QS attended International Conference on MOOCs

On 28 January 2014, Dr. Christina Yan Zhang, China Director of QS Intelligence Unit was invited to attend a major international conference in London with senior education leaders around the world to have a discussion on the future of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

This conference is organised by The Observatory on Borderless Higher Education, University of London International Programmes, and Leadership Foundation on Higher Education’s titled ‘MOOCs: What we have learned, emerging themes and what next’, in the Senate House of University of London, UK.


(Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor, UK Open University gave the keynote speech at ‘MOOCs: What we have learned, emerging themes and what next’, in the Senate House of University of London, UK.)

Some of the most influential speakers on MOOCs have confirmed to speak at this high profile conference, including:

Confirmed speakers:

· Professor Sir Adrian Smith, Vice-Chancellor, University of London

· Tim Gore OBE, Director of Global Networks and Communities, University of London International Programmes

· Dr William Lawton, Director, Observatory on Borderless Higher Education

· Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister for Universities & Science, Minister for Universities & Science, Department for Business, Innovations and Skills

· Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor, UK Open University

· Professor Jenny Hamilton, Director, University of London Undergraduate Laws Programme

· Jon Harman, Learning Design & Media Director, College of Law

· Professor Stephen Brown, Professor of Learning Technologies, De Montfort University

· Professor Neil Morris, Chair of Educational Technology, University of Leeds

· Professor Fred Mulder, UNESCO Chair on Open Learning

· Michael Gaebel, Head of Unit, HE Policy, European University Association

· Professor Dinesh Singh, Vice-Chancellor, University of Delhi

· David Lock, Director of International Projects, Leadership Foundation

· Dr Mark Pegg, Chief Executive, Leadership Foundation

· Professor Daphne Koller, Chief Executive, Coursera [via video]

· Will Archer, Chief Executive, i-graduate

· Simon Nelson, CEO, FutureLearn

· Tom Flynn, Vice-President Education, University of Bristol Students’ Union

· Professor Jeff Haywood, Vice Principal Knowledge Management, University of Edinburgh

· Michael Kerrison, Director of Academic Development, University of London International Programmes

· Michel Bernard, Universities Relations Manager, Google

· Stephen Haggard, Education Consultant

· Dr Maren Deepwell, Chief Executive, Association of Learning Technology

· Marielle van der Meer, Minerva Project

· Benjamin Barbon, Reader in English Literature and Digital Education

During the opening session of the conference when Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor, UK Open University gave the keynote speech, Dr. Christina Yan Zhang, China Director, QS Intelligence Unit asked Martin a question on if there has been any research done properly globally on how employers see the future and values of the MOOCs development globally. Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor, UK Open University said Christina asked a great question because currently around the world, most of the empirical research on MOOCs are usually from the views from universities. There s a gap to start to engage employers in this important process.

Dr. Christina Yan Zhang also talked to and met other senior leaders of the conference and discussed potential opportunities for collaborations.


(Dr. Christina Yan Zhang, China Director, QS Intelligence Unit asked Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor, UK Open University a question on if there has been any research done properly globally on how employers see the future and values of the MOOCs development globally. )


(Dr. Christina Yan Zhang, China Director, QS Intelligence Unit talked to old friend Tim Gore OBE, Director of Global Networks and Communities, University of London International Programmes on the opportunity to work closely on promoting on-line education globally)

Christina with Google UK Director

(Dr. Christina Yan Zhang and David Black, Director of Google UK talked about the possibility of participating in QS Global Employer Survey, as well as enjoyed an interesting discussion about the rise of WeChat around the world and reaction from Google about this booming mobile phone based app. )

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(Dr. Christina Yan Zhang, China Director, QS Intelligence Unit met Professor Dinesh Singh, Vice Chancellor and Professor of Mathematics on a discussion of the MOOCs development in India.)


(Dr. Christina Yan Zhang, China Director, QS Intelligence Unit met Professor Fred Mulder, UNESCO Chair on Open Learning and had a discussion about getting QS involved in UNESCO’s work on opening learning)


Iraqi Higher Education – Small steps big leaps

Following on from a short blog entry I posted in early 2010 on Iraqi higher education following the events that have taken place in the last 20 years. A few articles had emerged between 2009 and 2010 and one of the particular articles referred to in the post was the Guardian article on the damage that the events of Iraq did to Science.

