THE announces a new ranking for online learning

Online Learning Rankings will benchmark universities on resources, outcomes, student engagement and learning environment 

November 23, 2023
Online lecture illustrating US universities plans for autumn classes
Source: iStock

Times Higher Education has announced a new league table measuring universities’ performance in online learning.

The results for the inaugural edition of the Online Learning Rankings will be launched in December 2024.  

Participating universities will be ranked on four criteria, including the resources devoted to online learning, student engagement, student outcomes and the environment for online learning.

The initiative responds to the growing pool of universities adopting online learning for its flexibility and to accommodate a diverse range of learning styles, explained Billy Wong, THE’s data scientist.

“We want to help students understand, much better, the places that are providing an online learning experience and we think this will provide universities with invaluable insights into their online provisions,” he said of the rationale behind the new rankings.

Resources measured include people, finance, training and support towards online education. The level of student engagement will assess interaction with teachers and fellow students, as well as the online system’s usability and convenience. Data such as graduation rate, progress rate and student recommendations will be used to gauge outcomes. Meanwhile, learning environment criteria will cover technical support and offline resources as well as the community experience for students and staff. 

Institutions from around the world are eligible to take part in the Online Learning Rankings if they provide an accredited undergraduate or postgraduate programme where students’ engagement of teaching, learning and assessments are through online methods. A business school or degree alone do not meet this criteria; institutions must also hold valid accreditation from their national body and be of good academic standing.

The league table joins a growing suite of university rankings at THE, noted Duncan Ross, the company’s chief data officer.

“This year alone we launched ground-breaking new rankings on Sub-Saharan Africa and interdisciplinary science and [we] will continue to push new boundaries in the work we do and the services we provide,” he said.

The data collection portal for the Online Learning Rankings will be open from April to June 2024. Interested universities can find out more information about participation here.

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Reader's comments (2)

Will THE be separating results from internal institutionally run online programs and programs where they partner with an OPM?
Hello and thanks for the question. We are agnostic in regard to how institutions provide their online programmes, whether those are developed in house or outsourced. We will consider courses delivered with an OPM – the key thing is that the course has to be backed by and configured by the institution, with significant input from within.