Use of “web metrics” to evaluate universities

There are a number of different takes on how to evaluate universities out there. The most inclusive of these seems to be to use web metrics, this is most notably applied through Webometrics Ranking Web of Universities and through the more one-dimensional 4icu.

Due to their inclusiveness, Webometrics looks at over 20,000 institutions, we frequently refer to these sources when we consider the validity of inclusion of new institutions in our lists and tables, amongst other considerations. I have some misgivings about these measures at the top of the table – asserting that MIT is stronger than Harvard because more rich files can be found on their website or because more sites link there this year seems a little academic. Also at a global level there is such an overwhelming emphasis on English – in Webometrics there are only 4 institutions in the top 50 from countries where the prevalent language is something other than English.

However, were we looking at a region where no country has an overt advantage towards English – such as Latin America, or Arabic countries the results may be more discerning. In this context, the volume of content in English could be seen as a measure of openness and international influence and since all subject institutions would have equal advantage this may have merit – particulalry in parts of the world where databases and institutional systems may not be as sophisticated as others and comprehensive data may not be available.

Next month, QS is due to publish its inaugural QS University Rankings – Latin America and we have been given unique access to Webometrics results for the region to examine whether or not they could work as an effective indicator in that context.

The current thinking is, that if we strip out the Google Scholar component, as it arguably overlaps with our analysis of Scopus, we may have an interesting input.

Comments and input welcome.

2011 QS World University Rankings® by Subject: Social Sciences

by Danny Byrne

The QS World University Rankings® for Social Sciences completes the first comprehensive set of international rankings at subject level, with 26 disciplines now covered in total. The final batch covers some of the most popular undergraduate degree subjects, many of which have a direct connection to the world of work: Accounting and Finance, Economics, Law, Politics and International Studies, Statistics and Operational Research, and Sociology.

As in the other QS World University Rankings® by Subject, the rankings are based on academic reputation, employer reputation, and research citations. Given the professional application of subjects such as Law and Economics, and the relative lack of published research in journals in comparison to other discipline, employer opinion has been given a significant emphasis in the weightings of the social sciences rankings. The results confirmed that employers have a particular interest in social sciences graduates; the most sought-after graduates among global employers were those in Business, Engineering, Accountancy and Finance, and Economics, two of which fall within the social sciences.

Within the social sciences, employers demonstrated their high regard for London School of Economics and Political Sciences (LSE), and the results suggest that the university can hold its own with Oxford and Cambridge in the areas in which it specializes. The university’s applied emphasis is obviously successful in producing work-ready graduates, as LSE was ranked in the top five by employers in four of the six Social Sciences subjects. The university ranks in the top ten overall in five of the six subjects, with particular strengths coming in Politics and Economics, in which it ranks 4th.

However, the dominant force at the top of the tables is again Harvard University, which ranks 1st in five of the six subjects, takes its total table topping performance in the 2011 QS World University Rankings® by Subject to a remarkable 16 of the 26 disciplines. The only exception to the Harvard whitewash was Statistics and Operational Research, which is topped by Stanford University. This brings the number of universities that rank first in one of the 26 subjects to five: Harvard (17), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (6), Cambridge (2), with Oxford and Stanford top in one subject each. Read more

Check out our 2011 QS Asian University Rankings

We’ve just released our much sought after 2011 QS Asian University Rankings. Check out full results here.

Rank School Name Country Classification Score
1 The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Hong Kong M|CO|VH 100.00
2 University of Hong Kong Hong Kong L|FC|VH 99.80
3 National University of Singapore (NUS) Singapore XL|FC|VH 99.30
4 The University of Tokyo Japan L|FC|VH 97.40
5 The Chinese University of Hong Kong Hong Kong L|FC|VH 97.20
6 Seoul National University Korea, South L|FC|VH 96.90
7 Kyoto University Japan L|FC|VH 96.30
8 Osaka University Japan L|FC|VH 96.09
9= Tohoku University Japan L|FC|VH 94.30
9= Tokyo Institute of Technology Japan M|CO|VH 94.30
11 KAIST – Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology Korea, South M|CO|VH 94.20
12 Pohang University of Science And Technology (POSTECH) Korea, South S|FO|VH 93.59
13 Peking University China L|FC|VH 93.30
14 Nagoya University Japan L|FC|VH 92.80
15 City University of Hong Kong Hong Kong M|CO|VH 91.20
16 Tsinghua University China XL|FC|VH 90.20
17 Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Singapore L|CO|VH 89.40
18= Yonsei University Korea, South XL|FC|VH 86.90
18= Kyushu University Japan L|FC|VH 86.90
20 Hokkaido University Japan L|FC|VH 85.80
21= Fudan University China L|FC|VH 85.09
21= National Taiwan University (NTU) Taiwan XL|FC|VH 85.09
23 University of Tsukuba Japan L|FC|VH 82.30
24= University of Science and Technology of China China L|CO|VH 81.90
24= Keio University Japan XL|FC|HI 81.90
26 Korea University Korea, South XL|FC|VH 80.80
27= Sungkyunkwan University Korea, South L|FC|VH 79.59
27= Zhejiang University China XL|FC|VH 79.59
29 Nanjing University China L|FC|VH 79.20
30 The Hong Kong Polytechnic University Hong Kong L|CO|VH 79.09
31 National Tsing Hua University Taiwan M|CO|VH 77.80
32 National Cheng Kung University Taiwan L|FC|VH 77.59
33 Shanghai Jiao Tong University China XL|FC|VH 77.50
34 Mahidol University Thailand L|FC|HI 77.09
35 Kobe University Japan L|FC|HI 75.80
36 Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IITK) India S|CO|VH 74.90
37 Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IITD) India M|CO|VH 74.70
38 Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB) India M|CO|VH 74.30
39 Universiti Malaya (UM) Malaysia L|FC|HI 73.70
40 National Yang Ming University Taiwan S|FC|VH 73.50
41 Hiroshima University Japan L|FC|VH 72.80
42 Kyung Hee University Korea, South L|FC|HI 71.90
43 Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM) India M|CO|VH 71.40
44 Hanyang University Korea, South L|FC|VH 71.09
45 Ewha Womans University Korea, South L|FC|HI 70.70
46 Waseda University Japan XL|CO|VH 70.30
47 Chulalongkorn University Thailand XL|FC|HI 69.90
48 Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (IITKGP) India M|FO|VH 69.30
49 Hong Kong Baptist University Hong Kong M|FC|HI 68.70
50 University of Indonesia Indonesia XL|FC|MD 67.80

