This week, the 17th edition of the QS World University Rankings was released, revealing the top performing universities out of 1,604 global contenders.
The rankings are the world's most-consulted, most-covered source of comparative information about university performance and evaluate institutions according to academic reputation; employer reputation; faculty/student ratio; citations per faculty; international faculty ratio and international student ratio.
Five Australian universities ranked in the top 50, with Australia National University retaining its number one position and the University of Sydney climbing two places to rank 40th globally and 2nd in Australia. The University of Melbourne, which ranked second last year, dropped three places to third nationally and 41st globally.
The University of Sydney’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Michael Spence said the result for his institution was “a timely reminder” of its global standing.
“An important contributor to our success in these highly-regarded rankings is the quality of our research across all disciplines, and how frequently it is cited by others,” Dr Spence said.
“High quality research ultimately generates the greatest benefits for our communities”.
The University of Queensland also increased its standing in the Rankings, coming in at number 46 worldwide and taking out the top spot for Queensland.
UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj AC said the result showed the university continued to deliver on its vision, with several high-profile research projects already on-track to change the world.
“Seeing UQ increase its ranking for the second consecutive year, in the face of a highly competitive domestic and international market, demonstrates the strength and quality of the scientific research produced here at UQ and the changemakers behind these ideas,” Professor Høj said.
“Many thousands of scientific papers were published over the citation window under a tremendous spirit of collegiality between researchers, students and professional staff, who come together across the spectrum of academia to share these new ideas with the world”.
Another top performer was Monash University, which climbed three places to rank 55th globally and 6th in Australia. It’s the seventh consecutive year the University has improved in performance in the Rankings.
“Our ground-breaking research, world-class teaching and highly international outlook is core to the fabric of our University,” Monash University President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Margaret Gardner AC, said.
“Our excellence is enhanced through the truly international reach of Monash - our students, staff, campuses and partners - and collaboration with industry to maximise the impact of our research and education”.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology took out the top spot globally for the eighth consecutive year, ahead of Stanford University, which was ranked second ahead of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), which edged out the University of Oxford for the fourth spot.
Aussie universities ‘doing an outstanding job’
Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said the results of the latest Rankings “again confirm the international competitiveness of Australia’s universities”.
“While there are several different international rankings of universities, all with differing assessment criteria, Australian universities’ consistent performance shows that they’ve been doing an outstanding job,” Jackson told The Educator.
“International rankings are one of the main sources of information used by international students when they’re choosing a study destination. The high quality of Australia’s universities is, not surprisingly, one of the key factors that attracts international students to this country”.
Jackson said Australia’s reputation as a safe place with an enviable lifestyle also plays a part.
“Looking ahead over the next few years, how Australia has dealt with the coronavirus only makes us a better place to study,” she said.
Jackson pointed to the results of a 2018 survey of more than 80,000 international tertiary students which found that the quality of teaching, the reputation of the qualification, and personal safety and security were the top three factors for deciding to study in Australia.
“Whatever the post-COVID 19 future holds, students can be assured that the quality of both the teaching and qualifications from Australian universities will remain world class”.