General information on ranking

Name of the ranking QS World University Rankings
Geographical scope Global
Name of person in charge of ranking Ben Sowter
E-mail of person in charge of ranking
Website of the ranking
Publication frequency annual
First year of publication 2004
Most recent year of publication 2023
Date of last update 2023-07-10
Ranking organization Quacquarelli Symonds Ltd (QS)
Website of the methodology

The QS World University Rankings are designed to help prospective students make informed comparisons of leading universities around the world. Based on nine performance indicators, the ranking assesses university performance across four areas: research, teaching, employability, internationalization and sustainability. The following indicators are considered in the ranking:

Academic reputation (30%)

Academic reputation is measured using a global survey, in which academics are asked to identify the institutions where they believe the best work is currently taking place within their own field of expertise. The aim is to give prospective students a sense of the consensus of opinion within the international academic community. 

Employer reputation (15%)

This metric is based on almost 50,000 responses to the QS Employer Survey, and asks employers to identify those institutions from which they source the most competent, innovative, effective graduates. The QS Employer Survey is the world’s largest of its kind. Its purpose is to give students a better sense of how universities are viewed in the graduate jobs market.

Faculty-to-student ratio (10%)

This is a simple measure of the number of academic staff employed relative to the number of students enrolled. In the absence of an international standard by which to measure teaching quality, this indicator is the most effective proxy metric for it. This indicator assesses the extent to which institutions are able to provide students with meaningful access to lecturers and tutors, and recognizes that a high number of faculty members per student will reduce the teaching burden on each individual academic. 

Citations per faculty (20%)

This indicator aims to assess universities’ research impact. To calculate this metric, QS takes the total number of citations received by all papers produced by an institution across a five-year period by the number of faculty members at that institution. A five-year publication window for papers is used and a look at a six-year citation window is taken, reflecting the fact that it takes time for research to be effectively disseminated. All citations data is sourced using Elsevier’s Scopus database, the world’s largest repository of academic journal data. 

International faculty ratio (5%); international student ratio (5%)

A highly international university demonstrates an ability to attract faculty and students from across the world, which in turn suggests that it possesses a strong international brand.The last two indicators aim to assess how successful a university has been in attracting students and academics from other countries. This is based on the proportion of international students and faculty members at the institution. Each of these indicators contributes 5% to the overall ranking results.

International Research Network (5%)

It is a measure of global engagement, and specifically on how institutions create and sustain research partnerships with other institutions across borders to collaborate on solving the world's challenges and disseminate vital research to wider audiences. 

The IRN adapts the Margalef Index, widely used in the environmental sciences, to estimate the richness of  international research partners for a given institution. IRN Index reflects the ability of institutions to diversify the geography of their international research network by establishing repeated research partnerships with other higher education institutions. It also reflects the efficiency of this as QS looks at the diversity of partner locations against the efforts needed to achieve such a diversity. Specifically, the QS International Research Network (IRN) Index is calculated with the following formula:

IRN Index = L / ln(P), **, where P is the distinct count of international partners (higher education institutions) and L is the distinct count of international locations represented by them.

Employment outcomes (5%)

For this, two metrics, widely known from our QS Graduate Employability Rankings, have been combined: Graduate Employment Rate and Alumni Impact.

Graduate Employment Rate is defined as the percentage of graduates who go on to paid (non-voluntary) work within 15 months of finishing their degree. We consider any mode of employment (full-time or part-time), even if unknown. We do not consider graduates who are on voluntary or unpaid work, continuing further study, or unavailable for work due to military service, disability, travel, or caring needs. This leads to the following definition of Graduate Employment Rate:

Headcount of employed students / (Headcount of employed students + Headcount of unemployed students) * 100,

where employed students are those with the above mentioned modes of employment.

Alumni Impact - this indicator seeks to shine a light on which institutions are producing impactful graduates in all walks of life, from performing arts to finance, medicine to politics. 

Sustainability (5%)

Starting from the 2024 edition of the QS World University Rankings, QS was proud to include a new 5% Sustainability indicator as part of the evolved methodology. This makes QS the first of the major rankings to incorporate Sustainability into the flagship rankings table, helping to emphasize the importance of this topic to students, institutions and the wider sector. The score for this component was taken from the analysis of the 1st edition of the standalone Sustainability Rankings.

Additional information

  • Type of publication: internet, mobile application, print - special publication
  • Internet users access to ranking: open access
  • Language of publication: English
  • Main target groups: employers, higher education institutions, policymakers, governments and funding agencies, students and parents
  • Level of comparison: institutional: 1500
  • Major dimensions covered: employability, internationalization, reputation, research, teaching, sustainability
  • Structure of presentation: ordinary presentation (league tables)
  • Data sources: data collected from HEIs by ranking organization, survey conducted exclusively by ranking organization, third-party database (data not provided by HEI)
  • Quality assurance of ranking: advisory board, certification (e.g. IREG Audit)
  • Website of the ranking organization:
  • Types of the ranking organization: commercial/for-profit (incl. media)
  • Types of rankings: global