Our History

Our History 2017-06-23T14:55:27+00:00

From humble beginnings

QS was founded by Cambridge MA and Wharton MBA, Nunzio Quacquarelli, in 1990.

Nunzio’s family emigrated to the UK in the 1950s and he was the first member of his Italian family to go to University. The path to studying at an elite university, or studying abroad has always been difficult and whilst at Wharton he decided to dedicate himself to making the journey more transparent and straight forward for future generations.


A bright idea

QS started as a student project at The Wharton School, publishing career and education guides for international studnets and featuring exclusive interviews with President Bill Clinton, and CEOs of top employers at the time including Goldman Sachs, McKinsey and PepsiCo. QS was the first private business to be given office space on the Wharton Campus –one of the first business school incubator companies in the world. In 1990, QS won the MootCorp Business Plan competition, whilst representing Wharton, against competition from Harvard, London Business School and Stanford entries and Nunzio was also awarded the Glockner Prize for Management in his final year at the school.

A growing company

QS moved its headquarters from the US to the UK in 1991 and continued to develop its services for international students. The first clients of QS included many of the world’s top business schools – Wharton, Chicago, NYU, London Business School, IE Business School, INSEAD, HEC, IESE and SDA Bocconi all of which remain active clients today. QS launched our first Global Employer Survey and Global Applicant Survey and Global Academic Survey in 1991 – cornerstones of our research ever since.

As early as 1994 QS started launching websites as well as a global  recruitment ‘tours’ connecting students and Admissions Directors from these top schools.

By the turn of the millennium QS was already the leading supplier of international postgraduate candidates to top business schools and universities around the world. We were able to survey a global audience of prospective students about their needs and it became very clear that students wanted a global ranking system of universities to enable international comparison. Nunzio turned to his good friend, John O’Leary, former Education Editor at The Times to collaborate on producing the first World University Ranking. After four years of research and dialogue with stakeholders and university Presidents we launched our inaugural ranking in 2004, with QS Employer and Academic surveys underpinning the methodology which has become so respected around the world.

Our mission serves society and inspires everyone working at QS: To enable motivated people around the world to fulfil their potential by fostering international mobility, educational achievement and career development.
Nunzio Quacquarelli, Managing Director, QS Quacquarelli Symonds

From strength to strength

Since 2004, QS has innovated and launched over 50 new international ranking systems. QS Star Ratings have been adopted by over 400 Universities and is today the largest university wide ‘accreditation system’. QS has developed the QS Intelligence Unit into the most trusted, independent and global research house in higher education and developed a wide range of research and best-practice consulting services which have gained the respect of University leaders around the world.

In 2009 QS set up QS Unisolution as a specialist software supplier to meet the growing need of universities seeking to internationalize. Hiring a team of specialists in Erasmus Student Exchange in Germany, QS Unisolution has developed the world’s leading software as a service solution for student mobility, partnership management and internationalization.


Continuing to move forward

Today, technology underpins everything QS is involved in and technical innovations keep us far ahead of our competition across our full-service range. QS is often copied but never outperformed. In figures:

  • Over 200 million people view QS rankings on our official sites (three times as many as any other international ranking)
  • Over 2 million ‘currently active’ prospective students have joined QS membership communities
  • Over 250,000 prospective students register for QS events
  • Over 70,000 academics complete of Global Academic Survey (the largest in the world)
  • Over 45,000 employers complete our Global Employer Survey (the largest in the world)
  • Over 3000 universities and colleges are engaged with QS