It is an ongoing debate what ranking methodology is used to rank the top universities in the world. Unfortunately, there is no standard that is practiced around the world. Every ranking organization has its own methodology and comparison factors to rank universities. The most followed rankings are those by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) called as the QS World University Rankings.
The other competitor of QS is the Times Higher Education (THE) that publishes its own university rankings every year in collaboration with Thomson Reuters . The rankings are called as Times Higher Education World University Rankings.
If you pick university rankings for a specific year published by QS and THE, you will certainly find major differences which is only due to their methodology used to rank universities.
Let us see how the QS World University Rankings work.
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The primary aim of the QS World University Rankings® is to help students make informed comparisons between their international study options. Since first being compiled in 2004, the rankings have expanded to feature more than 800 universities around the world, with far more (over 3,000) assessed. The top 400 universities are given individual ranking positions, and after this universities are placed within a group, starting from 401-410, up to 701+.
The rankings compare these top 800 universities across four broad areas of interest to prospective students: research, teaching, employability and international outlook.
These four key areas are assessed using six indicators, each of which is given a different percentage weighting (see below). Four of the indicators are based on ‘hard’ data, and the remaining two on major global surveys – one of academics and another of employers – each the largest of their kind. Below is a guide to each of the six indicators used.