Message to staff on QS World Rankings 2023
The QS World University Ranking 2023 was published last night. The University of Aberdeen is ranked 220th the world, a fall of 15 places, which is disappointing after the small rise in ranking last year from 207th to 205th. On a more positive note, our UK ranking, which we track in terms of assessing progress towards our target of being consistently top 25 in the UK across the five major league tables, has improved by one place to 27th. We also remain 4th in Scotland. Of the 46 UK universities in the top 500, 37 fell in ranking, with over half falling by at least ten places, indicating the increasing competitiveness of this ranking globally.
The ranking is made up of six measures: Academic Reputation (40%, derived from a survey of academic staff worldwide), Employer Reputation (10%, derived from a survey of employers worldwide), Citations per Faculty (20%), Faculty-Student Ratio (20%), International Faculty Ratio (5%), and International Student Ratio (5%).
As can be seen in the table below, we have improved our scores and rank for Faculty-Student Ratio and Employer Reputation, maintained our rank for proportion of international staff, while our scores and ranking for Academic Reputation, Citations and International Students have fallen.
The improvement in score and global ranking for Faculty-Student Ratio after years of decline confirms that our efforts to address high student-staff ratios are starting to have an impact, though this remains our lowest ranked element, indicating that there is still much room for improvement. In the UK we are now ranked 26th for this element, a rise of four places.
We have consistently performed well on the two internationalisation measures in recent years. Our rank for International Faculty has been consistently around 140th in the world and 28th in the UK, and while our rank for the ratio of International Students has seen a drop of 21 places this year to 62nd in the world (and down from 15th to 27th in the UK), as the effects of Brexit on the make-up of our student population become evident, it remains our highest ranked element globally.
We have consolidated our global and UK ranking for Employer Reputation following a rise of 125 places globally and 10 places in the UK last year, rising one place each to 269th globally and 28th in the UK this year.
The significant fall in score and ranking for Citations per Faculty is a cause for concern, continuing a steep decline from 126th three years ago to 257th this year, and from 12th to 25th in the UK over the same period. This measure looks at citations of papers published between 2016 and 2020. The League Table Working Group has been undertaking analysis to understand the reasons for this with a view to developing guidance for Schools and academic staff on how they can increase the reach and hence the number of citations of their work. The decline in this measure is a further indicator, alongside the recently announced REF results, of the challenge that the University faces to rebuild research capacity and strengthen the quality and impact of our research.
The fall in our Academic Reputation survey ranking from consistently around 290th in the past four years to just outside the top 300 is also something that we will need to continue to make efforts to address, not least because this constitutes 40% of the overall ranking. Nevertheless it should be noted that our UK ranking has remained constant at 30th in the UK for the past 3 years. The University is able to submit 400 names of academics around the world to QS each year for participation in the survey (provided they have given their consent to the University for us to do this), and the push to ensure that we do this consistently year on year will continue. It is also worth noting that this measure is based on five years of data so the actions we are taking to strengthen the reputation of the University amongst academics worldwide will take time to bear fruit.
The full analysis of the University’s performance in the QS World University Ranking 2023 is available via the Directorate of Planning webpages here.
The Complete University Guide ranking will be published next week and I will provide an update on that once the results are available.