On 1st July 2017, Carrie Lam, the first female Chief Executive of Hong Kong quoted 2 QS rankings in her inauguration speech in front of China President Xi Jinping and 2,000 VIP guests to highlight 20 years education achievements of HK since its handover to China.
In her inaugural speech, Lam vowed to repay the trust and support of the people and the central government’s support with “with diligence and achievements”.
She said, “On this important day marking the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the Motherland, and as witnessed by all here present, I have been sworn in by the President of the People’s Republic of China as the fifth-term Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. It is with a humble heart that I accept this greatest honour of my life and prepare to take on the greatest challenge in my public service career. Over the next five years I will respond to the trust and support placed in me by the people of Hong Kong and the Central People’s Government with diligence and achievements of the governing team under my leadership”.
When reflecting on the achievements HK has achieved in the past 20 years returning to China, she said:
“Hope propels a society forward, and confidence is the foundation of hope. We have no reason to lose confidence if we look closely and rationally at what we have achieved over the past two decades since our return to the Motherland”. She started to list all the achievements HK has got on its economy, finance, an the rule of law and safety. She concluded this section by quoting 2 QS universities rankings to highlight the education achievements of HK since returning to China in 1997:
“Five of our universities rank among the world’s top 100, and the Faculty of Dentistry of the University of Hong Kong is the best dental school in the world”.
Dr. Christina Yan Zhang, China Director, QS Intelligence Unit, said, “It is a tremendous honour to hear that 2 QS university rankings was quoted by the new Chief Executive of HK in her inauguration speech, as the only benchmark, to prove 20 years education achievement of HK since handover to China. HK is one of the best place in the world for higher education. I look forward to the opportunity to working more closely with each of the HK university and the government in further strengthening their international competitiveness across all key subjects areas!”
On 8th June 2017, Dr. Christina Yan Zhang, China Director, QS Intelligence Unit, said in an interview with Ta Kung Pao, the oldest active Chinese language newspaper in China, that “Three out of five Hong Kong Universities which are ranked within the global top 100 were established less than 50 years ago. That is mainly due to HK’s unique advantage of geographic location and prosperity of its economy. HK have been able to cultivated some of the world’s best universities in a short time with its big research impact, strong innovation, truly international environment, and the ability to attract some of the top talents from around the world. Its influence is increasingly felt globally. The Dentistry of Hong Kong University has twice been ranked as the world’s No.1 has again demonstrated the unrivalled world-class excellence of Hong Kong higher education system. Hong Kong Universities are going to continue its leading position in more cutting-edge subjects soon“.
The full inauguration speech can be found here.
Or 2%. Or 5% or whatever seems appropriate
Amongst the coverage of today’s QS World University Rankings was a fascinating piece on the BBC. – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-40187452. Amongst many universities, the University of Reading have been claiming status as a “world’s top 1%” university, and this claim has been challenged via a complaint made to the Advertising Standard Agency (ASA).
It’s natural that universities would want to use our data to help their marketing messages stand out from the crowd, and many do, but they should probably be careful to have a well thought through basis for claims such as this. Thankfully, it’s not all that difficult to work the logic through with a bit of web research, some simple arithmetic and some sensible assumptions.
Reading placed 188th in the world in this year’s QS ranking, which enables them to comfortably claim a position amongst the top 20% of institutions in the published QS ranking, but the big question is, what percentage of the world’s universities are covered by the ranking, and to play Devil’s Advocate, with what degree of confidence can we declare those to be the correct institutions to include.
So let’s begin with the most elusive question, just how many universities are there in the world? At a UNESCO event in Paris in 2011, this questions was raised and to all there assembled the quick conclusion was that 20,000 was a conservative estimate.
- I have heard claim that there are over 7,000 in Latin America alone, the Brazilian Ministry of Education recognise over 2,368 in Brazil alone.
- According to National Center for Education Statistics the were 4,352 degree-granting universities in the US in 2008
- There are today over 800 universities 39,000 recognised by the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
- According to CIS Abroad there were 2,236 colleges and universities in China at the end of 2004.
- In 2010, there were 778 universities in Japan
- According to the Commission on Higher Education, there are 1,943 higher education institutions in the Philippines
- A variety of corroborating sources confirm that there are at least 500 universities in Russia
- There are 380 officially recognised universities in Germany
- There are 43 national and around 180 private universities in South Korea according to a profile on the Complete University Guide
- There are 109 state and 61 private universities in Turkey according to official sources cited by Wikipedia
- According to Universities UK there were 164 HEIs in the UK in 2015
- The Ranking Web of World Universities on webometrics.info features 26,368 institutions (www.webometrics.info)
The reality is that, were it possible to determine the exact global number of higher education institutions, it would most likely be in excess of 40,000. So to use the Webometrics count of 26,000 – especially given that Webometrics features only 3,280 institutions in the US, 4,004 in India, 266 in the Philippines and 1,507 in Brazil.
