ responses are taken per year to find out which university produces the best graduates. More weightage is given if employers prefer graduates from a university outside their own country.
  • Student faculty ratio-20%: This ratio looks at the employed staff versus the total number of students enrolled in the university. As you well know, a small class size is an indicator of better individual supervision and strengthens the teaching learning process.
  • Citations per faculty-20%: This is a measure of the university's research impact. Citations mean how many times a research work is cited in another research work. When the research work is cited more, then it is more influential and implies the presence of stronger research environment in the university. This criteria is based on Scopus, the world's largest database of research abstracts and uses 5 years of citation data. The total citation count is in relation to the number of academic faculty and hence university size does not matter.
  • International faculty ratio-5% and International student ratio-5%: Both these criteria indicate how a university is successful in attracting students and faculty from across borders.

Performance Indicators for Asian Universities

There is also an Asia ranking for all those who want to study abroad in Asian countries. The criteria is slightly different and includes:
  • Academic reputation 30%
  • Employer reputation 30%
  • Faculty Student ratio 20%
  • Citations per paper 15%
  • Papers per faculty 15%
  • Proportion of international faculty 2.5% and Proportion of international students 2.5%
  • Proportion of inbound exchange students 2.5% and Proportion of outbound exchange students 2.5%

Performance Indicators for Best Student City

Another international ranking is the Best Student City. The criteria includes number of universities in the city, affordability-tuition fees, lifestyle, employment prospects- domestic and international , and the student community . The scores have been recently modified to include pollution, safety, transparency, tolerance, Eco Global Liveability ranking and corruption . The performance indicators includes a compilation of Big Mac Index-for retail pricing, Ipad Index provided by CommuSec and Mercer Cost of Living. A pre requisite to nominate for the Best Student city assessment includes a minimum population of 250,000 and at least two higher education universities to be present in the QS list.

World University Ranking of 2015-16

The 2015-16 Ranking is done for 800+ universities in 70+ countries while the stats of 2014-15 includes 400+ universities in 40+ countries. The names of Universities and the country as listed below as per this year's Ranking:
  • 1 Caltech-US
  • 2 Oxford -UK
  • 3 Stanford-US
  • 4 Cambridge-UK
  • 5 MIT-US
  • 6 Harvard-US
  • 8 Imperial College of London UK
  • 9 Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich Switzerland: For the first time a non US and UK university is in the top 10 list. The inclusion is commendable and was focused on a successful strategy by maintaining core values, adapting to the new environment, facing the challenges head on, evolving new approaches to research and teaching, encouraging autonomy, and encouraging researchers to take risks
  • 10 University of Chicago-US

From the QS World University Ranking2015-16 it is evident that Universities in Europe are improving by the day in all aspects. Currently 78 European universities are in the list of 800 and 34 universities in the first 200 ones. These include universities from countries like UK, Germany, Netherlands, and Switzerland. Three German universities are in the top 50 list: LMU Berlin, Heidelberg University and Humboldt University of Berlin. Studies revealed that all of them have well designed excellence initiatives. NUS, Singapore stands 26th, while universities from China- Peking University and Tsinghua University stand in the top 50. Incidentally rankings of universities of Japan and Korea have dropped and are evident from University of Tokyo ranking 43rd. But overall, the ranking is a good indicator of the teaching and research environment of international universities.

How to use the ranking

QS World University Rankings are well known and trusted by the stakeholders and will be useful to students and parents to invest for their child's education in the best university across the world. The Ranking is carried out for five distinct faculties: Arts and Humanities, Engineering and Technology, Life sciences and Medicine, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and Management.

So if you are looking out for study abroad information in any of the above faculties then you must check out these rankings. These are available online and can be sorted by region, country, performance indicators, and subject areas. The performance indicators used for ranking cover the spectrum of factors deciding the quality of the university's research and teaching processes. The indicators include faculty student ratio, global reputation of a university, total resources internationalization- mix on campus, links to business, and research excellence. A detailed study of the ranking table helps in making a judicious decision and an informed choice of university. What more can a prospective student or the parent want apart from having a strong desire to study abroad? The interactive ranking table is authentic and well researched and will provide with all the answers in one space and under one roof.

In conclusion the QS World University Ranking can be used like a handbook or a Bible to choose the university abroad.

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