August 17, 2020

Seven Australian universities in the world’s top 100

Australia’s seven highest ranking universities have held onto their prized positions in the world’s top 100 in the latest annual list from the Academic Ranking of World Universities.

And Australia’s leading institution, the University of Melbourne. rose to its highest ever position of 35th in the world in the 2020 rankings, released by the China-based ShanghaiRanking Consultancy on Saturday.

Other universities named in the world’s top 100 are the University of Queensland (54th), the Australian National University (67th), UNSW and the University of Sydney (equal 74th), and Monash University and the University of Western Australia (equal 85th).

The University of Queensland

All Australian universities in the top seven, except Monash, managed to maintain or improve on their 2019 ranking in the ARWU, which is mainly based on a university’s high level research performance in science, technology and medicine.

With seven universities in the top 100, Australia stands third in the world behind the US, with 41, and the UK, with eight.

China has six universities in the top 100, but its numbers are rising fast. In 2017 it has only two.

In the next few years it will be much harder for Australian universities to maintain their global ranking position because they stand to lose billions of dollars in research funding which they have drawn from international student fees. International student numbers are in sharp decline because of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

A good performance in the ARWU is highly valued by Australian universities. It is the only one of the three major university rankings which is based solely on high level research and, because it is from China, the ARWU is closely watched by Chinese families selecting an overseas university for their children.

The ARWU focuses on the numbers of papers universities publish in top research journals and the number of highly cited researchers they employ, and also gives substantial weight to Nobel prizes won by current academics and alumni.

In contrast, rival university rankings from Times Higher Education and QS also include criteria which measure teaching quality.

Outside of the top seven, Australia’s next highest performing university is the University of Adelaide which slipped down to the 151-200 performance band in 2020 from its previous position in the 101-150 band.

Other universities made major strides including Swinburne, which gained about 100 places in the past year to be now firmly in the 201-300 band, and UTS, which has risen well over 100 places in the last two years and is now also placed in the 201-300 band.

The world’s top five universities in 2020 according to the ARWU are, in order, Harvard, Stanford, Cambridge, MIT and Berkeley. The top five list is unchanged since last year.

Academic Ranking of World Universities 2020

1. University of Melbourne, 2020 rank: 35 (2019 rank: 41)

2. University of Queensland, 2020 rank: 54 (2019 rank: 54)

3. Australian National University, 2020 rank: 67 (2019 rank: 76)

4. UNSW, 2020 rank: 74 (2019 rank: 94)

4. University of Sydney, 2020 rank: 74 (2019 rank: 80)

6. Monash University, 2020 rank: 85 (2019 rank: 73)

6. University of Western Australia, 2020 rank: 85 (2019 rank: 99)