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After the selection of the course or pathway of study, the selection of a university is of utmost significance. How can a student select the right University? This is where the university ranking system becomes pertinent. OECD observes that university ranking systems have been part of U.S. higher education for decades, and rejuvenated interest in ranking started to emanate with the introduction of Times Higher Education (THE) and the Shanghai Jiatong Academic ranking of the world universities. 


Nonetheless, the selection of a foreign university for study can be a complex decision. There are several reputed universities in one subject area alone. The country and city you want to study in, the cost of studying, part-time work possibilities, post-study visas, and stay-back options can influence the decision-making process of a student.


There are multiple world university rankings, and some are more popular than others. Nonetheless, there are arguments that university rankings do not really measure what matters. Irrespective of such differences in opinion, the popularity of rankings can be found growing, and this is a clear indication of the reliance on rankings by students and other decision-making units. Interestingly, there are substantial differences between the methodologies used by the major ranking systems. The following is a brief discussion of the major ranking systems: 


Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings

This is one of the most widely used and accepted university rankings. This ranking system covered 1800 universities across 99 countries and territories in the 2022 methodology. Four main areas are used to create the ranking: teaching, research, knowledge transfer, and international outlook. To obtain the latest THE ranking, please click here.

Some authors argue that the Times Higher Education ranking contains too much noise and that the overall score, student-staff ratio, and peer ratings fluctuate unacceptably from year to year. 


QS World University Rankings

In 2022, 1300 universities took part in this ranking system. This ranking is developed based on six matrices: academic reputation (40%), Employer reputation (10%), Faculty/student ratio (20%), international faculty ratio (5%), and international student ratio. Since 2004, QS has published world university rankings. 


Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU)

ARWU can be found as following another kind of methodology. This ranking system is also known as the Shanghai ranking.  In this ranking, the Quality of Education is given 10% weightage, quality of faculty which includes the staff of an institution winning Nobel prizes or field medals, and highly cited researchers, both of them carrying 20% weightage each.  The third component, Research output, has two sub-components, namely, papers published in Nature and Science and papers indexed in the Science Citation Index and the Social Science Citation Index, both of which carry 20% weightage. The fourth and last component is the per capita academic performance of an institution.


World University Webometric Ranking

The methodology used by this ranking system is quite different from the other rankings discussed. The presence of universities on the internet is the main criterion used to determine the quality of the university; however, it has nothing to do with the ranking of the websites of the Universities. Webometric and bibliometric indicators are used to determine Thus, to improve its ranking, a university has to improve the quality and quantity of its content.


CWTS Leiden Ranking

This ranking is compiled by Leiden University, and according to them, critical information regarding the scientific performance of 1300 major universities around the world is provided by the ranking. According to Leiden University, the methodology used to rank the universities followed a multi-dimensional perspective. 


Four criteria or indicators are used to rank the university: scientific impact, collaboration, open-access publishing, and gender diversity. One similarity between Webometric and CWTS Leiden is the use of bibliometric indicators. This implies that more and more ranking systems are depending on the quality of research output to assess the quality of a university.


How can you use university rankings to support your decision-making?

The discussion so far has shown that there is no shortage of information on where a university stands globally in terms of quality. However, as you may have already noticed, a single university cannot be the best in all subject areas. Besides this, your decision about university selection can be influenced by multiple factors such as cost, location, decisions made by friends in the selection of a university, the influence of educational consultants, and the influence of family and friends, to mention a few cases.


You may be able to narrow the search once you select a country. This narrowing down allows you to choose the university that best meets your needs. Sometimes your selection can be really quick, such as when you and your friend would like to enroll at the same university. In all these cases, university rankings can be a good starting point. 


But, why go through all these hassles? Get dedicated support from TCL Global free of charge and get enrolled in an international university.


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