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

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. Here’s 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 the voices of students regarding universities’ 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. We only included the most recent reviews, from students who graduated after January 1st, 2016.

In a world where most universities rankings are created by independent organisations like THE, Top Universities, 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.

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 ESN (Erasmus Student Network), ESTIEM (European Students of Industrial Engineering and Management), and IPSF (International Pharmaceutical Students’ Federation).

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

There are six criteria used for reviewing each university:

  1. Overall satisfaction
  2. Student-teacher interaction
  3. Admission process
  4. Personal and professional growth
  5. Student diversity
  6. Quality of life

Ratings can be given from 1 to 5 and no distinction is made between local and international students. The only exception is category 3, 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. With that out of the way, let’s go through the six categories together:

1. Overall satisfaction

In this category, we asked students to mark their overall study 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. 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.

4. Personal and professional growth

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. Quality of life

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.

The Global Student Satisfaction Awards (GSSA)

We used the reviews to organise the Global Student Satisfaction Awards (GSSA) in May 2019. The main objective of this initiative was 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.


For the GSSA, we allowed each university to only be nominated in one of the six categories mentioned above. The category in which a university receives the highest score is chosen as the most representative for that institution. This was 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 in order 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 6 categories there are 3 regional nominees from The Americas, EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa), and APAC (Asia-Pacific). A world 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, on the university’s page.

GSSA 2019 winners

The GSSA took place on May 29th, 2019, in Washington, DC. Over 200 university representatives were present, including deans, provosts, and admission directors. 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?

People tend to trust others when they leave positive or negative reviews. This helps create a web of trust and allows people to make better, more informed choices. This is also true for global education and international universities. Don’t hesitate and share your review now.

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