QS Intelligence Unit – Consulting Services
The QS Intelligence Unit (QSIU) offers one of the leading consulting operations specialising in higher education. We provide bespoke analysis and advisory services to assist universities in defining and advancing their performance against their own intended objectives. The team, combining QS internal expertise and a growing network of qualified external specialists is extremely versatile and can offer consulting and advisory services in a broad range of performance areas.
A university is a complex and multi-faceted institution and devising and implementing initiatives to change them is both challenging and fascinating. The performance of universities cannot be adequately captured through any ranking, rather rankings can be seen as a barometer for certain aspects of a universities performance. Furthermore, in reality all university rankings have a natural time lag, meaning that performance in rankings today, for better or worse, may be the result of leadership decisions made 3-5 years ago, in some cases longer still. As a result, QSIU keeps its rankings and primary research operation separate from its reporting and advisory operations and the consulting team decline any engagement focused specifically on improving an institution’s position in rankings, and the team of consultants neither work on, nor have influence over the compilation of the rankings.
Every institution is different, both in terms of their individual characteristics and their stage of development and as a result QSIU has delivered consulting in over a dozen distinctly defined areas and each offering is different. The offerings have been split into a selection of adaptive modules. Inevitably the scale, depth and duration of any given engagement is influenced by the number of modules undertaken and the depth and detail required by each specific client.

The engagement between QS Consulting and Adlas focuses on the following modules:

  • Pre-Rankings Participation
  • QS Stars
  • QS Training & Support
  • QS Academic Branding & Promotion
  • QS Consult - Online Impact Audit & Accelerator Strategy
Double Espresso:
  • QS Academic Branding & Promotion Lite
  • QS Stars
  • QS International Partnership Identification
  • QS Moveon International Partnership Management
  • QS Bespoke Employer Survey
  • QS Consult-Employability Startegy
Performance Improvement:
  • QS Benchmarking
  • Post-Rankings Participation
  • QS Consult-Strategic Review
  • QS Consult-Research Strategy

QS Consulting Team

QS Consulting has a team of experienced and specialist consultants, all of whom are able to significantly contribute to a range of Higher Education issues. In addition, we are able to access a network of colleagues who are considered to be the leaders in their areas of expertise, advising on the creation and management of a number of internationally renowned universities and business schools. The staff resource we are able to draw upon is global and unparalleled and reflects the latest knowledge within the Higher Education sector.
Our in-house and external team experience comprises:
Leading international consultants, who consulted to over 50 higher education institutions in over 20 countries, and educators, who work or have worked at Columbia University, London Business School, London School of Economics, Politecnico di Milano, La Trobe University, Macquarie University, and Other universities in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East.
Vast experience in advising on strategy, internationalisation, governance, performance improvement, quality management, operations, project management, change management, technology strategy, implementation, research strategy, international student recruitment and mobility, marketing, institutional branding, media strategies and other areas.

The key project contributors would be:

Nunzio Quacquarelli

Nunzio has a MBA at The Wharton School in the US (consistently ranked top 5 worldwide), wherehe won the Gloeckner Award for Management, after gaining an MA at the University of Cambridge in England. At Wharton, Nunzio also led the team that won the Moot Corp Business Venture Award in 1990, in competition with teams from the entire top US and European business schools.
Before starting his own business, Nunzio worked in strategy consulting for Mercer Management Consulting and Bain & Company, in the UK and Italy. For over 15 years, Nunzio has written regularly for The Times on management education and careers, and is also a contributor to other key media around the world such as The Guardian (UK), Handelsblatt (Germany), South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and Corriere della Sera (Italy) and it is regularly interviewed by Bloomberg Business week, Financial Times and other leading business and general interest media. Nunzio is responsible for the annual Applicant Survey. He is also the author of the TopMBA Jobs & Salary Trends Report and the QS Global 200 Business Schools: The MBA Employer’s Choice, and the producer of several key industry annual reports.
Nunzio is internationally recognized as an authority on the strengths, weaknesses and specialisations of business schools and universities around the world. He is regularly invited to address government education officials and speak at conferences and seminars on matters of global higher education, careers and curriculum development.

