When a new academic year approaches, the latest QS World Rankings can’t be far behind. With the top flight of Australian universities usually remaining unchanged in three of the leading institutional tables; the US News Best Global Universities Rankings, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings (THE), and the Shanghai Jiao Tong University China Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU SHJT), this year’s QS World Rankings reveals Australian universities surging up the table, and one Australian university knocking the formidable University of Melbourne off the top spot.
Released annually by the British consultancy Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), the motivation behind the QS World Rankings is largely geared towards the sector-shift towards international study. As one of the most respected university rankings in the world, although not without its detractors, the QS World Rankings serves to equalize the highly contested sphere of student-facing reputation, by using a wealth of performance indicators to assess reputation, student experience, and research impact. What this means for Australian universities, a group of fine institutions fast becoming the location of choice for enthusiastic students in Asia and Oceania, and English-speaking students across the world, is that the traditional hegemony of the University of Melbourne has been overthrown by the Australian National University, which has now moved into the top 25 of world universities.
Having previously worked in collaboration with the prominent Times Higher Education Rankings, QS World Rankings has, since 2010, provided its own methodology and metrics, which has attracted its fair share of criticism. Whether the QS World Rankings’ lack of emphasis on employer reputation is a positive or a negative aspect is up to the job-hungry graduate to decide. But with this in mind, the QS World Rankings does provide a wealth of data for those students and parents interested in reputation and performance. This year’s Australia top 10, with overall position in the world rankings shown in brackets, is:
1 (25) The Australian National University
2 (33) The University of Melbourne
4 (37) The University of Sydney
5 (43) The University of Queensland
6 (48) The University of New South Wales
7 (70) Monash University Australia
8 (89) The University of Western Australia
9 (100) The University of Adelaide Australia
10 (254) Macquarie University
Coming in at an impressive 25th place overall, up 2 from last year, the Australian National University, which commonly holds the number 2 spot in the THE, US News, and ARWU SHJT Rankings, finds itself ranking 8 places above the usual leader of other rankings, the University of Melbourne. With a commendable 9 universities making it into the top 100, this year’s performance is a reflection of a wider trend that has seen Australian universities creeping up the global tables. This positive trend seems set to continue, in 2011 Australia boasted 8 institutions in the top 10, in 2012, only 7, and now in 2014 they have bettered their 2011 high. As a reflection of an increased commitment to research and teaching, as well as playing a key role in the global academic shift towards entrepreneurship and employability, Australian universities continue to rank in the global academic elite.