QS Stars Ratings Explained

QS Staff Writer

Updated July 26, 2022 Updated July 26

Find out what the new QS Stars rating system can tell you about a university, and what to expect from an institution with highest 'Five Star Plus' rating.

QS Stars awards universities with a rating of between One and Five Plus Stars, depending on their performance in at least seven categories amongst the following: Research, Teaching, Employability, Internationalisation, Academic Development, Facilities, Online Learning, Innovation, Arts and Culture, Inclusiveness, Social Responsibility, Environmental Impact, and Specialist Criteria.

The rating system aims to give prospective students an additional tool to use when choosing a university, providing deeper insights into individual institutions.

So, what can you expect from each level of university?

Five Stars Plus rating


A university with Five Stars Plus Rating is not just world-class, but an elite destination to which the very best students and faculty worldwide will aspire. Its brand name will transform the résumé of anyone connected with it. Such institutions have Five Star ratings in all the categories they have been assessed at the time of ratings. 

These institutions are also known to have various advance technological equipment to facilitate learner’s training and practice. They make students industry ready with almost 100% employment rates after graduation. The graduates from such institutions are hired by the world most reputed organisations who are often industry leaders. They attract a huge cohort of international students on account of their excellent pedagogical teaching and high-end facilities, which stimulate the development of student personalities.  

These institutions are leaders in research projects that are of great significance at national and international level. The performance of such institutions is considered as Outstanding in the QS Stars rating system. Five Stars Plus can apply equally to the world’s foremost comprehensive and specialist institutions.

Five Star rating


A university with Five Stars rating is generally world class in almost all the categories. Such institutions enjoy a high reputation internationally, attracting a high number of international students from all over the world. These universities have cutting-edge facilities, helping them undertake complex research projects of great importance at national and international levels. 

They possess a highly qualified faculty with staff from across the world, offering curriculums that leave students ready for work in many industries. For this reason, employers generally recruit students from such institutions directly after they’ve graduated. The performance of such institutions is considered as Excellent in the QS Stars rating system.

Four Star rating


A university with a rating of Four Stars has already achieved international recognition and standards. These institutions attract international students and faculty members as they provide an environment for advanced learning and development. These institutions are also known to have moderately advanced facilities on campus. 

These institutions play a significant role in the national education system, as they demonstrate the potential to grow into world-class education institutions in the near future. The performance of such institutions is considered as Very Good in the QS Stars rating system.

Three Star rating


A university with a Three Star rating is well-recognised nationally and may have also begun to attract international recognition. This institution maintains a reputable level of teaching and its graduates are attractive to employers. 

These institutions show potential in achieving international education standards and undertake complex research activities, experimenting with pedagogical teaching. The performance of such institutions is considered Good in the QS Stars rating system.


Two Star rating


A university with a rating of Two Stars has an established domestic reputation and may have started undertaking research. The institution is a key part of its local community and will often have begun to consider international opportunities. The performance of such institutions is considered as Moderate in the QS Stars rating system.

One Star rating


A university with a One Star rating has established all the key components required to provide a quality service to its students and, in many cases, the foundations upon which to build a stronger domestic reputation. 

A One Star institution will often have been established within the last twenty years and will be putting in place the leadership and ambition to develop quickly. The performance of such institutions is considered as Satisfactory in the QS Stars rating system.

This article was originally published in November 2012 . It was last updated in July 2022


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