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Insights of Global University Ranking

Know what goes into the process of global university rankings

Thought of taking up higher education in a global institution abroad?  Well, exploring cross border educational alternative is thrilling, but there are certain factors that should be considered before enrolling. Among all, the first thing that strikes a student’s attention is the subject , university ranking and standing among other international institution. 

Other factors like employability, hostel accommodation, and connectivity to the  major job hubs is a major factor that influences a student’s decision for considering a university. 

Every year agency like QS, THE  publishes their annual or monthly report on university ranking based on several parameters.  It helps in selecting a career option which is trending and have more promising professional career in subjects like business administration, medical or any other equivalent discipline. But why is it so important? How a university gets its rank? To answer all such queries, let us get deep into the importance, procedures and other aspects of university rankings.

What is subject ranking?

The subject ranking of each university is compiled using four characteristics. The first two of these are QS’s global surveys of academics and employers, which are used to assess institutions’ international reputation in each subject. The second two indicators assess research impact, based on research citations per paper and h-index in the relevant subject. These are sourced from Elsevier’s Scopus database, the world’s most comprehensive research citations database.

What is Global University ranking?

It is the standing of an institution on varied factors and combination. University rankings are a comprehensive overview of numerous quantifiable factors on to which universities have to prove their capabilities and strength. The process of ranking is conducted by various credible sources like magazines, newspapers, and governmental departments & university ranking agencies. These are done monthly or annually to help stud:ents get an idea of brighter higher education prospects across their home countries. 

Global university rankings are based on below factors:

  • Number of researches made in the field of science, art, literature and other competent fields.

  • Number of students graduating every year.

  • Number of international students. 

  • Specialization in a wide array of subjects.


However ranking parameters might not be the same for every organization, the parameter of evaluation varies from organizations to organizations. According to UNESCO, university rankings are perceived as a measure of quality and so they create intense competition between universities all over the world. The top agencies ranking universities worldwide includes:

  • ShanghaiRanking Consultancy (the Academic Ranking of World Universities; ARWU)

  • Times Higher Education (THE)

  • Quacquarelli Symonds (QS)

  • US News

  • Forbes magazine

ShanghaiRanking Consultancy University Ranking Methodology

ShanghaiRanking Consultancy is an independent organization dedicated to research on higher education intelligence and consultation. It has been the official publisher of the Academic Ranking of World Universities since 2009. ShanghaiRanking Consultancy began to publish rankings of world universities by academic subjects in 2009.

The ranking methodology of ShanghaiRanking is based on the universities’ staff winning Nobel Prize in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology/Medicine, Economics and Fields Medals in Mathematics. Academic leaders and professors from universities across the globe are engaged in identifying these awards and other important measures of academic performance together. During April 2019 about 6000 professors from over 100 top universities participated in the survey, where two questions are asked. The first question asks the participants to list the top tier journals in their primary subjects. The second question asks the participants to identify the most influential and credible international awards in their primary subjects. The criteria considers 50% of the votes for each question and rank accordingly. 

Times Higher Education University Ranking Methodology

The Times Higher Education has over 50 years of experience in publishing university rankings globally. It has its unique geopolitical indicators that judge universities based on their teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. The indicators include:

  • Teaching (the learning environment)

  • Research (volume, income and reputation)

  • Citations (research influence)

  • International outlook (staff, students and research)

  • Industry income (knowledge transfer)

Universities submit institutional data which is used for rankings. A standardisation approach uses cumulative probability function, and evaluate where a particular institution’s indicator sits within that function. Each of the above indicators should have the following percentage to rank:

  • Teaching (the learning environment): 30%

  • Reputation survey: 15%

  • Staff-to-student ratio: 4.5%

  • Doctorate-to-bachelor’s ratio: 2.25%

  • Doctorates-awarded- to-academic-staff ratio: 6%

  • Institutional income: 2.25%

  1. Research (volume, income and reputation): 30%

  • Reputation survey: 18%

  • Research income: 6%

  • Research productivity: 6%

  • Citations (research influence): 30%

4. International outlook (staff, students, research): 7.5%

  • International-to-domestic-student ratio: 2.5%

  • International-to-domestic-staff ratio: 2.5%

  • International collaboration: 2.5%

  1. Industry income (knowledge transfer): 2.5%

Quacquarelli Symonds (QS)  University Ranking Methodology

The QS publishes an annual report of university rankings. It comprises of rankings based on overall and subject rankings of the universities for studying 48 different subjects in five composite faculty areas across Asia, Latin America, Emerging Europe and Central Asia and the Arab Region. QS World University Rankings are two broad global factors and they are:

  • Academics 

  • and another number of employers. 

QS does not include factors like financial metrics like research income which cannot be independently validated or are subject to exchange rate and business cycle fluctuations. 

U.S News University Ranking Methodology

The U.S News ranking uses 13 indicators to rank approx 1,250 top-ranked school's profile pages on lists the overall global score as well as numerical ranks for the 13 indicators, allowing students to compare each school's standing in each indicator.

The indicators include the following:

1.Global research reputation (12.5 percent)

2.Regional research reputation (12.5 percent)

3.Bibliometric Indicators

4.Publications (10 percent)

5.Books (2.5 percent)

6.Conferences (2.5 percent)

7.Normalized citation impact (10 percent)

8.Total citations (7.5 percent)

9.Number of publications that are among the 10 percent most cited (12.5 percent)

10.Percentage of total publications that are among the 10 percent most cited (10 percent)

11.International collaboration (5 percent)

12.Percentage of total publications with international collaboration (5 percent)

13.Scientific Excellence Indicators

  • Number of highly cited papers that are among the top 1 percent most cited in their respective field (5 percent)

  • Percentage of total publications that are among the top 1 percent most highly cited papers (5 percent)

Forbes University Ranking Methodology

The American business magazine is well known for its lists and rankings which includes World’s Richest Americans and World University Rankings. It is published bi-weekly covering features on a wide array of subjects like education, technology, communications, science, politics, and law. Forbes uses a comprehensive data compiled by the U.S. Department of Education, the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), and the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and ranks universities based on the following features:

1.Alumni Salary (20%)

2.Debt (20%)

3.Student Experience (20%)

4.American Leaders List (15%)

5.Academic Success (12.5%)

6.Graduation Rate (12.5%)

The validity of these institutions has been criticized for their highly critical reliability on the unrandom group of educators and others involved with the academic enterprise for their opinions, and flawed methodology. As a consequence more transparency became a key aspect for publishing ranking worldwide. The institutions above are considered the most reliable sources for incorporating reputable professionals and unbiased analysis for university rankings.

Where to find help?

To get updated news on the latest university ranking, GoTo University is the place you must refer to. It has a comprehensive compilation of world university rankings from all credible sources which also includes subject rankings as well across the globe. We have launched offers page where students can reach out to latest news and courses available by many global universities. For assistant in admission and tests, call our consultants and get a free consultation session


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