This year’s edition of the NTU Rankings has come out ahead of the Academic Ranking of World Universities (due on August 15 ).

National Taiwan University’s Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities, released on August 1, includes 1000 institutions compared to 800 last year – although no scores are published for institutions outside the top 500.

This ranking is designed to compare and evaluate research universities’ achievements in scientific research through objective indicators. It is not a ranking which assesses how universities perform in teaching, internationalisation, community engagement, and third mission endeavors.

This ranking was first published in 2007 by the Higher Education Evaluation and Accreditation Council of Taiwan (HEEACT) and is now published by the National University of Taiwan.

Methodological construct

The ranking comprises eight indicators using data drawn from Clarivate’s Essential Science Indicators (ESI). These indicators are split into three categories:

* research productivity with two measures (articles published in the last 11 years, ie 2011-2021 and articles published in the current year, ie, 2021) account for 25 per cent of the overall score.

* research impact with three measures (number of citations 2011-2021, number of citations in the last two years, 2020-2021) and average number of citations in the last 11 years. This category accounts for 35 per cent of the overall score.

* research excellence with three measures accounting for 40 per cent of the overall score: H-index of the last two years, 2020-2021, number of highly cited papers for the period 2011-2021, and number of articles in the 2020-2021 period.

Australian movers and shakers

Of the 24 universities ranked in the world’s top 500, 19 moved up in position and five moved down. Australia has five institutions included in the top 50, one more than last year, with the inclusion of UNSW which ranked 51st in the past two years. UNSW has moved up more than 65 places from outside the top 100 in 2013.

Uni Melbourne remains Australia’s highest ranked institution at 20th, up from 24th last year, followed by Sydney at 26th, up from 32nd. Queensland ranks 33rd and then Monash U ranks 35th. Over the past five years Monash has progressively climbed up on this ranking, after being outside the top 100 in 2012.

The upward movement of Australian universities mainly occurred in those ranked in the 201-500 range.

Australia’s top year-on-year performers are:

* Western Sydney U, up 62 positions from 442nd in 2021 to 380th

* Flinders, up 52 positions from 484th in 2021 to 432nd

* La Trobe U, up 39 positions from 445th in 2021 to 406th

* QUT, up 35 positions from 293rd in 2021 to =248th

* Deakin U, up 31 positions from 309th in 2021 to =248th.

For these universities, improvement was mainly driven by articles published in the last 11 years, citations in the last 11 years, and average citations. This is not surprising given that Australian universities have emphasised over the past ten years that increased research production of articles is the way to climb up in the global rankings.

However, the performance of Australian universities in the indicators which assess current research productivity and recent research impact is weakening.

This suggests that the annual rate of growth for publication of articles and citations in the past two years is weakening. It will be interesting to see how next year’s results reflect research activity in 2021-2022.

Of the Australian universities which experienced a decline in standing, Griffith U moved down 42 positions from 290th in 2021 to 332nd, Uni Wollongong moved down 30 positions from 296th in 2021 to 326th and Uni Newcastle moved down 25 positions from 315th to 340th.

Weakening performance is, in part, explained by lower scores in the number of articles published in the last 11 years, H-index, and number of articles in high impact journals.

Go8 universities rank first to eight among Australian universities, of which five rank in the top 50 and the remaining three rank in the 101-150 range.

Four universities are ranked in the 201-300 range: UTS at 241, Curtin U and QUT both at 248 and Deakin U 278.

Eight more universities are ranked in the 301-400 range: Uni Wollongong, Griffith U, Macquarie U, Uni Newcastle, Uni Tasmania, Western Sydney U, Swinburne U and RMIT.

Another four universities are ranked in the 401-500 range: James Cook U, La Trobe U, Flinders U, and Uni SA.

Subject rankings

In addition to the world university rankings (WUR), the NTU Ranking also contain rankings for six fields and 27 subject areas. The methodology which applies to the WUR also applies to the field and subject rankings (including weightings). Because of its methodological construct, this is a ranking which shows a degree of stability year after year.

This is a ranking which can be suitable in assessing an institution’s relative progress of research endeavors at subject level and provide an invaluable additional lens to the insights we can derive from other subject rankings – such as Shanghai Rankings’ Global Rankings of Academic Subject Rankings and QS World University Rankings by Subject.

Australian university leaders are likely to be pleasantly surprised by the results from these subject rankings. Despite the criticisms that global rankings are irrelevant, pointless, and out of depth, these results reinforce subject areas of strength (and areas of relative weakness) across institutions. The various subject ranking schemas measure different things and offer invaluable insights which can assist university leaders to make informed decisions on where to focus.

Those keen to digest these subject rankings in detail would be delighted to know it is a lot easier to extract the information from the NTU Ranking compared to ShanghaiRanking’s Global Ranking of Academic Subjects.

Angel Calderon is principal advisor, planning and research at RMIT


to get daily updates on what's happening in the world of Australian Higher Education