Despite the rapid rise of regional rivals, Australian universities have maintained their position in Times Higher Education’s latest World University Rankings.
Over a third of Australia’s 37 ranked universities have risen in the rankings over the last year, while only seven have fallen. In New Zealand, four of the eight ranked universities improved their rankings, while only one fell backward. Given “the very clearly increased competition at the top of the tables,” THE’s chief knowledge officer Phil Baty praised the “strong and stable” results. He claimed that since a new methodology was introduced in 2016, the top institutions in Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Japan, and mainland China had all achieved their highest rankings.
Mr. Baty warned against being complacent. “It will take some time for the full effects of the pandemic to filter through into the rankings – and, of course, the knock-on effects of reduced revenues could be seen for years,” he said. The impact of the pandemic was captured in the second of two reputation surveys, as well as the last five years of bibliometric data, which together account for about two-thirds of ranking scores.
However, pre-Covid data such as infrastructural income and student and staff numbers were used. To date, Australasian universities have primarily been invulnerable to competitive rivalry from mainland China, where 16 of the top 20 universities ascended the league table, led by Peking University, which jumped into the top 20 and tied for 16th place with Tsinghua University. Six Australian universities were ranked in the top 100, and another six were ranked in the top 200. While the top-ranked University of Melbourne dropped two spots to 33rd, Monash University and the University of Queensland (UQ) both climbed more than a dozen spots.
They were part of a group of Australian universities ranked 54th to 58th, which included the Australian National University and the University of Sydney. UQ and Monash both saw significant increases in their industry income scores.
Western Sydney University surpassed seven Australian rivals to enter the world’s top 250 universities. The University of Auckland, New Zealand’s top university, climbed ten places to join 137th place. Vice-chancellor Dawn Freshwater praised Auckland’s hardworking faculty, international research collaborations, accomplishment in sustaining international students, and Ph.D. output.
In another part of the region, the University of the South Pacific, a unique institution spread across 12 island nations, has secured it’s first THE ranking, putting an end to a difficult year of leadership issues.