US ranked world’s best national system for higher education provision
QS’s new ranking assesses nations providing best environment for university success
London, 18th May 2016: QS Quacquarelli Symonds, global higher education analysts, have today released the 2016 instalment of the Higher Education System Strength (HESS) rankings. The ranking, which aims to identify the best national environments for higher education institutions, sees four European nations among the world’s top 10. The United States’ higher education system ranks in first place, ahead of the United Kingdom’s and Germany’s. France (6th) and the Netherlands (7th) join them among the top 10.
The rankings represent a new attempt to use university rankings performance alongside other metrics to assess the strengths and weaknesses of a country’s higher education environment. In doing so, they aim to assist governmental bodies charged with improving their nation’s higher education system to benchmark against competitor nations.
Other key results include:
- The United States leads the 2016 instalment, with Canada (5th) the other top-10 North American nation;
- Three of the world’s top 10 are Asian – China (8th), South Korea (9th), and Japan (10th);
- The Latin American nation with the strongest higher education environment is Argentina (18th); it is the only Latin American nation placing within the top 20;
- Africa’s best-performing nation is South Africa, in 30th;
- 50 countries are ranked this year across six continents;
- Europe is more featured than any other continent, with 22 of its nations providing a top-50 higher education institution.
The pilot edition of the Rankings applies QS’s new innovative approach, intending to take the discussions on employability rankings to the next level. Stanford leads this first edition; more than 20 new institutions place in the top 50.
Employability has been a hot topic for the Higher Education industry for years. With far easier access to a far broader selection of universities, it became an even more relevant aspect of students’ decision making. QS has been measuring employability in all of its rankings, with our Employer Reputation Survey running for over 20 years. But given the public’s special interest in this topic, it was time to expand the analysis, step out of the comfort zone, and create a new, specific ranking.
The primary aim of the QS Graduate Employability Rankings is to help students make informed choices for their educational futures based specifically on the ability of their chosen university to help them succeed in the employment market. Thorough research conducted over the course of 13 months saw consultation with, and input from, academics, university representatives, companies, students and alumni. This year’s experimental methodology was extensively refined throughout the year, and we are delighted to have introduced – for the first time ever in our rankings – unique metrics such as graduate employment rate and university partnerships with employers.
The twelfth edition of the QS World University Rankings is now online.
We pride ourselves on keeping the Rankings methodology as stable as possible, so that the results provide a genuine year-on-year comparison of the world’s top universities. But this year we have made a few improvements, one of them especially important, to our methodology.
The significant change we have made concerns our measure of academic paper citations per faculty member. This accounts for 20 per cent of each university’s possible rankings score. As before, we have used five years of publications data from the Scopus database as the foundation for this figure. However, we have long recognised that this approach favours institutions with a substantial commitment to the Life Sciences and Medicine, which account for 49 per cent of the citations in Scopus.
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.
The methodology used to create the World University Rankings uses six robust measures which encapsulate the principal activities of global higher education. These measures are unchanged for the new 2015/16 Rankings. But as we explain here, the use we make of the data we collect has been improved markedly this year.
The first two of these measures involve asking informed people to identify the high points of the world university system. We do this by means of two annual surveys, one of active academics around the world, and one of recruiters. The academics are asked what their subject is and where the top 30 universities are in that field, although they tend to vote for a median of about 20. They cannot vote for their own institution. The employers are asked to name the subject or subjects in which they recruit graduates, and where they like to recruit them. These two measures account for 40 per cent and 10 per cent respectively of each institution’s possible score in this ranking.
The QS Intelligence Unit is proud to announce the future release of a new ranking focusing on employability outcomes for the graduates.
Leonardo Silveira, in charge of the project in London, told Tamara Sredojevic about the QS Graduate Employability Rankings:
What is the QS Graduate Employability Rankings?
The QS Graduate Employability Rankings comes from an extensive research project which has been running since October 2014. This project has aimed to design a new approach and methodology on employability in university rankings.
Following the research project, we are going to launch a first edition this November at the 11th QS-APPLE in Melbourne. As a pilot initiative, this new rankings will not at first alter the other QS University Rankings results.
What initiated the QS Graduate Employability Rankings?
So far, employability has been approached in the most prominent rankings solely by using employer reputation data. But it has also always been one of the main differentiators of the QS University Rankings.
Thereby, after dealing with this subject for many years, we realized there was a huge demand both from students and universities to get in-depth information on employability outcomes after graduation. This is why we decided to create a whole new ranking dedicated to employability. Read more
In December 2014, QS published the first edition of the Emerging Europe and Central Asia (otherwise known as EECA) regional ranking. New? Definitely. Interesting? Certainly. Unexpected? Not at all.
I, myself, come from Eastern Europe and so have first-hand experience of education in that region. Whilst I haven’t studied at a university there, I received primary and best part of my secondary education there. I therefore know that there are very few parts of the world as thorough and as methodical in their teaching philosophy as the educators from Emerging Europe and Central Asia. If there’s one thing this says about them is that these nations take education very seriously and have a thing or two to share with the rest of the world. Read more
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