Popular Study Destinations Decline in QS Rankings by Subject

 Popular Study Destinations Decline in QS Rankings by Subject

Results Show Rise of Universities from Non-English-Speaking Countries

Higher education institutions based in the Big Four study destinations – USA, UK, Canada and Australia – have dropped in QS World University Rankings by Subject in 2024. An article published by University World News highlights that the United States experienced a decline of 23% in its overall performance while the United Kingdom and Canada have both had their performance diminish by 8%. Australia, in turn, decreased by less than 5%. 

The analysis covered 16,000 university programmes and 55 academic disciplines across 1,500 institutions in 96 countries. The ranking is divided into five broad disciplinary categories: arts and humanities, engineering and technology, life sciences, natural sciences and social sciences & management. 

While still heavily dominated by universities from the United States and the United Kingdom, the ranking shows that institutions from countries such as Switzerland, the Netherlands, Italy, China, Singapore and Hong Kong are rising. 

Wittenborg president Peter Birdsall believes these changes show that universities from less well-represented countries are becoming more competitive. “It could mean that universities from other countries are putting forward their programmes into the rankings more often, but there might also be a higher emphasis on academic quality in specific areas in these countries. Besides, I feel that the universities from English-speaking countries tend to rely heavily on their internal quality systems, while other countries like the Netherlands also place importance on programme accreditation.” 

Birdsall adds that the economic development of different countries and regions tends to benefit their education systems. “There has been a change across the globe when it comes to the balance of quality. China and other Asian countries, for example, have improved their quality systems as they develop in socioeconomic terms. The rankings are based on a mix of criteria, and if you have the resources to invest in education, you will see concrete improvements.” 

He points out that rankings such as QS contribute to giving visibility to the institutions that are featured in them. “While it’s really difficult to get to the top of the overall rankings worldwide or even in the Netherlands, universities can still stand out within the specific subjects in which they excel. This contributes to attracting students, particularly international students who check these rankings while searching for programmes.” 

The president of Wittenborg underlines that Dutch higher education institutions traditionally stand out in rankings pertaining to technical subjects, such as engineering, technology, water management and agriculture. The country is also strong in other areas like economics and business.  

Wittenborg joining the QS Rankings

On 15 May, Wittenborg began the process of joining the QS Stars Rankings. Differently from QS World University Rankings, QS Stars is not focused on comparing institutions against one another. Instead, it is an in-depth rating system that assesses a university’s performance across a wide range of indicators, in areas that matter to students and partners. The five evaluated dimensions are learning experience, employability and outcomes, research and innovation, sustainability and global engagement. Each dimension comprises multiple subcategories. 

After being assessed using extensive data, universities are given an overall QS Star rating, and a rating for each of the categories, all on a scale of five. This means that every institution has the potential to achieve the highest rating and therefore highlight specific areas of excellence beyond traditional metrics.  

According to Birdsall, by joining QS Stars Rankings Wittenborg will be provided with an addition to its quality assurance system. “During this process, they’re asking you to look at your data from a different point of view and collect other sort of data that you would not normally gather. All of this can help towards the bigger picture of the overall accreditation. Plus, it is a way to increase Wittenborg’s visibility even more.” 

Wittenborg Head of Education Development and Quality Management Kriszta Kaspers-Rostás commented that the school is currently working on gathering all the data that is required by the evaluators. “The QS Stars Ranking will be a great tool to boost Wittenborg’s global reputation. We can add the ranking to our marketing and strategic planning. Moreover, it will be an excellent benchmark that will enable us to see which direction we need to go to keep improving.”

WUP 05/06/2024 
by Ulisses Sawczuk 
©WUAS Press