Dr. Kevin Downing
Chief Consultant

Dr. Kevin Downing is Director of Knowledge, Enterprise and Analysis at City University of Hong Kong, Chair of the Middle East and Africa Professional Leaders in Education academic committee and Editor-in-Chief of Educational Studies. Kevin’s expertise and portfolios have included strategic and academic planning, institutional research, quality assurance and liaison with the Universities Grants Committee of Hong Kong. He has overall responsibility for rankings on behalf of City University of Hong Kong who have risen from 198th in 2004 to 110th in 2011 World University Rankings.He is nowChief Consultant to QS Quacquarelli Symonds and a member of the QS APPLE and Chair of the QS MAPLE academic organising committees.
Dr. Downing is a Chartered Psychologist and Chartered Scientist with a current Licence to Practice and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society with wide international experience including senior academic and administrative posts in Europe and Asia. His substantial published work centres on psychology, education and metacognitive development.
Dr. Downing was awarded the City University of Hong Kong Teaching Excellence Award in 2004/2005 for his contribution to the development of blended learning with the innovative use of technology. He successfully developed learning and teaching environments that promote active student engagement. He is also the recipient of the prestigious International Award for Innovative use of Technology in Teaching and Learning conferred in the USA in April 2004.

Graham Hastie
Senior Consultant

Graham Hastie has over 15 years of experience in strategy consulting and higher education. As a consultant with McKinsey and Company, he has advised many successful global companies on a wide variety of business issues, with a particular focus on corporate strategy, change management and operational improvement. As strategy director of the London Business School, Graham led the school’s strategy development and several other departments; including strategic projects, change management, marketing, communications, career services, fundraising and rankings. The LBS MBA programme is ranked as the best in the world by the Financial Times. Graham also advised on, and participated in, setting up the school’s first overseas operation in Dubai, UAE.
Graham now works as an independent consultant in the Higher Education sector with a focus on strategy development, market positioning, career services and rankings. He is recognised as a world expert on business school rankings. Clients include LBS and Cass Business Schools in London, SDA Bocconi (Milan, Italy), IMD (Lausanne, Switzerland), GMAC Africa and QS Consulting (Saudi Arabia).
Graham has a MBA with distinction from INSEAD (Fontainebleau, Singapore and Abu Dhabi) and a MEng with distinction from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. In his previous career, he worked as an electronics engineer in Germany and the UK, where he was recognised as a Chartered Engineer (CEng, MIEE). Graham is also a Sainsbury Management Fellow (SMF), an alumnus of Columbia Business School in New York and an honorary alumnus of London Business School.

Paul W. Thurman
Senior Consultant

Paul W. Thurman has twenty years of senior management consulting and line management experience in a wide range of industries and across numerous business functions. His consulting and management experience spans strategic visioning, operations and change management, and technology strategy and implementation.
Paul also serves as Professor at the Columbia University School of Public and International Affairs and Mailman School of Public Health, where he teaches courses in data analysis, strategic management, and program evaluation. He has been the MBA Director, Professor and Research Fellow at Moscow School f Management SKOLKOVO in Russia. He also served on the faculties of the Columbia Business School, the London Business School, and the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. For these graduate business schools, he has also served as thesis advisor to many student-sponsored research efforts, including several successful start-ups. His consulting and teaching experience is covers five continents and more than 15 countries.
He has authored and published several peer-reviewed papers and books including “MBA Fundamentals of Statistics” published by Kaplan Publishing and “Pocket Guide to Statistics”. He also published “MBA Fundamentals of Strategy” with co-author Professor. Thomas P. Ference. In late 2010, his applied research compendium, “Female Immigrant Entrepreneurship”, co-edited with colleagues from the Hellenic American University, was published by Gower.

