Rankings of a Global Nature

Sharon Rieger's picture

Step aside U.S. News & World Report. Move over Princeton Review. Your annual rankings may instill confidence or consternation among U.S. colleges and universities (depending on placement), but you’re not the only game in town. It’s a big world out there. When it comes to the global education picture, there’s another yardstick to measure quality.

The QS World University Rankings are the first in the world to rank universities at individual subject level. Headquartered in London, QS is Quacquarelli Symonds, a company that tracks and promotes study abroad programs. Unlike other rankings, which are often perceived as popularity contests, QS is not geared to students as much as it is to the global marketplace. Researcher Ben Sowter said the QS survey also asks global employers to identify the institutions that produce the best graduates, both overall and within a given discipline. “Taking on board the views of global employers means that these rankings move away from research and give a sense of the real-world market value of different degree programs,” Sowter says.

So how do U.S. schools compare on the global level? In the full survey of 26 disciplines, American universities did quite well, with 119 institutions showing up in at least one subject. This was followed by UK (64), Germany (39), Australia (31), France (31), Canada (21), Japan (18), China (14), and the Netherlands (14).

Harvard scored at the top in 17 subjects, including Politics, Accounting, and Economics. MIT was next with six first place spots, followed by Cambridge (two), Oxford and Stanford (one each).

The full 2011 QS World University Rankings report is available at www.topuniversities.com. —Tim Goral

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