European Teaching Excellence Rankings: FAQs

We answer some of your questions about the new Times Higher Education European Teaching Excellence Rankings

February 1, 2018
A university teacher in a classroom
Source: iStock

Times Higher Education is developing its first European Teaching Excellence Rankings, to be released at the THE Teaching Excellence Summit in Glasgow in July 2018. Unlike the research-led THE World University Rankings, the rankings, building on the success of the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education US College Rankings, will have student engagement and student learning at their heart.

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will the rankings do that other rankings do not already do?

University league tables do not do a great job of capturing and rewarding excellence in teaching.

While the Times Higher Education World University Rankings are designed for research-intensive global universities and are dominated by indicators of research excellence, THE’s data team has pioneered new teaching-led rankings, focusing on teaching excellence and student success.

A major innovation was THE’s Student Survey, a poll of students at European institutions that explores not their satisfaction with university facilities, services and tuition, but rather their engagement with learning. A series of questions examine the extent of students’ immersion in the intellectual and social life of their institutions, how accessible they find their professors, and if they would recommend their college experience to others.

Who will THE be ranking?

The aim is to evaluate multilevel and multi-faculty institutions in nine European countries that have a minimum of 5,000 students enrolled at International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED 6), bachelor’s degree or equivalent level.

What is the time frame?

Data collection started in October 2017 and will conclude at the end of March 2018. During this period, data will be collected from students via the student survey and from institutions via the THE data collection portal. 

will the rankings be published?

The THE European Teaching Excellence Rankings will be published online and launched at the THE Teaching Excellence Summit in Glasgow on 10 July 2018. Printed supplements are available from 12 July.


Inclusion criteria


are the inclusion criteria?

The institution must:

  • be located in a country that is a full member of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) and classified as a “developed economy” based on United Nations (UN) country classifications
  • be located in an Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) country
  • offer courses and programmes leading to an officially recognised higher education degree such as a bachelor’s award or equivalent degree
  • be focused on more than one subject area       
  • have a minimum of, or more than, 5,000 students enrolled (at ISCED 6, bachelor’s or equivalent level)
  • have a minimum of 50 valid student survey responses
  • have submitted institutional data via the THE data collection portal

Will all participating institutions be ranked?

Inclusion will depend on the quality of data available and the completeness of datasets. For example, we might exclude institutions if we do not receive sufficient valid responses from the student survey, or if direct submissions are not sufficiently complete. We also reserve the right to use editorial judgement in exceptional cases. However, our intention is to provide a ranking of all qualifying institutions.




What weight will you apply to each metric?

The final weights will be decided after consultation, when all the data have been analysed and the metrics scored. The weights will be disclosed in the full methodology that we will publish with the rankings.

Do you have
a detailed description of all the data fields?

Yes. We are providing a data collection portal guide that explains the key aspects of the data collection process, including data field definitions and further personnel-related definitions under the FAQ section.

Are you considering measuring the impact of schools’ research and teaching on business, organisational and policy practice?

The focus of these rankings will be teaching quality, rather than research excellence, and asking students specific questions about their learning experience. 
We are, however, open to adding external measures of teaching quality if the right data can be gathered. Indicators that are universal (ie, comparable across all countries) and likely to be either (1) gathered by all schools, or (2) found in reliable public datasets (such as those from the OECD or World Bank indicators) would be good sources. 
On the subject of research, measuring an institution’s research production is possible and we do so in one of our metrics. Here, we try to capture whether the teaching is research-informed and whether teachers contribute to knowledge and science.

Is your rankings process verified independently?

We intend to use PwC to provide an assurance audit, ie, validate that our data gathering and analyses are correct and correspond to our methodology.

Draft pillars, metrics and weightings 

European Teaching Excellence Rankings graphic

Data collection




What are your data sources?

Data will be sourced from:

  • direct submissions from institutions through our portal for the majority of our Resources and Environment metrics 
  • student survey: asking students for feedback on a variety of Engagement questions, conducted for THE by Streetbees
  • Academic Reputation Survey, providing teaching reputation data for the Outcome pillar
  • Elsevier for all bibliometric data
  • public sources: the OECD, World Bank, European Tertiary Education Register (ETER), statistical agencies, ministries of education...) for reference data


How do you validate data submitted by universities?

Data will be cross-checked against external sources, at our discretion, and we reserve the right to investigate institutions where we believe inappropriate data collection or submission has taken place.

Student survey

Who will
the student survey target?

If the institution decides to run their own campaign, one of the following options has to be chosen:

  • all students who are over 18 years old
  • all undergraduates who are over 18
  • a random sample of all students who are over 18
  • a random sample of all undergraduates who are over 18.


Is there a minimum requirement in terms of responses from the student survey?

Yes. In order to be considered for participation in the THE European Teaching Excellence Rankings, an institution needs to have 50 or more valid responses.


How will
the student survey be administered?

The THE European Student Survey is an international study of the university experience for students across Europe conducted for THE by Streetbees. The campaign is run by StreetBees, they contact the institution and also recruit the respondents. However, THE is offering institutions the option to run their own campaign in parallel with Streetbees.


What questions
will you ask students?

The aim is to ask a core set of questions to find out about students’ engagement with their learning. A series of questions examines the depth of students’ immersion in the intellectual and social life of their institutions, how accessible they find their professors, and if they would recommend their college experience to others.


Will you share the survey instrument with institutions?

Yes. We will share the questions (the survey template) with institutions when requested to do so.  

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