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MIT tops QS World University Rankings for 6th year in a row

The US continues to dominate the rankings, with 4 universities in the top 5, and 13 in the top 25
BY BrainGain Magazine Staff Writer |   09-06-2017
View of MIT
A view of the MIT campus (photo by Andrew Hitchcock, used under CC license)

For the sixth consecutive year, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is the world’s top university, according to the 2018 QS World University Rankings released this week. Four of the five top universities are based in the United States. MIT is followed by Stanford, Harvard, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and the University of Cambridge.

The US continues to dominate, accounting for 13 of the top 25 universities in this year’s list. The UK is next, with one university in the top five, and four in the top 10. Also in the top 25 are Switzerland (besides ETH in the 10th spot, the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, or EPFL, came in at No. 12) and Singapore (Nanyang Technological University or NTU at No. 11 and National University of Singapore or NUS at No. 15).

The other countries that made the top 25 were Australia, with Australian National University coming in at No. 20, and China, whose Tsinghua University was placed 25th.

Among the Indian universities on the list, the topper was IIT Delhi, ranked No. 172, followed by IIT Bombay (No. 179) and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, which had the 190th spot. The list includes more than 950 universities around the world.

The QS World University Rankings are based on six metrics: academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty/student ratio, citations per faculty, international faculty ratio, and international student ratio. The highest weightage is given to academic reputation (40%). Based on an academic survey, it collates the expert opinions of over 70,000 individuals in the higher education space, regarding teaching and research quality.

Employer reputation (10% weightage) is based on over 30,000 responses to the QS Employer Survey, with employers identifying those institutions from which they source the most competent, innovative, effective graduates. Previously, international responses were weighted at 70%, with domestic responses contributing 30% of the total score for this metric. This year, international and domestic responses are contributing 50% each to an institution’s final score.

Faculty/student ratio (20% weightage) is an indicator of teaching quality, which students generally regard as their most important concern when comparing institutions using a ranking. Teaching quality is tricky to measure, so QS Rankings uses the teacher/student ratio as a proxy metric. It indicates whether institutions are able to provide students with meaningful access to professors.

View of the Beckman Institute at Caltech, with fountains playing in front of it
View of the Caltech campus (photo by Eric Chan, used under CC license)

Citations per faculty gets a weightage of 20%. This is an indicator of research output – another major aspect of an institution’s mission besides teaching. This metric is calculated by the total number of citations received by all papers produced by an institution in a five-year period by the number of faculty members there. Adjustments are made for the fact that there is a lot of variation in output depending on the field of study. For example, the Life Sciences accounted for nearly half of all research citations in 2015.

The international faculty ratio and international student ratio get weightage of 5% each. A highly international university has and offers a number of advantages. It shows that the institution is able to attract faculty and students from across the world, and implies a more global outlook. It provides both students and staff with a multinational environment, and provides students with global awareness. Such exposure is important for students in a world where more and more employers are recognizing the value of soft skills.



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