En este momento estás viendo How to read university rankings

How to read university rankings

When it comes to choosing your study path, you take many factors into consideration. Apart from choosing WHAT to study, you are also maybe asking yourself WHERE to do it. And when it comes to choosing where to study, it’s almost impossible not to let university rankings influence your choice! Every year new charts are published and everyone starts talking about it: but what is all this fuss about? How can a university ranking be read in order to be useful? Let’s consider some points:


Apart from the ambiguous (and mostly unreliable) rankings that are published on a daily basis on gossip magazines and click-bait websites, there are three university rankings that are generally trustworthy: Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU, you can read their Ranking of 2021 here), QS World University Rankings (you can read their Ranking of 2022 here) and Times Higher Education World University Rankings (you can read their Ranking of 2022 here). Their trustworthiness is based on the fact that they are both based on specific criteria that are renewed every year.


And what are these metrics? They may differ from one another, but let’s see QS World University Rankings, for example:

  1. Academic Reputation → in other words, what experts think about that university, both in terms of teaching quality and research quality
  2. Employer Reputation → in other words, what employers think about the preparation students receive from that university in terms of employability
  3. Faculty/Student Ratio → in other words, how many faculty members per student are in the university. A high number of faculty members will reduce the teaching burden and this will result into a better teaching quality.
  4. Citations per faculty → in other words, the number of scientific citations the faculty members receive for their published papers
  5. International Faculty Ratio → in other words, the number of international faculty members that have relations with that university.
  6. International Student Ratio → in other words, the number of international students that choose to study at that university. The more they are, the greater will be the global awareness of all the members of the university. These two last metrics demonstrate an ability to attract faculty and students from across the world, which in turn suggests that it possesses a strong international brand.

To know more about these metrics, check this out.


Don’t worry! Many factors that could be important for you and for your decision may not be included among the criteria used for these rankings. For example, one important factor for you could be the teaching quality, but it is difficult to measure this in a mathematical way, so just trust your guts for that( (But word of mouth could also be a good idea!). So it will be important to read between the lines, or rather between the numbers, in order to get a better sense of what the rankings are actually ranking!


Anyway, if you’re curious about the position of Spanish universities in these rankings, here’s something for you!

The first Spanish university which appears in the QS World University Ranking 2022 is the Universitat de Barcelona, placed 168° in the list. But the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid follows at 206° place, while the Universidad Complutense de Madrid is 223° (in a list of more than 1200 universities!)

So, in case you didn’t have enough reasons to come to study to Madrid yet, we have given you a new one! But if you’re looking for more reasons for Madrid to be the best city to study abroad, here‘s more for you!




By: Alessia Cuofano, University of Naples L’Orientale ’22

Deja una respuesta