How university ratings helped Universidad Fidélitas develop new partnerships and recruit international students

Students at a student recruitment fair.

University ratings systems, like QS Stars, assess how institutions perform in the areas that matter to students, graduates, faculty and partners. Universities receive an overall QS Star rating, and a rating for each of the categories, all out of five. 

Once the QS Stars audit is complete, the rating can be used to refine an institution’s performance strategy, promote the university globally, and attract more students and education partners. One institution that’s undergone a QS Stars assessment recently is Universidad Fidélitas. The Costa Rican university received a four-star overall rating with multiple five-star ratings in the key categories that underpin the rating. We spoke to Stephanie Garita Johnson, University Extension Manager, about the QS Stars audit, and how the university are using the results to drive student recruitment and improve their local and international reputation. 

What were the main reasons for your institution conducting an audit with QS Stars? 

An image of Stephanie Garita Johnson.

Universidad Fidélitas always seeks to guarantee quality at all levels. We know our facilities are state-of-the-art, and our faculty regularly update the academic programmes to adapt to the market. QS Stars offers a systematic process that allows us to identify our strengths and areas for improvement through a standardised scoring system that is comparable to other institutions internationally. 

Validation from an internationally credible entity like QS allows us to continue building a consolidated value proposition and brand, and offer academic programmes appropriate to the needs of the market. In addition, it allows us to link with leading universities worldwide, exchange experiences and best practice. Surrounding ourselves with the best makes us better.  

What institutional objectives has QS Stars helped you to achieve? 

Universidad Fidélitas seeks to position and differentiate itself as the best university among current and prospective students, graduates, and employers. 

Being part of a QS Stars assessment has allowed us to expand our network of national and international allies, which translates into numerous benefits: 

  • Greater local and international projection,  
  • Attraction of regional and international talent,  
  • More job opportunities for our graduates and students,  
  • Multicultural networking,  
  • Knowledge of new methodologies and trends,  
  • Strengthening of curricula and academic and scientific competencies, 
  • Improvement in the quality of teaching and research,  
  • Strengthening of linguistic competencies and soft skills,  
  • Identification of best practices and synergies, 
  • New market opportunities,
  • Differentiation and loyalty of the university community, 
  • Improvement in the job readiness of our students and graduates. 

After rigorous evaluation, we obtained five QS Stars in fundamental areas such as teaching, student employability, online teaching, and environmental impact. This clearly reflects the unwavering dedication to academic excellence, innovation and the training of present and future professionals who are hired with immediacy by different industries. 

The recognition of Universidad Fidélitas’ excellence in several areas allows us to improve the institutional projection of the University and to be recognised by students, employers, and allies as a leading university, and thus continue the path of growth that characterises us.  

QS Stars allows us to show the national and international community of our commitment to the continuous improvement of the educational service provided to our students. These achievements guide and nurture our communication efforts towards key audiences. 

We are also striving to be recognised as the university of choice for employers and to train students with a business and entrepreneurial mindset; the QS validation brings us closer to this. 

Describe your audit journey with QS Stars and how it has helped with university processes internally and externally. 

The data collection methodology has allowed us to improve our management systems. Currently, our strategic plans are objectives and key results (OKR) oriented, so we are more achievement oriented.  

Internally, we are results-oriented, and we follow these principles. 

  1. Teamwork with enthusiasm and commitment 
  1. We challenge ourselves to innovate and improve continuously. 
  1. We think big and move fast. 
  1. We drive superior customer experience.  

Based on these principles that guide our day-to-day operations, and with the QS Stars portal, it allows us to continue to have processes focused on measurable results. 

Additionally, we have developed remedial plans that allow us to close gaps identified during the QS Stars audit. We have been able to identify strengths and opportunities and develop strategic plans that allow us to achieve the desired positioning and differentiation. This aligns us with the aspiration of being the leading national and international university in quality education and STEM methodology.  

The QS Stars assessment has taught us to be excited about the options for improvement, to view them with positivity and as an opportunity for growth. But also to be focused on action, with a balance towards the desire to contribute positively to the development of a more equitable society and better opportunities for people.  

What has the main benefit of a QS Stars assessment been for your institution? 

Having an international endorsement gives us an excellent letter of introduction to continue formulating impactful programmes, and it allows us to stand out as a leading university in the region that understands the needs of the markets and generates timely and pertinent solutions. 

It opens doors for us to continue thinking big and leading international projects such as the Mars Challenge and the Nasa Space Apps Challenge, among others with international recognition. In also helps addition to develop solutions to meet the needs of our partners, such as specialised job fairs to provide more opportunities for our graduates, a Women in STEM careers programme, and the creation of new programmes such as the semiconductor technician.  

Specifically, how has QS Stars benefitted your student recruitment efforts? 

Students select the University based on quality criteria, with QS being an international entity with great credibility that guides the decision-making process on which university to choose. Having a QS Stars rating has improved our competitiveness and has reinforced our value proposition with an external validation, making known all the advantages of being a Fidélitas student. 

Together with the wide academic offer, the technology, and the different career modalities, we have been able to generate loyalty among our university community.   

It allows us to enjoy such an important national and international recognition, attracting the attention of employers, universities, and the students themselves who select us to entrust their higher education to us.  

Aligning ourselves with global trends in human talent training, opening international opportunities for our students. 

It is important for students to know that they are being educated in an institution that cares about academic quality and continuous improvement.  

How has being rated five stars in teaching and employability helped your institution be further recognised in these areas? 

The university is already recognised for its quality in teaching (demonstrated through national and international accreditation processes); QS confirms that quality. This allows us to develop close relationships with public and private organisations to provide preferential spaces for our students and graduates. These spaces facilitate the labour linkage and professional development of our community through internships, professional practices, training, competitions, as well as networking opportunities, employment, consulting, among others.  

Employers see us as an ally for their talent needs for the development of their business objectives.  

What are your final thoughts on the QS Stars experience? 

The QS Stars audit represented an exercise of self-analysis of great value for the University. It has allowed us to achieve the desired positioning and differentiation, by recognising our strengths and taking advantage of opportunities as a space to implement strategies that promote the development of a more updated and comprehensive value proposition.  

In addition, by identifying key players in the academic ecosystem, improving relations with national and international authorities, and directing efforts towards the areas of interest of both employers and students, we can orient our strategies towards the achievement of excellence. 

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