Student-to-Faculty Ratio

The student-to-faculty ratio is the chief indicator of teaching quality in the World’s Best Colleges.

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How is the widely used student-to-faculty ratio measure incorporated into the World's Best Colleges and Universities rankings?

A Student-to-Faculty Ratio is, at present, the only globally comparable and available indicator that has been identified to address the stated objective of evaluating teaching quality for the U.S. News World's Best Colleges rankings, which are based on data from the THE-QS World University Rankings produced in association with QS Quacquarelli Symonds. Clearly, this ratio is not a comprehensive qualitative classroom evaluation. It does measure the "commitment to teaching," which ought to correlate strongly with the level of teaching quality.

For the calculation of this indicator, QS gathers two distinct data sets:

  • Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) Students: QS requests a number of data points pertaining to students. At present, the total student numbers are drawn from the separate undergraduate and postgraduate numbers supplied to QS. Where this data is unavailable or incomplete, total student body numbers are used.
  • Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) Faculty: The faculty numbers used are totals. It would be ideal to separate the teaching and research faculties and use the former for calculating this indicator and the latter for the Citations per Faculty indicator, but it has not been possible to do so because data that specific have so far been unavailable for many countries in the study. The definition of exactly what data we request has evolved over the years to minimize ambiguity.

Student-to-Faculty Ratio is a commonly used measure in many evaluations and rankings around the world. There are countless different ways to calculate it. QS collects data not only directly from the institutions themselves but also from government ministries, Web sources, and other third parties. Where it's possible, the data are cross-checked against multiple sources to verify authenticity.