University Rankings over Time

The QS Rankings are an influential score sheet of universities around the world. They are published annually by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), a British research company based in London. The rankings for 2013 are out, and I have charted the rankings of this year’s top 10 over the last five years:

QS

QS’s top 10 from 2008 to 2013; The label is the 2013 rank. Columbia is included because it was in the top 10 of 2008 and 2010.

Observations from this year’s ranking:

  • MIT (#1 in 2013) has shot up in the rankings. This is in line with the increasing demand for technical and computer science education. At Harvard, enrollment into the college’s introductory computer science course went up, from around 300 students in 2008 to almost 800 students in 2013!
  • Asia’s top scorer is National University of Singapore

Method:

How QS Ranks Universities

Method: How QS Ranks Universities

The QS Rankings produce an aggregate score, on a scale of 0-100, for each university. The aggregate score is a sum of six weighted scores:

  • Academic reputation: from a global survey of 62,000 academics (40%)
  • Student:Faculty ratio (20%)
  • Citations per Faculty: How many times the university’s research is cited in other sources on Scopus, a database of research (20%)
  • Employer reputation: from a global survey of 28,000 employers (20%)
  • Int’l Faculty (Students): proportion of faculty (students) from abroad (5% each)

Note that many of the universities are apart by tiny numbers (MIT, Harvard, Cambridge, UCL, Imperial are all within 1.3 points of each other), which increases the likelihood of bias or error influencing the ranking.

In any case, it appears futile to try and compare massive multi-disciplinary institutions by a single statistic.

However, larger trends – like MIT’s and Stanford’s ascendancy – are noteworthy.

Data from QS Ranking. Graphics produced on R.

Abbas Keshvani

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