HEW Newsletter – Foreword to the September 2015 Edition

Innovation is one of the themes that many of those seeking broader global rankings of universities would like to be able to include.

The most comprehensive attempt to capture this slightly elusive quality was published last week by Thomson Reuters. The company used ten metrics to measure universities’ success in innovation, and produced a global top 100.

The ranking was dominated by US universities with a reputation in this field, unlike a first attempt at measuring innovation by Times Higher Education magazine, which placed Russian and Chinese universities top of two of their four preliminary rankings. The other two were from Germany and Belgium, the latter sharing top place for ‘paper citations’ with a US research institute. Read more


HEW Newsletter – Rankings Results 2015/16: An Overview

Despite the improved methodology described elsewhere in this issue of Higher Education World, the 2015/16 QS World University Ranking agree with last year’s on one thing: the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is the world’s top university. It has near-perfect scores on five of our six measures, and comes 62nd in the world on the other, its percentage of international students.

The stability of these rankings is also evident from the fact that the same institutions fill the top eight places in the Ranking as last year, although MIT is the only one in the same position. The most spectacular move affects Imperial College, London. It is down from second to eighth place, largely because of a 59-place fall in its citation per faculty member count. This is likely to be due mainly to the reduced emphasis that we now place upon excellence in biomedicine.

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本 索特





  1. “QS排行榜,早在2004年和2006年,就已经把北京大学排名为全球高校的第17名和第14名,远超耶鲁大学


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Latin American students are committed to improving their countries

This year, QS started an insight project into the motivations of prospective international students. The first few places we’ve travelled to have all been in Europe and just last week we went truly global – having taken a 12 hour flight to Mexico City.

Mexico City is notorious for having some of the busiest international education fairs, as is Bogota, so that was our destination number two. Naturally, visiting only two out of 20 countries in the region doesn’t give us the authority to speak for the whole of Latin America, but it did provide us with a very interesting taster. We further suspect our findings might be somewhat reflective of the Latin American spirit, as Colombian and Mexican students seemed to have one thing in common – they both feel really strongly about improving their respective countries.

Interacting with students from these countries was indeed eye-opening, as we just hadn’t expected them to be so different from European students.

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Universities get ready for 2015/16 intake of motivated students

The 2015 A-level results indicate that more students have taken up Maths, English, Biology with a sharp increase in those that have taken Computing. UCAS University admissions says that there are 409’000 places this year with 13,415 more female entrants than in 2014 widening the gender gap.

Transferwise, the international peer to peer money transfer service, did a study where they analysed a number of students and parents from across the UK, US, Germany and France. 89% of French student and 69% of German students felt that studying abroad would give them better career prospects. However fewer students in the UK are willing to study abroad, despite many parents actually encouraging the move. 51% of these students that said they do not wish to study abroad said because their main concern would be running out of money, whilst 32 per cent said they would be concerned by a language barrier.  A large proportion of the students also indicated how that they would rather head to the US than Germany, despite Germany having some of the most prestigious institutions in Western Europe.

According to the QS Intelligence Unit’s report “How do Students use Ranking?” one of the question that the students were asked was “What are the benefits of attending an internationally recognised university?” 69% of UK students recognise that the benefit of attending an internationally recognised university will be for better employment prospects and selected this as their first choice. This is well within reach in the UK itself, with almost 20 UK universities featuring in the top 100 in the QS World University Rankings. The survey also asked the same questions to students in France 61% of them selected Employment Prospects as their first choice in the importance of an internationally recognised university and 53% selected connections worldwide as their second choice of importance.

Despite the high debts that this year’s graduates have accrued, this has not been a deterrent for students wanting to enter university. The BBC’s Branwen Jeffreys: “For the first time there is no limit on university recruitment”.  It is clear that students are more driven to future improved employment prospects than ever before, with many students overseas travelling abroad to do so, and other staying in their home town despite the possibility of falling into future debt. This is a positive message for universities, a message that indicates that universities should continue to improve connections with employers and continue to invest in careers advisors to help students have a clearer path of their life after university. See below a video of a previous interviewing session with young students and their opinion on Employability and the importance of it:



BRICS banner 2015

QS University Rankings: BRICS 2015 released

I’m pleased to announce that the third edition of the QS University Rankings: BRICS, which compares the Top 200 institutions in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, is now live on

Why a BRICS University Rankings?

 The five BRICS countries represent over 2.9  billion people, or approximately 40% of the world population;

One in three students in the world today live in one of the BRICS nations.

They have a combined nominal GDP of over US$16 trillion, equivalent to approximately 20% of the gross world product.

The BRICS nations share a desire to grow in economic and political importance without copying the Western model of development.

This ranking show how this ambition is being reflected in their university systems.

The New Development Bank (NDB) or the BRICS Bank officially opened for business on Tuesday with an initial capital of $100 billion.

Plans are underway to establish a BRICS Network University, an initiative that will enable universities in the group to jointly develop and teach courses and facilitate the mutual recognition of qualifications and the transfer of credits between participating institutions.

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Elsevier renews agreement to support QS on rankings activities

Partnership between Elsevier, a world-leading provider of information solutions, and QS began in 2007. We are delighted to announce that we have just made a decision to renew our long-term collaboration! QS was the first compiler of global university rankings to use data from Elsevier’s Scopus, the world’s largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed academic literature, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Scopus data is used for almost all of our rankings, starting from QS World University Rankings to our regional rankings, including the new initiatives such as the Arab and the EECA rankings.

