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New Aussie universities make top 50 in world rankings

Global index of newer universities has 10 Australian institutions in the world’s top 50, the most of any country. Only universities less than 50 years old are included in the QS Top 50 Under 50, published today with the annual QS top 100 university rankings for Asia.

Within Australia, Macquarie University – founded in 1964 – leads, followed by RMIT University and the University of South Australia, both established in the early 1990s. Australia’s strong performance reflected its “economic position at the crossroads between East and West”, QS intelligence unit head Ben Sowter says. “North America is represented by just one US university and three from Canada.”

Britain has the second highest concentration in the top 50 with seven, but it is the Asian universities that dominate the highest echelon, with six in the top 10.

“New science-based institutions have been established to drive innovation and growth in booming economies such as Hong Kong, South Korea and Singapore,” Mr Sowter said. “Their superior performance compared with western universities established in the same timeframe is testament to Asia’s dynamism.”

He said there had been a boom in scientific research in Asia while Western countries had tightened their belts following the global financial crisis. “Continued growth in countries such as China, South Korea and Singapore has facilitated ambitious investment programs,” he said.

“Universities in Singapore and South Korea have benefited from multi-billion-dollar investment programs, while China doubled its main scientific research budget between 2009 and 2011.” Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, only 21 years old, outranked the University of York and the University of California, Irvine.

Germany and Spain had three young universities each in the world rankings, with at least one each making the cut from Scandinavia, France, Belgium and The Netherlands. Latin America is represented by one Brazilian university and Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have one each.

The rankings are based on research, teaching, employability and internationalisation. The new ranking notes universities formed from older existing institutions.

Younger universities have struggled to gain traction in the global league, and QS is only one ranking company that has turned attention to breaking them out of the main tables to show how they compare with peer institutions. A Times Higher Education ranking of universities under 50 years old is out on Thursday.

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