Which University Ranking System to Refer to in Singapore? Times or QS?

Which University Ranking System to Refer to in Singapore? Times or QS?

A Comparison of Times and QS University Ranking Systems

The education sector has become extremely competitive – the number of universities is on the rise and every university is enhancing the quality of education to attract top minds. As such, students often face a dilemma while selecting a university that best suits their interests. Students are unsure of the factors they need to consider while choosing or shortlisting a number of universities. In addition, they get overwhelmed by the amount of information present online and are unsure of the credibility of the sources. As such, there is a huge demand for university ranking systems that help students in identifying universities for which they meet the admission criteria.

Which University Ranking System to Refer to in Singapore? Times or QS?

Two agencies that have been successful in addressing the aforementioned needs of students worldwide are Times Higher Education, also known as Times, and Quacquarelli Symonds (QS). Although there are some similarities in the performance indicators employed by Times and QS university ranking systems, there are quite a number of differences too, which students should take note of while comparing universities. However, before comparing the two ranking systems, it is important to understand the components of each ranking system.

Evaluation of Universities – Times

In the Times university ranking system, universities are evaluated on the following factors: learning environment – where the focus is on staff to student ratio, ratio of doctoral to bachelor’s degrees, and reputation of the university based on results of invited-only questionnaires; volume and quality of research – where the focus is on university research income and the number of research papers published by each academician; research influence in other sectors through citations in publications; income generated in the relevant industries through innovative practices put forth by the universities; and the international outlook based on the demographics of staff and students.

The Times university ranking system has different weighting for various fields of study – Arts and Humanities, Life and Physical Sciences, Engineering and Technology, and Social Sciences.

Time University Ranking System

Table derived from http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/world-university-rankings/2013-14/world-ranking/methodology

Evaluation of Universities – QS

The QS university ranking system is slightly different from the Times ranking system because in the former, different sets of indicators, with different weightings, are used for evaluating all the universities in the world, universities in Asia, and those in Latin America. In the QS world universities ranking, academic reputation stands at 40%, where people’s views, especially those of academicians are collected through invitation-only questionnaires, employer reputation stands at 10%, faculty-student ratio accounts for 20%, the number of citations per faculty stands at 20% and the number of international faculty and international students in a university accounts for 5% each.

On the other hand, in the QS Asian universities’ ranking, academic reputation and employer reputation account for 30% and 10% respectively, faculty-student ratio stands at 20%, citations per paper and papers per faculty stand at 15% each, and the weighting of the number of international faculty and international students is 2.5% each. Last but not least, the weighting of student exchanges is 5%.

For QS Latin American universities’ ranking, emphasis is on academic reputation (30%), employer reputation (20%), faculty-student ratio (10%), citations per paper (10%), papers per faculty (10%), staff with PhD (10%), and web impact (10%). Web impact is only relevant to universities in Latin America and here, effectiveness of online projection of institutions is analysed. Latin American universities that operate principally in English get a high rating for this category.

QS Ranking System

Table derived from http://www.iu.qs.com/university-rankings/rankings-indicators/

Major Differences Between Times and QS Ranking Systems

In the Times ranking system, the weighting is differentiated based on the fields of study whereas in the QS ranking system, weighting is differentiated based on the location of the universities, where the criteria for Asian universities is different from Latin American universities.

The QS ranking system reaches out to international students, which is why the comparison is based on regions. On the other hand, the Times ranking system is not just used by students but also governments to shape their policies.

Another difference between the two systems is that the ratings of QS are driven by reputation, where 50% of a university’s score is derived from surveys. Also, QS opts for quantity for reliability. As such, apart from sending invitation-only questionnaires, QS focuses on mass mailing to academicians too to avoid data from becoming skewed and biased. On the other hand, Times simply sends invitation-only questionnaires, and it does not view the results of this research method as being biased or skewed.

Which System is More Accurate in Gauging the Standard of Universities in Singapore?

The ratings of universities in Singapore are different in QS and Times ranking systems. For example, as per the QS world ranking system for 2013/2014, National University of Singapore (NUS) is ranked 24th, with a score of 89.4, whereas as per the Times ranking system, NUS is ranked 26th, with a score of 72.4. On the other hand, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is ranked 41, with a score of 81.1, whereas in the Times ranking system, its rank has fallen to 76, with a score of 57.2. Since the evaluation criteria are different for both Times and QS, it is inaccurate to compare the scores of a university across the ranking systems. However, we can compare the ranks across the two ranking systems.

And since the QS ranking system provides ratings of universities, specifically in Asia, students will be able to gauge the quality of a university in Singapore based on criteria that are relevant to Asian universities, which is more accurate than the Times ranking system. As per the QS Asian universities’ ranking, NUS holds the second position whereas NTU is at the tenth position.

The Times ranking system is more accurate for countries in which there are innumerous universities, where certain universities are known for specific faculties and fields of study. In Singapore, there are only six local universities. And their specialisations are pretty evident. For example, the Singapore Management University (SMU) and the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) are known for management courses. And NUS and NTU offer courses ranging from arts to engineering. So, since there is not much diversification between each university, the Times ranking system may not be as accurate in the comparison of the standard of universities in Singapore as the QS ranking system. So, for gauging the standard of universities in Singapore, the QS ranking system may be a better choice.

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