Four of Australia’s top universities have scored highly in the world reputation rankings and are looking good for a further boost next year.
The University of Melbourne, the Australian National University and the universities of Sydney and Queensland are in The Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings top 100 for the second year running, with improved results.
Melbourne, ANU and Sydney are in the top 50, Melbourne at 43 (up from 45), ANU at 44 (up from 51-60) and Sydney at 50 (up from 51-60). Queensland has leapt into the 71-80 band, from 81-90 last year.
“There’s clearly a sense out there that the stock of the Australian universities is rising,” Times higher education rankings editor Phil Baty said.
The reputation survey asked 17,554 academics to nominate up to 15 of “the best” institutions in their field of expertise. Universities Australia chairman Glyn Davis, the Melbourne vice-chancellor, was “delighted to see a range of Australian universities acknowledged”.
“I know there are many others that are on the verge of breaking into the top group,” Professor Davis said.
Sydney’s acting vice-chancellor Stephen Garton said the data was important for international students and UQ acting vice-chancellor Debbie Terry said its result showed the “brand continues to be an asset”. But ANU vice-chancellor Ian Young dismissed rankings as “a very blunt and imprecise measure” of the diversity of talent and excellence on all campuses.
Mr Baty said difficulties in the international student market might have perversely acted in Australia’s favour, bringing it to attention via the media. “Maybe the problems . . . also highlighted how successful Australia has been previously and (it) is now regaining (that success) in that marketplace,” he said.
Mr Baty detected a possible benefit in being part of the Asia-Pacific. “There is a renewed sense of that geographic area in general being an exciting place.”
This contrasted with funding cuts to US public universities and changes to fees in Britain. Harvard topped the rankings, followed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Stanford, the University of California, Berkeley and Oxford.
Mr Baty said Australia should perform well in the rankings next year given certain events since the survey, such as ANU astrophysicist Brian Schmidt’s Nobel Prize, the Knight review and a sense of Australia being “sensible with its student visa regulation”.