The Australian | 11 September 2013
The 2014 Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings show that while the majority of Australian universities have slipped on the ladder of the world’s leading institutions, seven still rank in the world top 100 and twenty universities – half of the entire system – make the top 400.
The top universities in Australia were: ANU at 27 (down 3 places from last year), Melbourne, (31, up 5 places) Sydney (38, up 1 place), University of Queensland (43, up 3), University of NSW (52, steady) Monash (=69, down 8 places) and the University of Western Australia (84, down 5 places).
Other well-ranked universities that experienced big falls were Macquarie, down 30 places to 263, RMIT, down 45 to 291 and Newcastle, down 30 to 298.
Analysis of the rankings shows that with the exception of Group of Eight institutions, all other local contenders have lost ground dramatically since it was introduced in 2004.
Les Field, deputy vice-chancellor (research) at the University of NSW, says “there is now a fair bit of clear air between the Go8 and the rest of the sector”:
My rule of thumb has been that the top 200-250 in any rankings encompass the research-intensive universities around the world. Apart from the Go8, no other Australian institutions make it into the top 250.
The gap between the lowest placed Go8 member – the University of Adelaide at 104 – and the next local university, Macquarie at 263, is 159 places.
The overall downward trend was more a factor of many more universities being included in the ranking and increased competition for top 200 places, especially from institutions in Europe, Field said.
MIT beat Harvard and Cambridge to retain the top spot. The US took 11 of the top 20 positions. However, the UK claimed three of the top five spots, with Cambridge joined by the University College London ranked at number four and Imperial College London at number five.