All in all, this presents a picture where 26,000 is a conservative estimate and can be used safely and confidently for calculating percentage ranges in which institutions might fall. We can essentially say, with 100% confidence, that there are, at least, 26,000 higher education institutions in the world
So, that leaves a question about how confident we are that the 959 ranked institutions in our list are, indeed, the top 959, without having ranked all 26,000. We survey academics and employers globally and base our analysis on well over 100,000 survey responses. The ever-evolving list of institutions featured in our surveys currently feature 4,854 universities but our survey allows respondents to list institutions they can’t find and we periodically review their suggestions to evolve the list. We’ve being doing this for 14 years now so can be increasingly confident that we’re not missing universities which deserve to be in the top 1,000 for our reputation metrics.
To screen institutions for inclusion in the final list, we look to the top performers in our regional rankings, we look at their reputation performance in both surveys and we track their performance in Scopus. Each year we examine the data of a list of potential candidate institutions and the list gets a little longer. Once an institution is in the list on merit, they stay in. The QS World University Rankings are not an opt-in ranking – we work hard to rank all deserving institutions – so we can be confident with a low margin of error that the top 500 is actually the top 500 we would arrive at if we had the capacity to evaluate all 26,000. This year five new entries came directly into the top 500, last year there were seven. A 5% error margin more than accounts for the average discover rate in the top 500 and a 3% error margin for the top 200.
So, 188 / 26000 = 0.72%. Can Reading defend the claim that they are within the top 1% of higher education institutions in the world? With a confidence level in excess of 97%, yes, they can… even without a definitive list of the world’s universities. That’s a lot more certainty than many well known advertising slogans have needed over the years.
For any other university currently using a percentage claim in their marketing material, that’s ultimately your final decision, and hopefully the above line of thinking and some of the statistics captured here can help inform and defend it.
With the next edition of QS World University Rankings coming out next week, and fact files distributed to all featured institutions, it seems the moment to talk about one peripheral detail that may have escaped some of our followers.
We have reconfigured our annual rankings cycle, moving things around on the calendar with a view to, once the dust has settled, provide clarity rather than cause confusion. These changes have included:
- Moving the QS World University Rankings forward to June from its traditional home in September
- Pushing the regional rankings back to October from their previous June release
- Moving the employability rankings forward to September to coincide with EAIE
- Confirming our subject rankings for a late February/early-March launch
The landscape has changed dramatically in the 13 years since we first published a ranking, we have organically built out our rankings portfolio without reconfiguring our publication schedule, when we started this we were one of two rankings compilers producing outcomes of a global scope. We are now one of 19. It’s become a crowded calendar.
So… we took a fresh look at our cycle and rebuilt it, thinking about the logical order in which institutions should be encouraged to provide data, providing greater clarity on what inputs are used for what rankings, what events are taking place that can support, or be supported by the rankings releases, when do we feel students are seeking this kind of data most, on average, worldwide.
We have also taken a look at how our results should be labelled. According to previous protocol, next week’s release would be titled the QS World University Rankings 2017-2018… but we’ve made a decision to abbreviate to the QS World University Rankings 2018 despite the release date being so much earlier. It’s easier for badging and logo purposes and slices out five characters for tweet-friendly messaging – even more if we go down to QSWUR2018 – and we anticipate some SEO advantages.
As much as anything, though, the selection of which of the two year’s to shorten to has come from the intention to keep data collection periods standard within a data collection cycle – all rankings produced in the 2018 cycle will be plainly labelled as such, and will involve survey responses gathered between 2013 and 2017, articles published between 2011 and 2015 and the citations they have attracted until the end of 2016, and data from universities, ministries and central statistics bodies collected and validated, predominantly, in 2016 and 2017.
Whilst previous years’ results were all formally labelled with two years (i.e. 2016-2017) in abbreviated form they were often shortened to the first of the two years, we haven’t skipped a year, so we’ll be working to retroactively adjust all single year references to the corresponding year reflecting the new policy.
There may be some transitional confusion, but in a society that has become accustomed to routinely receiving subscription magazines well over a month before the date reflected on the cover, I suspect our followers will quickly adapt, and the resulting clarity will only help.
