The Employer Reputation component is unique amongst current international evaluations in taking into consideration the important component of employability. The majority of undergraduate students leave university in search of employment after their first degree, making the reputation of their university amongst employers a crucial consideration.
A common approach to the evaluation of employability in domestic rankings is the graduate employment rate. There are two reasons why this indicator does not work at an international level – the first is that this evaluation looks at the top universities in the world – all of whom have very high employment rates – so it doesn’t provide very much discernment. The second is that, since we are looking at different countries, the results would react to local economic conditions and not necessarily just the quality of the institution. So, instead, we survey employers to ask their opinion on the quality of graduates.
The QS Employer Survey has been running since 1990 and contributes to a number of key research initiatives operated by the QS Intelligence Unit including the QS TopMBA Salary & Recruitment Trends Report and the TopMBA Global 200 Business Schools. Like the academic survey the questionnaire is adaptive responding to the early questions to take respondents through the MBA, Masters or First Degree tracks as appropriate.
The key sections for the Rankings work as follows:
The work is not done once the survey is designed and delivered. Once the responses are received a number of steps are taken to ensure the validity of the sample.
Five Year Aggregation
To boost the size and stability of the sample, QS combines responses from the last five years, where any respondent has responded more than once in the five year period, identifcal responses are discarded in favour of the latest numbers.
The survey samples contributing to this work have been growing substantially over the lifetime of the project, resulting in inherently more robust reputation measures. The decision has been taken to extend the window for both reputation measures to five years instead of three years previously, with responses from the earliest two years carrying a relative weight of 25% and 50% respectively.
Any online survey will receive a volume of test or speculative responses. QS runs an extensive filtering process to identify and discard responses of this nature.
It is well documented on the basis of other high-profile surveys in higher education that universities are not above attempting to get respondents to answer in a certain fashion. QS run a number of processes to screen for any manipulation of survey responses. If evidence is found to suggest any institution has attempted to overtly influence their performance, any responses acquired through Institutions Supplied Lists are discarded.