What Are the Global Student Satisfaction Awards (GSSA) and Why They Matter

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At Studyportals, our main mission is to empower the world to choose education. We achieve this by providing quality information to our users — future international students — who want to find the perfect study programme abroad.

In order to make it even easier for students all over the world to find the international degree that fits them best, we created the Global Student Satisfaction Awards — a way to empower students to review their university and help other students make an informed decision.

How students can review universities on our portals

We always challenge ourselves to provide useful and accurate information, and we were surprised to realise that student input in university rankings were not getting enough attention.

This is why, in 2018, we implemented university reviews on our platform. The goal was to offer students a voice and allow them to express their opinion about the higher education institutions that they’ve graduated or will graduate from. We only included the most recent student reviews, from graduates who finished their studies after January 1st, 2016.

In a world where most universities rankings are created by independent organisations like Times Higher Education, TopUniversities, or U.S. News, we've felt it is important that students also have something to say about the quality and rating of educational institutions.

It's important to know that you too can review your university

How we make sure we get the best university reviews

Throughout the last years, we’ve managed to crowdsource around 195,000 student reviews. These were collected with the help of our partners, such as:

To prevent false reviews and fraudulent behaviour, we use validation systems (e.g. manual checks, email checks, contacting the reviewer). Studyportals also verifies the reviews collected by universities.

If we cannot determine that an email account is valid, we reserve the right not to take that review into consideration.

The main categories for the reviews in 2021

There are 8 criteria used for reviewing each university:

  1. Best university
  2. Student-teacher interaction
  3. Life quality of students
  4. Career development
  5. Student diversity
  6. Admission process
  7. Online classroom experience
  8. Covid-19 crisis management

Ratings can be given from 1 to 5 and no distinction is made between local and international students. The only exception is category 3 (Life quality of students), where reviews collected through ESN are not taken into account due to the high chance of them coming from exchange students, who do not normally experience a regular admission process. 

But let’s learn a bit more about each of the eight categories:

1. Best university

In this category, we asked students to mark their overall student experience at the university. This included courses, admission, personal development and other aspects.

2. Student-teacher interaction

Students had to rate their teachers and how open and engaged they were in terms of communication, feedback, and support, both during and after classes.

3. Life quality of students

We asked students to rate the overall lifestyle they had, based on their expectations and how well the city in which they lived managed to fulfil or exceed them.

4. Career development

Modern universities should help students develop not only academically but also personally and professionally. We asked students if they received support for their career development, which can come in the form of extracurricular courses, workshops, or internships related to their field of study.

5. Student diversity

In this section, universities were ranked based on their openness towards different cultures, religions, nationalities, and specific needs.

6. Admission process

Studyportals asked students to think about how difficult the admission process was, if they had enough information before applying, and what was the quality of the support received from the university staff.

7. Online classroom experience

In this section, students rate how well the university was able to adapt to teach using online environments. This includes the use of the online format, the taught content, class interaction and the overall quality of the classes.

8. Covid-19 crisis management

This section covers the measures the university took to handle the Covid-19 crisis, and how it supported the students over the duration of the pandemic.

The Global Student Satisfaction Awards 2021

We will use the reviews we collected to organise the Global Student Satisfaction Awards (GSSA) in October 2021. The main objective of this initiative is to:

  • Give students around the world a voice and allow them to rank and select the best educational institutions.
  • Help future students choose a university abroad based on the reviews of recent graduates or students who are currently enrolled at that university.
  • Inspire universities to participate and encourage their students to share the information and contribute to the transparency of study options and the quality of education worldwide.

How we select the nominees for GSSA 2021

For the GSSA, we allow each university to only be nominated for an award in one of the 8 categories mentioned above. The category in which a university receives the highest score is chosen as the most representative for that institution. This is done to encourage diversity and a better representation of the diverse interests of students.

Only universities with English-taught programmes hosted on Studyportals’ websites can participate, as this is the only way to map reviews to organisations. Universities also need at least 10 reviews to participate. We’ve made an exception for the first category (overall satisfaction), where the minimum is 30 reviews because the sample size of the rating is much larger.

For each of the 8 categories, there are 3 regional nominees from The Americas, EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa), and APAC (Asia-Pacific). A global winner is chosen out of all of them.

All universities receive medals in each category if they receive an average rating of at least 4.0. These medals will also be displayed on our portals and on the university’s page.

GSSA 2021 winners

GSSA 2021 took place online on October 14th, 2021. University representatives such as deans, provosts, and admission directors were among the participants.

Based on the reviews of thousands of students, we awarded prizes to the best universities in the world. And the grand winners were:

Find Masters at top universities abroad

Leave your review, make a difference!

Now you know what the Global Student Satisfaction Awards (GSSA) are all about. Are you ready to share your review and help prospective international students make a better choice? Don’t hesitate and share your review now.

Let’s make education more transparent for students all around the world!

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