The results of the QS World University Rankings 2018 will be published on www.topuniversities.com on June 8.
Happy New Year!
The QS World University Rankings by Subject, by far the richest global measure of higher education performance, have just been published for the seventh time. They contain details of university standing in 46 subjects, four of them new this year.
The subjects analysed in these rankings cover the vast majority of academic teaching and research. The rankings include a total of 13,930 positions, making them a uniquely valuable resource for students seeking the best place to fulfil their educational ambitions.
The four new subjects for 2017 are Anatomy, previously ranked within our overall Medicine ranking; Hospitality and Leisure Management; Sports-related subjects; and Theology, Divinity, and Religious Studies. The addition of Anatomy means that we now rank the Medical and Life Sciences in nine separate categories, ranging from Agriculture to Dentistry. Top for Anatomy are the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, followed by McGill in Canada.
Like our established ranking of the performing arts, our new ranking of Hospitality and Leisure management offers a fascinating glimpse of institutions which would not normally figure in a global university ranking. Number one here is the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, making its only appearance anywhere in these tables. The top 20 also contains six specialist hospitality institutions based in Switzerland.
Our new ranking of Sports-related Subjects assesses both the medical and physiological aspects of sport and its management. Its inclusion reflects the vast professionalisation of sport in recent years. Loughborough in the UK is top of this league. It is the alma mater of many leading UK athletes, and its present and former students collected 34 medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics and Paralympics. Sydney and Queensland, both in Australia, take the next two places.
Most of the top universities for Theology, Divinity, & Religious Studies are ancient establishments, often with a history as religious foundations. Our leading institution for religion, Harvard, is even named after a priest, its founder John Harvard.
The methodology remains identical to that used in 2016, allowing a direct comparison with last year’s results. The first two elements we use to produce them are the opinions of academics and employers around the world, using the surveys that are also the core of our overall World University Rankings. The Academic Survey measures which universities are regarded as top for scholarship and research by informed colleagues around the world. Our Employer Survey simply asks where recruiters find the best graduates. We place a higher weight on the opinion of employers who hire graduates in specific disciplines than we do those who hire across the full range of subjects.
To these two measures we add a further two which reward the production of original knowledge. One asks how often papers in specific subjects in the scholarly literature are cited by other researchers around the world, a standard measure of research impact. The other is the H-Index, a measure of the breadth and depth of scholarly publishing. If the University of Xanadu has published 19 papers on chemistry with at least 19 citations each, its H-Index for chemistry is 19.
Our findings confirm the overall world dominance of big, old universities in Europe and North America, but it also contains some surprises. Singapore has two top-10 institutions for Materials Science, confirming the success of Singapore’s heavy investment in this technology. And as in previous years, we find that Cape Town is a world top-10 university for Development Studies. It is one of five South African universities in the top 100 for this subject, and they are joined by institutions in Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mexico and Uganda.
QS Advisory Board
The 14th edition of the QS World University Rankings will be published later this year. While the overall shape of the publication will be familiar to almost anyone reading these words, there is one big change.
We have decided to publish this year’s Rankings in the first full week of June, thus breaking with our long-established practice of releasing the Ranking in September.
There are a number of reasons for the change, which has been discussed and approved by the Global Academic Advisory Board for the rankings. One important consideration is that September is a crowded time for academics and students as they return from the summer, at least in the Northern hemisphere. We want potential students to have enough time to make use of our work.
Despite this new timetable, there is still time for academics reading this to influence this essential resource for millions of students. Our annual survey of academic opinion is open and you are welcome to apply to take part. Get started here:
Complete, accepted responses will be used for the World University Rankings and for other QS publications such as our rankings by subject.
The 2017 rankings will use the same six criteria used for earlier rankings: academic and employer opinion, faculty/student ratio, citations per faculty member, and international faculty and students. But there is one change, intended to augment the quality of our citations measure. In past years, we have used a five-year data window for both our publishing and citations metric. From now on, we will be using publications data for five years with a one-year time lag, in this case from 2011 to 2015, and citations for six years, 2011-2016 in the present year.
We are making this change because few papers are cited when they are very new. Thus, the five years of citations we have hitherto used were in fact little better than four. This change will enhance the validity of the findings, allowing new and transformative research the time necessary to see itself disseminated throughout the academic community. In particular, it will increase our awareness of citations in subjects outside the sciences and medicine. The arts, humanities and social sciences often have a much slower citations cycle than these fast-moving, publish-or-perish fields.
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.