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Melbourne tops Australian tree

Cate Swannell
Med J Aust || doi: 10.5694/mja17.0210C1
Published online: 2 October 2017

Times Higher Education has released its annual ranking of the world’s universities and the University of Melbourne is the best of the Aussies

THE University of Melbourne has again finished as the highest ranked Australian university on the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2018 list.

Ranked 32nd overall on a list topped by the University of Oxford for the second year in a row, Melbourne improved from equal 33rd last year. The Melbourne Medical School was ranked 13th in the world rankings of clinical, pre-clinical and health schools, again, the highest of the Australians.

Notwithstanding the University of Melbourne’s strong showing among Australian universities, it dropped from 3rd to 4th in the Asia Pacific region behind the National University of Singapore, Peking University and Tsinghua University.

Australian National University in Canberra dropped a spot to 48th in the world overall, but it was still enough to finish second on the Australian rankings, ahead of the University of Sydney (61st), University of Queensland (65th), Monash University (equal 80th), University of NSW (85th), University of WA (equal 111th), and the University of Adelaide (equal 134th).

James Cook University, Queensland University of Technology, University of South Australia and the University of Technology Sydney, were in the 201-250 range. Griffith University, Macquarie University, University of Newcastle, and the University of Wollongong finished in the 251-300 range. Charles Darwin University, Deakin University, Flinders University, University of Tasmania and Victoria University were in the 301-350 bracket. Curtin University and La Trobe University were in the 351-400 range. Murdoch University, RMIT University, Southern Cross University, Swinburne University of Technology, and Western Sydney University were ranked 401-500. Australian Catholic University, Bond University, Central Queensland University, Edith Cowan University, and the University of the Sunshine Coast finished 501-600, and the University of Southern Queensland finished in the 601-800 bracket.

Of the seven Australian medical schools which were ranked by Times Higher Education, Melbourne was the top-ranked at 13th in the world, with Sydney (35th), Monash (41st), University of Queensland (43rd), University of NSW (81st), ANU (equal 86th) and UWA (equal 86th) filling out the field.

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, Professor Glyn Davis, said that the improved ranking was “a testament to our staff and students, who do so much to make it a vibrant and stimulating place to work and study”.

“The University of Melbourne has climbed up the THE and other rankings in recent years in part due to the move to the Melbourne Model, a globally competitive curriculum that couples broad undergraduate studies with postgraduate specialisation. This world-class model is being jeopardised by the [federal government’s] reform plans.

“[The] rankings also show the fast growth of our regional neighbours, whose heavy investment in their higher education systems is translating into higher rankings,” he said.

“Australia needs to understand that our competitors for top international students aren’t just the UK and the United States, but also countries such as Singapore and China. Even our current higher education funding is likely to see us falling behind our regional neighbours,” Professor Davis said.

Despite finishing outside the top 100 overall, the University of Western Australia was the Australian university with the highest citations score (90.6), ahead of Melbourne (90.3), JCU (89.1), Charles Darwin (88.0), and the University of Queensland (87.8).

The University of South Australia was the leader in industry income scores (81.6), followed by UQ (76.2), Monash (71.5), Melbourne (70.1), and Sydney (67.9).

The Times Higher Education website said that the supplement used “13 carefully calibrated performance indicators to provide the most comprehensive and balanced comparisons, trusted by students, academics, university leaders, industry and governments”.

“The calculation of the rankings for 2018 has been subject to independent audit by professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, making these the only global university rankings to be subjected to full, independent scrutiny of this nature.”

European universities filled half of the top 200 places, with the Netherlands and Germany joining the UK as the most-represented countries. Italy, Spain and the Netherlands each have new number ones.

Another notable trend is the continued rise of China, which is now home to two universities in the top 30: Peking and Tsinghua. Almost all Chinese universities have improved their rankings, signalling that the country’s commitments to investment has bolstered results year-on-year.

Two-fifths of the US institutions in the top 200 (29 out of 62) have dropped places in this year’s ranking list.

The top 10:

1. University of Oxford

2. University of Cambridge

3. California Institute of Technology

4. Stanford University

5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

6. Harvard University

7. Princeton University

8. Imperial College London

9. University of Chicago

Equal 10. ETH Zurich

Equal 10. University of Pennsylvania

  • Cate Swannell


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