Ben Sowter
Head of QSIU

Ben is from Nottingham, England. After moving around a lot, he returned to the University of Nottingham where he undertook a BSc in Computer Science. Upon graduation, Ben spent two years working for the UK national office of international student charity, AIESEC, for which he was ultimately elected National President.
Ben leads the QS Intelligence Unit who are fully responsible for the operational management of all major QS research projects including the QS Top MBA Applicant and Recruiter Research, the QS World University Rankings® and the QS Asian University Rankings.
Ben has travelled to over 40 countries and spoken on his research in over 20. He has personally visited over 35 of the world’s top 100 universities amongst countless others and is also a regular speaker on the conference circuit.
Ben is married with a one-year old son but if he had any free time it would be spent reading, watching movies and skiing.

Hillol Nag
Manager – Advisory Services QSIU

Mr. Hillol Nag is passionate about comparative Higher Education and cross learning opportunities which exist among various national Higher Education policies and practices. He recently co-authored a chapter in the ‘Handbook of Research on Higher Education in the MENA Region: Policy and Practice’ collated by the Ministry of Higher Education - Sultanate of Oman. This work examines the need for a paradigm shift in the area of post-secondary education and innovation in the emerging, yet relatively understudied, MENA region. Mr. Nag regularly advises a wide range of universities (state and private) across Asia, Oceania, Middle-East, Eastern Europe and Latin America on issues such as Performance KPIs, Institutional Research, Quality, Accreditations, Strategic Planning, Research Strategy, Internationalisation, Branding and Employers Engagement. Hillol hails from India and has a particular interest in the Higher Education scenario in Asian countries which is ever evolving but at the same time faces unique challenges.
Mr. Nag brings in his broad corporate experience to Higher Education sector specifically in terms of how quality, performance and operational efficiency ought to be perceived. He has over 10 years of experience in advising global organisations on Strategy and Performance/Process Improvement.
As a qualified Project Manager he has delivered transformation programs to a broad range of clientele. In QS Intelligence Unit, he is currently leading an advisory service line that focusses on Global Higher Education with a team of experts.
Hillol has an undergraduate degree in engineering which is complemented by a post graduate business administration degree from Cranfield School of Management, UK. During his MBA he focused on Strategy, Marketing and Operational Transformation. He was also the elected student body representative for his cohort. Mr. Nag has lived and worked in 3 continents and visited over 17 nations for advisory work and assisted development programs in more than 20 universities.

Dr. Shadi Hijazi
Senior Consultant QSIU

Dr. Hijazi is trained in management and organisation theory with multinational experience. He holds a PhD in Business Administration from Kobe University in Japan, where his study addressed the interaction between business performance and knowledge management tools. He investigated the quality of information systems from the point of view of the user, and his PhD dissertation focused on the training methods used by Japanese companies to create a “Knowledgeable Sales Force”.
Shadi is currently a consultant with QS Intelligence Unit, where he has been delivering analysis pieces and consulting engagements in universities around the world. He has been particularly involved in strategy, change management and research policy projects in the higher education sector in Arabic countries.
He has previously consulted SMEs and entrepreneurs in Japan and the Middle East on enhancing the overall strategy and business vision, improving feasibility studies, and formulating media strategies. He also worked as a part of a larger team in international inter-disciplinary program in Japan.
He is a seasoned instructor, trainer and presenter. He has trained professionals on strategy and business fundamentals in various contexts (executive development program, private instructing and business courses). He is experienced in teaching Business, Strategy and Research Methodology, and has been teaching digital marketing courses for CIM/CAM Diplomas and Digital Marketing Institute certifications with London School of Marketing since 2010.
Shadi is highly numerical, and combines qualitative and quantitative methodologies in his work as an analyst and consultant, and in his research and teaching. He is also skilled in research software and web solutions. Shadi speaks English, Arabic and Japanese, and was awarded the Japanese Government (Monbukagakusho) Research Scholarship for Postgraduate Study.