UniMelbourne stays on top and Curtin U does well in ARWU rankings

It’s six of the Go8 in the top 100: Australia has 23 universities in the world top 500 in this year’s Academic Ranking of World Universities, announced this morning

The University of Melbourne holds its top ANZ premier place again, up one place on 2017, to 38th in the world. The University of Queensland is second, in an unchanged 55th spot. The University of Sydney improves from 83 last year to 68th this and ANU returns to form, at 69th, after an unlikely 20 place fall to 97 between 2016 and ’17.  However Monash U is down from 78 last year and 79 in 2016  to 92 this. UWA is stable at 93.

The other members of the Group of Eight, the University of Adelaide and UNSW both stay in the 101-150 group.

Last year CMM’s commissioned analysis of the 2017 ARWU ranking’s revealed the specific ranking of universities in the 100-500 bands (August 16 2017). Comparing this data to the ranking released overnight reveals Curtin U stays strong. It rated 302 in 2014 and rose to 181 last year. This year it stays in  the 151-200 group, making it ninth in Australia. QUT also does well, staying in the 201-300 group. James Cook U, does well, lifting a band, from 332, to the 201-300 group and RMIT improves from 422 to the 300-400 group, which Western Sydney U falls out of.

Four New Zealand institutions make the first-500, University of Auckland (201-300), the University of Otago (301-400) ,Victoria University of Wellington (301-400) and the University of Canterbury at (401-500).

The second 500ARWU has also released a second five hundred institutions, which it describes as “candidates” for the first list. ANZ universities on it are: ACU (501-600), Massey U (501-600), Murdoch U (601-700), UniSA (601-700), Lincoln U (701-800) University of Waikato (701-800),UNE (701-800), University of the Sunshine Coast (701-800), Edith Cowan U (801-900), Auckland University of Technology (901-1000), Charles Sturt U (901-1000).

As good as it gets:  Rankings bounce around, using highly-cited researchers for 20 per cent of scores, for one thing, can ensures big swings. But gains based on long-term strategy and losses moved from staff movements and one-offs aside, this year’s results are not much different from last.  As a learned reader wise in ranking analysis puts it, this is probably as good as it is going to get for Australian universities.

“The 2018 ARWU results confirm what we already know – that Australian university research is in healthy shape but in something of a holding pattern. The overall ARWU results for Australia reveal little improvement and are virtually a carbon copy of the 2017 outcomes.

“In the absence of additional funding the research policy levers available to the government have been exhausted. Excellence for Research in Australia has achieved its goal of focussing more attention on research excellence and citation rates, while at an all-time high, are levelling out. Other initiative such as the engagement and impact exercise are unlikely to have any impact on rankings. Universities are also running out of policy options and therefore we can observe the adoption of strategies that produce quick outcomes such as publication incentive schemes and hiring of highly cited researchers.  The takeaway message is that we have reached a zenith on the ARWU rankings and are potentially poised for a slide in future rounds, judging by the latest ABS R&D statistics which reveal a sharp decline in Gross Expenditure on R&D as a proportion of GDP.”


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