The top four Australian universities have risen in recent years QS World University Rankings which has placed five institutions in the top 50 universities in the world.
The Australian National University (ANU) was named the best in the country at rank 27, followed by the University of Melbourne (37), University of Sydney (38), University of New South Wales (43) and the University of Queensland (47).
While the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was named the best university in the world for the 10th consecutive year and the University of Oxford second.
Andrew Norton, an expert on higher education at ANU, told The Epoch Times that universities do not like rankings much, as the value of each university cannot simply be summed up by a few criteria.
“However, rankings are a fact of university life and are known for influencing international students and the choice of academic staff,” Norton said. “Therefore, universities should play the game and use ranking results to their advantage where they can.”
Based on a variety of aspects, the QS ranking takes university reputation into account, with academic reputation surveys contributing 40 percent to the performance rankings and employer reputation contributing 10 percent.
These reputational surveys measure sentiments over several years, meaning they do not reflect the latest changes in universities. Furthermore, reputable surveys often do not reflect current performance by universities, and Norton notes that this is influenced by the limited knowledge and prejudice of people who conduct the surveys.
“Old and famous universities inevitably perform better in reputation surveys, whether their recent achievements justify it or not,” he said.
In addition, the proportion of international students who attend it is also taken into account, which contributes 5 percent to the ranking of the university. However, due to COVID-19, QS universities allowed this year to submit 2019 data for international student figures.
Norton said the decision to allow universities to submit 2019 figures had ‘only a small impact’, as it was only worth 5 per cent, and enrollments in the country fell by only 5 per cent from 2019 to 2020 has.
Norton has pointed to the academic rankings of world universities as the list that is usually considered the most sought after because it does not consider reputation rankings and is based solely on research data.
Despite efforts by the QS rankings to include student and teaching-related measurements, Norton said the rankings are not reliable assessments for the undergraduate experience. On the contrary, it mainly measures achievements in research and academic achievements, something that is not relevant to the student’s experience.
“Talking to current students in the courses will be a more reliable way to make a choice,” he said.