Australia slips in global university rankings and there is 'cause for concern'

Tsinghua University/ FacebookTsinghua University

  • Australia has nine Australian universities ranked in this year’s top 200 list.
  • Although two-thirds of those have slid on previous rankings.
  • China is proving to be an education powerhouse, pushing up through the list and putting pressure on other institutions in the Asian region.

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2019 is out.

And leading the list is the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge for the second year in a row.

The global university rankings includes more than 1,250 institutions and looks at teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.

The calculation of the rankings has also been audited by professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Yale University is the only newcomer to the top 10, joining at eighth place, up from 12th.

Meanwhile, Switzerland’s ETH Zurich has fallen out of this elite group, dropping from joint 10th to 11th place.

Australian unis slipped in the ranking, under pressure from Chinese universities which have improved their standing due to “improvements in citation impact”.

Tsinghua University is now the top university in Asia, after rising eight places to 22nd.

The rise means that Tsinghua now also outranks its Beijing neighbour Peking University for the first time in the global table.

Simon Marginson, professor of higher education at the University of Oxford and director of the Centre for Global Higher Education, said that he was “not surprised” by Tsinghua’s advance.

“It’s easily the number one university in the world for high citation research in mathematics and computing – a combined field in which China has now moved well ahead of the US and, further back, Europe,” he said. “It is near the top of the world, and rising fast, in physical sciences and engineering.

“If Tsinghua is that strong now, imagine where it will be in five years with the continued increases in funding under the Double World-Class Project and more support from China’s enterprises for research.

“We are already at the stage where many of the world’s best physical sciences researchers want to work at Tsinghua, just as they see MIT, Berkeley or Cambridge as great places to be.”

Overall, 72 Chinese universities feature in the table, up from 63 last year, making it the fourth most represented nation globally.

Meanwhile nine Australian universities were listed among the top 200, but two-thirds of those have slid on previous rankings.

The University of Melbourne remains Australia’s highest-placed university at equal 32nd, followed by the Australian National University, which slipped one spot to 49th.

The list of Australian universities in the top 100 is rounded out by Sydney which came in 59th, Queensland at 69th, Monash at 84th and NSW 96th.

The report said there were signs of trouble in Australia, with many universities losing ground and reputation.

“While there are some examples of progress from Australia this year, the national picture is a cause for concern, with many universities declining or remaining stagnant,” said global rankings editor Ellie Bothwell.

“You can’t sustain world-class universities and research facilities with funding cuts.

“To excel, universities need strong investment and they need to be able to attract and retain the very best global talent and research collaborations.

“As funding cuts take hold, and pressure mounts to cap international student numbers – combined with intensifying competition from Asia – Australia’s universities could well face an uphill struggle in the coming years.”

Read the full list here >>

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.