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University rankings: 'New Zealand continues to outperform relative to its size'

Amy Wiggins, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 28 Jun 2023, 12:17PM
Photo / Getty Images
Photo / Getty Images

University rankings: 'New Zealand continues to outperform relative to its size'

Amy Wiggins, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 28 Jun 2023, 12:17PM

New Zealand’s eight Universities have all climbed higher in world rankings, data released today shows.

The 2024 Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings show Auckland University still holds the country’s top ranking at 68th in the world - up from 87th last year.

Waikato University climbed 81 places from 331 to 250 - the largest improvement in the country.

The rankings compare 1499 institutions across 104 locations and this year added sustainability, employment outcomes and international research networks to the ranking metrics.

The results draw on the analysis of over 17 million academic papers and the expert opinions of over 240,000 academic faculty and employers.

“The New Zealand higher education system continues to outperform relative to its size,” study authors wrote.

‘The standout performance lies in the newly introduced sustainability indicator. Impressively, the University of Auckland is listed as one of the world’s top 10 institutions in this dimension, ranking ninth. The University of Otago and the University of Canterbury also perform strongly in this metric, securing the 22nd and 36th spots respectively.

“This high performance in sustainability showcases the commitment of New Zealand’s universities to responsible practices.”

Auckland University vice-chancellor Professor Dawn Freshwater said the new ranking was a testament to the high quality of teaching, learning and research across the university and a reminder that New Zealand universities were among the best in the world.

“We are pleased with the result for the University of Auckland. It reflects the efforts of our staff after the pandemic years. It is also rewarding to see that all eight universities in Aotearoa New Zealand have improved their global ranking.

“This is important not only for the quality of the education and research provided here but for the country’s international reputation. It reflects on the quality and capability of our workforce, the global standing of our research and ultimately our organisations and companies.”

Auckland University’s ranking was its highest since 2010.

University of Waikato vice-chancellor Professor Neil Quigley said the significant increase of 81 places and the number one place for research impact in New Zealand, reflected the intensity, impact, and influence of the university’s academic staff.

“These are impressive results for one of New Zealand’s youngest and smallest universities. Our research is making a difference globally, and to have this recognised on the world’s stage is a significant achievement.”

Otago University director of strategy, analytics and reporting David Thomson told the Otago Daily Times the university was pleased with the new results.

The climb was “a modest but welcome improvement”.

It showed the institution was continuing to perform adequately in the rankings despite ongoing underfunding, he said.

MIT was the top-ranked institution globally for the 12th year running, followed by Cambridge, Oxford and then Harvard.

The latest rankings come in the same week as the Government announced an extra $128 million funding would be poured into tertiary education providers for courses at degree level and above, over two years. The Government also promised to review the higher education funding system, including the Performance-Based Research Fund.

“The Government has heard the concerns of the sector. When we began our Budget process Universities and other degree providers were forecasting enrolment increases. The opposite has occurred, and it is clear that there is a need for additional support,” Education Minister Jan Tinetti said.

“This funding will help maintain the quality and breadth of higher education offerings and research capability in our tertiary institutions. This is vital for our students, our tertiary workforce, our broader research system, and for economic and social well-being in New Zealand. It will not resolve all the issues that universities are facing, but it should make a positive difference.

“Presently, our tertiary institutions are experiencing an unexpectedly large decline in domestic enrolments and increased cost pressures. In addition, although international enrolments are increasing, they remain well below pre-COVID levels. Similar issues are being faced by tertiary providers worldwide.”

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the extra funding was coming from underspends in Vote Tertiary Education, including from the fees-free scheme caused by lower than expected enrolments.

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