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Rankings – What Do The Students Think?

We were celebrating the 10-year anniversary of QS World University Rankings® last September, marking 10 editions of one of the most sought-after rankings in the world. Who’s interested? Academics, university leadership, media organisations, governments – and, of course, students.

Whilst it may be evident that rankings are growing in popularity and influence (QS is certainly not the only organisation to produce rankings either) and although we know millions of students consult the rankings every year, it is unclear how they use them and just what the impact is. Given the primary audience we compile our rankings for is prospective international students, we set off on a research project to answer these questions.

This new report initiated by the QS Intelligence Unit, unambiguously titled ‘How Do Students Use Rankings?’, explores student motivations when selecting a university, with a view to better understanding the role rankings play in the journey from being a perspective student to becoming a graduate.

How important is the rank of an institution compared with other factors such as course specification, location and student experience?
• Why study abroad and in an internationally recognised institution?
• How are you choosing what and where to study?

These are some of the questions we asked the students we met at QS international education fairs. The trends presented in the report are primarily based on a series of 11 focus groups held in London, Paris, Milan, Rome and Moscow, involving a total of 71 prospective students. We additionally ran a survey, collecting 519 responses, which allowed us to provide a balanced perspective based on a mix of qualitative and quantitative data.

Our findings were enlightening, yet completely in line with what one would expect to be on a prospective student’s mind. Whilst students shared a variety of ways in which they use the rankings and a wide range of priorities, when we pushed for the ‘absolute’ driving motivation, they overwhelmingly gave the same answer…

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The role of a university – Kazakhstan and beyond

Whilst the responsibility of a university has always been more than simply educating its students, it’s only recently we began to realise the wider impact universities do and should have on the society around us.

The role of a university is changing
Working in a company that provides insight into university performance, helping higher education institutions from all over the world, this is especially evident. Not so long ago, universities didn’t particularly concern themselves with equipping students with employability skills, as their main function was seen to be providing quality education and ensuring high academic attainment. Now, we expect the best universities to provide tailored careers advice and develop their students not only as sharp critical thinkers, but as skilled future employees too. A recent report produced by QS, How Do Students Use Rankings, further supports this by finding employment prospects to be the leading factor in university choice. This means that it’s not only the biggest concern prospective students have today but also an expectation – attending a top university leads to becoming a highly employable graduate.

Conference in Almaty aimed at bringing universities, science and business closer together
Just a week ago, I visited one of the top universities in Kazakhstan – Al-Farabi Kazakh National University (KazNU). They invited QS to speak at a conference they ran titled ‘Integration of Education, Science and Business’. This was a fantastic initiative and a very important step in any nation’s development. As you can see from the below photo, it generated a lot of interest and was attended by a number of staff, political representatives and university leaders from other Kazakh institutions.

The conference room.

The conference room.

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Malaysian government release a new higher education strategy

In April 2015, the Malaysian Ministry of Higher of education released a 10 year strategy plan, the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025 which took two years to compile. In a video of the prime minister’s speech that discusses the strategy, he discusses the goals and deduces the plan to three main aspects referred to as the three B’s:

  • Bakat(talent): Higher education is to nurture domestic talent and be of a quality that attracts international students from the region.
  • Benchmarking to global standards:Malaysia’s goal is to be in the top one-third of nations in the world for education, and to increase the number of its universities in world rankings such as the QS[i].
  • Balance:Malaysia’s university graduates are to be equipped not only with skills and knowledge, but a moral, “spiritual” context in which to put them to use.[ii]

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education Malaysia – Tan Sri Dato’ Haji Muhyiddin bin Haji Mohd Yassin wrote in the introduction of the document “The Government has set ambitious – but achievable – aspirations to transform the higher education system. These aspirations constitute two aspects: those for the education system as a whole, focusing on access, quality, equity, unity, and efficiency; and those for individual students, covering the six primary attributes – ethics and spirituality, leadership skills, national identity, language proficiency, thinking skills, and knowledge.”

Dato’ Seri Idris Jusoh – Minister of Education II also mentions “We aspire to create a higher education system that ranks among the world’s leading higher education systems and enables Malaysia to compete globally”

The Exhibit below represents Malaysian universities current positions in both the Global context; QS World University Rankings and where these universities stand in a Regional perspective in the QS University Rankings Asia. Currently five of the Malaysian rankings feature in top 100 in the Asian Rankings, with one of them appearing in the Top 200 Globally, and featuring a further 6 universities throughout the remainder of the Ranking. At the subject area level, Malaysian Universities also demonstrate excellence, with eight universities ranked in the top 200 in at least one subject area.

Exhibit 1

Source: Malaysia Education Blueprint  Report 2015-2025

Malaysia has already shown great improvement in the last 10 years with a 70% increase in student enrolment in Higher Education institutions reaching 1.2 million students. The system will look on building on the following five aspirations:

  • Access
  • Quality
  • Equity
  • Unity
  • Efficiency

Within the Quality aspiration of the report the Ministry aims to place one university in Asia’s Top 25, two in the Global Top 100, and four in the Global Top 200 by 2025. They are also looking to improve Graduate Employability to raise it to over 80%. The system will also change from focusing on university education as the pathway of choice to placing an equal value on both university education and technical and vocational education and training (TVET) pathways.[iii]

Further information can be found in the Malaysia Education Blueprint  Report 2015-2025.

[i] Reference to the QS World University Rankings mentioned in the Blue Print document.


[iii] Malaysia Education Blueprint  Report 2015-2025