QS World University Rankings 2017: Launch Date Changes and More

With the next edition of QS World University Rankings coming out next week and fact files distributed to all featured institutions, it seems the moment to talk about one peripheral detail that may have escaped some of our followers.

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It may also be of interest to you, that our QS World University Rankings for 2018 have been released! 

Discover the world’s top universities. Find out how Universities are ranked per subject. What regions and universities have climbed this year’s rankings and what well-established country for higher education has had the majority of its institutions fall down our list?  


We have reconfigured our annual rankings cycle, moving things around on the calendar with a view to, once the dust has settled, provide clarity rather than cause confusion. These changes have included:

  1. Moving the QS World University Rankings forward to June from its traditional home in September
  2. Pushing the regional rankings back to October from their previous June release
  3. Moving the employability rankings forward to September to coincide with EAIE
  4. Confirming our subject rankings for a late February/early-March launch

The landscape has changed dramatically in the 13 years since we first published a ranking, we have organically built out our rankings portfolio without reconfiguring our publication schedule, when we started this we were one of two rankings compilers producing outcomes of a global scope. We are now one of 19. It’s become a crowded calendar.

So… we took a fresh look at our cycle and rebuilt it, thinking about the logical order in which institutions should be encouraged to provide data, providing greater clarity on what inputs are used for what rankings, what events are taking place that can support, or be supported by the rankings releases, when do we feel students are seeking this kind of data most, on average, worldwide.

We have also taken a look at how our results should be labeled. According to previous protocol, next week’s release would be titled the QS World University Rankings 2017-2018… but we’ve made a decision to abbreviate to the QS World University Rankings 2018 despite the release date being so much earlier. It’s easier for badging and logo purposes and slices out five characters for tweet-friendly messaging – even more if we go down to QSWUR2018 – and we anticipate some SEO advantages.

As much as anything, though, the selection of which of the two years to shorten to has come from the intention to keep data collection periods standard within a data collection cycle – all rankings produced in the 2018 cycle will be plainly labelled as such, and will involve survey responses gathered between 2013 and 2017, articles published between 2011 and 2015 and the citations they have attracted until the end of 2016, and data from universities, ministries and central statistics bodies collected and validated, predominantly, in 2016 and 2017.

Whilst previous years’ results were all formally labeled with two years (i.e. 2016-2017) in the abbreviated form they were often shortened to the first of the two years, we haven’t skipped a year, so we’ll be working to retroactively adjust all single year references to the corresponding year reflecting the new policy.

There may be some transitional confusion, but in a society that has become accustomed to routinely receiving subscription magazines well over a month before the date reflected on the cover, I suspect our followers will quickly adapt, and the resulting clarity will only help.

The results of the QS World University Rankings 2018 will be published on www.topuniversities.com on June 8.

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