A second round of global comparisons of universities and specialist institutions in 29 subjects will begin to be published on Friday, 29th of June.
The new QS World University Rankings by Subject will be released in four tranches, beginning with the social sciences. They will feature improvements to the methodology introduced last year in the first ever international rankings of individual subjects, as well as an extension into new academic areas. Universities will continue to be ranked by academic reputation, employer reputation and research citations, with weightings tailored to each subject.
Last year’s exercise highlighted areas of excellence in universities that may not compete at the top level across all subjects, as well as confirming the status of the leaders in the overall QS World University Rankings.
The first 26 subject rankings attracted huge interest in 2011. Although dominated by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the results allowed more than 550 universities to demonstrate their strength in particular fields. Among the new subjects to be ranked will be Education and Communication and Media Studies, both of which attract large numbers of international students.
After the publication of social science results will come further launches focusing on engineering and technology, the sciences and the arts and humanities.
Ben Sowter, who will be responsible for the rankings as head of research at QS, said: “”We knew there was a demand for better information on individual subjects, not just whole universities, and the very positive reaction to the first rankings confirmed this. There will be improvements, as well as more subjects, in the second round so they should be even more useful to prospective students.”
Paul Thurman, Professor of Statistics at Columbia University, New York, and a member of the advisory board for the QS World University Rankings, said the subject rankings could represent a “sea change” in the information used to choose universities. “Research shows students are likely to know what they want to study, and these rankings help students find the best places to do just that,” he said. “Long gone, or long going, perhaps, are the days when only a school’s umbrella ‘brand’ matters.”