It is very clear that Iraqi universities have had to face many challenges in the previous years, with the biggest challenge being security. However, the Iraqi universities are making clear efforts to improve their reputation and performance. An initiative called the Iraqi University Linkage Programs (ULP) promotes higher education reform in Iraq by working with Iraqi faculty and administrators to strengthen university curricula, enhance and update teaching methods and technology, and improve career services for students. Such a program can be a big leap for Iraqi universities, the  University of Baghdad (UB) and Georgia State University (GSU) have already begun a partnership that could lead to many benefits including international recognition, research partnerships, culture exchange amongst a few. An encouraging quote follows from the faculty of the University of Baghdad: “On personal level you feel your whole life has changed. I’m actually able to teach students in a different way, now. Even the way we arrange our classes, for example. We used to just seat students in rows, and we now use a U-shape so that its more interactive.”[1]

Some of the Iraqi universities are beginning to encompass that in order to be a world class university, there’s needs to be a strong focus on several aspects of a university’s performance and Employability is one of the key areas that requires attention. Another positive step is the University of Duhok (UoD)’s first ever public university career fair, which was held in Iraq. Over 550 students and alumni attended the fair, which included booths and presentations by 16 employers active in Iraq. If such an inititive could get the ball rolling for other universities, we may see a direct improvement in graduate employment rates in Iraq.

In 2013, two Iraqi universities participated in the global QS Stars Rating, an audit that evaluated the universities on their performance across a range in eight different categories with an overall star rating.  University of Kufa was one of the two universities that took part in the audit and was the first Iraqi university to receive its 2 Star overall rating, the university achieved an outstanding 5 stars in the following four categories: Teaching; Facilities; Engagement and Access. These results indicate that the university has an excellent teaching standard with a high student satisfaction rate. The University of Babylon is the other university that has also taken the part in QS Stars Rating, with an overall 2 Star rating; University of Babylon achieved a stellar five stars in Teaching and Access with an excellent 4 Star rating for in the Facilities category. The QS Stars rating system can be used a tool for the participating universities, allowing them to assess their weaknesses and strengths and improve in areas of shortfall that have been identified. The two participating universities have already begun to make plans based on their performances to take necessary measures on improving. An area that both universities are likely to begin to planning towards is the Internationalisation area. More information can be found on

Improving the Iraqi Higher Education System will take time and more universities in the county need to participate to strengthen the system as a whole. However the small steps already taken, some of which have been mentioned above are steps in the right direction towards a global standard and regaining the strong reputation that Iraqi Universities lost due to the events that have taken place over the last few decades.

Tightrope Walker

Teaching quality and research influence: how regions compare

The Faculty Student and the Citations per Faculty indicators are two important components of the QS World University Rankings. They are proxies for the teaching quality and the research influence achieved by each evaluated university.

The following scatter charts combine these two indicators, showing how institutions from different regions are performing. The horizontal axis represents ‘Teaching Quality’ while the vertical axis displays the ‘Research Influence’ results. In both cases we used the scores extracted from the 2013 rankings, which can take a value from 1 to 100.
Read more


Motivations for pursuing an MBA degree

The 2012 Applicant Survey attracted more than 4,500 prospective MBA applicants. The results provide detailed insight into the status, attitudes, goals and ambitions of MBA applicants worldwide and how they, and the employment and education markets for young professionals, are changing. This survey allows valuable insight into the changing trends of worldwide MBA applicants.

Global motivations for taking an MBA are still dominated by the desire for career progression and to learn new skills, followed by attaining a leadership position. However, as we delve into regional responses, the results draw very interesting contrasts. The older demographic of respondents to this year’s survey selected fewer options as they are likely to have a clearer picture of why they want to gain an MBA. Read more

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HE News Brief 8.5.12

  • US: Heavy hitters team up to offer free online courses
  • Middle East: Spotlight on  teaching quality
  • Brazil: Affirmative action decision upheld by Supreme Court

Prestigious universities in the States are putting their weight behind free online courses. Harvard and MIT have announced a partnership called edX which will begin enrolment this fall. With 60 million dollars to commence the project, the universities will be offering five courses including classes in engineering and humanities. University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Stanford have also announced a partnership recently called Coursera, which will be offering free online courses. Both MIT and Stanford have already pioneered successful free online course offerings, with MITx enrolling 120,000 students and Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence course signing up 160,00 students.

[alert_blue]Full Story: New York Times[/alert_blue]

At a recent conference in Riyadh concerning ‘World-class teaching universities’, the general director for international affairs at the Saudi Ministry of Higher Education has highlighted a strategy to becoming a top teaching university. Salim Al Malik called for universities to evaluate teaching quality and to set up learning centres to train staff, as well as, to make teaching training a component of postgraduate studies. Universities, he said, are measured too heavily on research alone and that teaching should not be relegated in the pursuit of becoming a world-class institution.

[alert_blue]Full Story: University World News[/alert_blue]

Brazil has upheld sweeping affirmative action policies in higher education which allows a quota for enrolling students of African or indigenous descent. Now the country, which has more people of African descent than any other country outside Africa, is starting to tackle the economic and social divides that many are saying are linked to racial politics. Supporters of the bill say that they hope this policy will not only tackle social issues but help bridge the learning gap necessary for job creation.

[alert_blue]Full Story:[/alert_blue]