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Melbourne University makes the top 50

 15 August 2014

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Four Australian Universities have been placed in the top 100 of the 2014 Academic Ranking of World Universities (Shanghai Jiao Tong rankings).

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Jiao TongMelbourne University has cracked the top 50 coming in at 44, up 10 places from last year. ANU was placed at 74 (66 in 2013) , University of Queensland 85 (85), University of Western Australia 88 (91). Sydney, ranked 97 last year, dropped out of the top 100.

Nineteen Australian universities were placed in the top 500.

Melbourne vice-chancellor Glyn Davis says that for any Australian universities to be achieving top 100 status is a significant achievement and to have four in the top 100 “is a very important achievement and a testament to the overall quality of the Australian higher education system”.

Nevertheless, the overall rankings indicate that other nations, like China, are producing institutions that are moving ahead as Australia stands still.

Davis told ABC Radio that, over time, a deregulated system could see more Australian universities placed in the top 100 as in  deregulated systems is there tends to be greater variation in the system and  a lot more specialisation.

Specialised institutions often do very well in ranking systems so it may be that under a deregulated system, over time, because deregulation itself will take maybe a decade before its full effects would work through, it might see more institutions in the top 100 but they might tend to be smaller and more focussed than generally the comprehensive large scale universities that characterise the Australian system.

But he also observed that “it’s very hard at this point to know whether deregulation is going to happen and in what form”.

Harvard University was named the best university in the world, a ranking it has held since the first league table. It was followed by Stanford, MIT, and the University of California. Overall, there are 52 US universities in the top 100 with the universities of other countries represented as follows (this adds up to more than 100 as there were several joint placings):

• UK – 8

• Switzerland – 5

• Australia – 4

• Canada – 4

• France – 4

• Germany – 4

• Netherlands – 4

• Japan – 3

• Sweden – 3

• Belgium – 2

• Israel – 2

• Finland – 1.

The Jiao Tong rankings are compiled on the basis of six measures: the number of alumni and staff winning Nobel prizes and Fields Medals; the number of highly cited researchers; the number of articles published in Nature and Science; the number of articles indexed in the Thomson Reuters Science Citation Index – Expanded and Social Sciences Citation Index; and per capita performance.

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