The University of Santo Tomas (UST) is the first higher education institution (HEI) in the Philippines to achieve a five-star rating from international education network and analytics provider Quacquarelli Symonds (QS). The rating, a result of passing the third review cycle of the QS Stars application, will be valid until June 25, 2024.
UST obtained a rating of five stars for the Core Criteria of Teaching, Employability, Internationalization, and Facilities, while scoring four Stars for Academic Development. For the Advanced Criteria, the areas of Arts and Culture and Inclusiveness, three stars were given. For the Specialist Criteria, QS gave a five-star rating to the University’s Doctor of Medicine program under the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, which recently celebrated its 150th anniversary in May 2021.
Ratings offer an in-depth picture of the strengths and weaknesses of a university in specific areas and compares the performance of HEIs to set standards, unlike rankings, which compares HEI performance against each other, the QS website explained.
According to the QS white paper “What does it take to get five stars?”, there are several thresholds that HEIs must meet to achieve an overall five-star rating, including an overall score of over 700 out of 1000 points, five percent of faculty members and the student body should be international, high scores in the learning environment and employability category. Should an institution advance to having five stars across all categories and hit an overall point score of 900 or more, the overall rating will be the maximum rank of “5+ Stars”.
Each category also has its own criteria. For example, securing a five-star rating in the Employability and Teaching categories, like UST has done, includes meeting or nearing standards like having a high student satisfaction rating and in continuous improvement with regards to faculty to student ratio.
The remarkably high graduate Employment Rate of Thomasians was also recognized by QS.
University facilities, which include student services like medical services, accommodation facilities, sports facilities, and student organizations, also received five stars.
UST’s internationalization efforts were also commended. As of 2021, according to the UST website, it has around 170 partner universities in 32 countries, which has resulted in various transnational research endeavors, dual degree programs, joint activities, exchange programs, and more.
The Specialist Criteria, the Doctor of Medicine program, had a perfect score in graduate employability and high scores in completion rate and student satisfaction and accreditation.
Faculty development programs and membership in HEI networks, under the Academic Development category, were rated with four stars.
Arts and Culture received a rating of three stars. This category looks at artistic and cultural accolades, events, exhibitions, and community art and cultural investment. Inclusiveness, which focused on scholarship funds, accessibility considerations, and gender balance, also received three stars.
In 2015, UST became the first QS four-star HEI in the Philippines, a recognition which was again received by the University in 2017.