QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2020 Methodology

QS Graduate Employability Rankings: Methodology

Which universities are producing the most employable graduates? Find out with the QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2022.

While many of the world’s top universities produce high-achieving graduates every year, employers frequently express concerns that academic institutions aren’t doing enough to prepare their students for the world of work. 

Soft skills in particular are mentioned repeatedly, while there is a notable ‘skills gap’ in some industries, notably engineering and technology.

Given the fierce competition for graduate roles around the world, students should be seriously considering how their university can prepare them adequately for full-time employment, by connecting them with global employers and ensuring they develop the necessary skills and knowledge. 

For example, one in two recent British graduates is not in graduate work - suggesting a university degree from one of the world’s most reputable universities is no longer enough by itself to guarantee career success.

If you’re concerned about your future career prospects and wondering which universities are best-placed to help you succeed, our ranking below is a great place to start.

To read more about the best-performing universities for graduate employability, click here or join in the conversation online by tweeting us @TopUnis.

Craig OCallaghan

Updated September 24, 2021 Updated September 24

The QS Graduate Employability Rankings is an innovative exercise designed to provide the world’s students with a unique tool by which they can compare university performance in terms of graduate employability outcomes and prospects.


Each institution’s score is comprised of five carefully-chosen indicators. Employer Reputation excepted, all metrics used are, currently, unique to the QS Graduate Employability Rankings. These indicators and the main methodological enhancements introduced this year are described below:


Employer reputation (30%)

QS traditionally includes the Employer Reputation as a key performance area in all its ranking exercises. Of course, this metric adopts a leading role in a ranking focused solely on employability.

The Employer Reputation metric is based on almost 75,000 responses to the QS Employer Survey, and asks employers to identify those institutions from which they source the most competent, innovative, effective graduates. The QS Employer Survey is also the world’s largest of its kind. 

Alumni outcomes (25%)

A university that values the careers of its graduates tends to produce successful alumni. Here, QS have identified the alma maters of those individuals featuring in over 150 high-achievers lists, each measuring desirable outcomes in a particular walk of life. In total, QS have analyzed more than 40,000 of the world’s most innovative, creative, wealthy, entrepreneurial, and/or philanthropic individuals to establish which universities are producing world-changing individuals. A higher weighting is applied to those individuals featured in lists focused on younger profiles, to ensure a high level of contemporary relevance. Likewise, undergraduate degrees have a higher weighting than post-graduate degrees, as it is assumed that the early stages of the higher education learning process are more formative in establishing an individual’s employability.

Partnerships with Employers per Faculty (25%)

This indicator comprises two parts. First, it uses Elsevier’s Scopus database to establish which universities are collaborating successfully with global companies to produce citable, transformative research. Only distinct companies producing two or more collaborative papers in a five-year period (2015-2019) are included in the count. This year’s ranking accounts for university collaborations with 2,000 top global companies, as listed by Fortune and Forbes.

Second, it considers work placement-related partnerships that are reported by institutions and validated by the QS research team.

Both figures are adjusted to account for the number of faculty at each university, and then combined into a composite index.

Employer/Student Connections (10%)

This indicator involves summing the number of individual employers who have been actively present on a university’s campus over the past twelve months, providing motivated students with an opportunity to network and acquire information. Employer presence also increases the opportunities that students have to participate in career-launching internships and research opportunities. This ‘active presence’ may take the form of participating in careers fairs, organizing company presentations, or any other self-promoting activities.

This count is adjusted by the number of students, accounting for the size of each institution.

Graduate employment rate (10%)

This indicator is the simplest, but essential for any understanding of how successful universities are at nurturing employability. It involves measuring the proportion of graduates (excluding those opting to pursue further study or unavailable to work) in full or part time employment within 12 months of graduation. To calculate the scores, we consider the difference between each institution’s rate and the average in the country in which they are based. To preclude significant anomalies, the results are adjusted by the range between the maximum and minimum values recorded in each country or region. This accounts for the fact that a university’s ability to foster employability will be affected by the economic performance of the country in which they are situated.

Estimated Scores
Whenever QS has not been able to collect data directly from institutions or reliable sources, a conservative estimate is used for missing records. This calculation is based on the records available from institutions based in the relevant country or region

This article was originally published in September 2017 . It was last updated in September 2021

Written by

As editor of TopUniversities.com, Craig oversees the site's editorial content and network of student contributors. He also plays a key editorial role in the publication of several guides and reports, including the QS Top Grad School Guide.

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