HE News Brief 12.4.11

by Abby Chau


  • AUSTRALIA: Leadership at top institutions are targeting indigenous students’ leadership and participation rates
  • SOUTH KOREA: Series of suicides on the KAIST campus has forced a change in student scholarship policies
  • POLAND: Private and public institutions jostle for students and supremacy
  • KENYA: Brain drain affecting professors and students
  • GLOBAL: New QS Subject Rankings – Engineering & Technology has recently been released

Read more

QS Subject Rankings 2011 – Engineering & Technology

QS Subject Rankings are out, check out more results here.

Chemical Engineering Rankings 2011

QS Rankings Results: Engineering – Chemical
Rank Institution Country Academic Employer Citations Score
1   Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) United States 100 84.9 82.2 90.1
2   University of Cambridge United Kingdom 85.4 93.8 56.8 79.3
3   University of California, Berkeley (UCB) United States 87.9 64.4 77.5 77.7
4   University of Oxford United Kingdom 71.5 94.1 60.3 74.9
5   Stanford University United States 73.3 73.9 75.1 74
6   University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) United States 55.1 63.7 83.1 66.1
7   California Institute of Technology (Caltech) United States 72.6 43.8 67.8 62.5
8   Imperial College London United Kingdom 69.9 65.7 47.8 62
9   Yale University United States 48.9 62 77.3 61.4
10   National University of Singapore (NUS) Singapore 51.5 57.4 68.2 58.3

QS World University Rankings by Subject: a new comparative tool for students

Following the success of the 2010 World University Rankings, viewed by an estimated 50 million people since its release last September, QS Quacquarelli Symonds is launching a new series of rankings in April. The QS World University Rankings® by Subject will provide new insights on the strengths of the world’s leading institutions in specific subject areas.

Students around the world are interested not only in identifying the universities that match their aspirations but also in a comparative tool at disciplinary level.

Ben Sowter, head of research explains “There is a clear demand for ways to compare the effectiveness of higher education institutions in narrower subject disciplines. After all, the majority of prospective international students know first what they want to study before asking themselves where they want to study”.

The first series of the four-part release of the rankings, will be Engineering and IT disciplines, revealing the world’s best universities for computer science, mechanical, chemical, electrical and civil engineering. Rankings by biomedicine and Life Sciences, Natural Sciences, Arts and Humanities and Social Sciences disciplines will be released as separate groups throughout 2011.

In compiling these new rankings, QS is taking into account the view of academics, the opinion of the employers and citations per paper – as a measure of a key aspect of the research activity, using Scopus/Elsevier bibliometric data.

QS World University Rankings® by Subject and details of the methodology, approved by the QS Academic Advisory Board will available on the 2nd of April on

Stay Tuned…

In May, we are hosting a symposium in Paris which seeks to bring together high-profile thought leaders in the field of higher education rankings and evaluations who will present the latest developments and trends in the field and lead the debate on Identifying Excellence and Diversity in International Education: Rankings and Beyond.

High profile speakers including Jan Sadlak from IREG Observatory, Richard Yelland from OECD, Monique Canto-Sperber from ENS, and Yasushi Adachi, Elsevier BV are confirmed for the event and will  share valuable insight and debate issues crucial to universities in their quest for globalisation and international recognition.

Watch this space for more information regarding this event as well as the release of our long-awaited Subject Rankings beginning in April.