University rankings fall

Otago defends that other universities making higher investments

The University of Otago has slipped down four places, now ranked 158th in this year’s QS World University rankings. However, the University is defending the decline, blaming it purely on higher investments made from other universities.

The QS World University Rankings are an annual league table of the top universities in the world. It is arguably the best-known and respected ranking of its kind and is based on four key pillars: research, teaching, employability and internationalisation.

“While Otago’s latest ranking of 159 has dipped slightly on last year’s (155), the University actually increased its overall score and remains firmly placed as one of New Zealand’s top two universities,” said Professor Richard Blaikie, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise). “Our small dip in ranking is due primarily to increased investment in tertiary education by countries other than New Zealand.”

QS Head of Research, Ben Sowter revealed that the results show more investment should be injected into New Zealand institutions.

“The University of Otago is the best performing national university for research citations per faculty, ranking 158th in the world in this key criterion. The University of Auckland is next in 232nd position,” Sowter said in a recent press release. “While these are positive results, there is certainly room for more ambitions and sustained investment in this crucially important area.”

The University of Otago has continued to move down the rankings from its previous placing at 114 in 2007.

“The historical trends of the QS World University Rankings show that universities need to continually improve to maintain their own positions due to the increasing global competitiveness,” says Sowter.

”New Zealand’s overall performance in this year’s rankings shows stability but also indicates that continuous investment is needed to ensure that its higher education sector remains globally competitive. Initiatives such as the increased government funding announced last year to promote the country as a top study destination, are certainly positive signals.”

Auckland University of Technology, Massey University, the University of Auckland and University of Canterbury have all received multiple QS Stars, while Otago has none. The QS Stars have been awarded to 150 universities and are awarded in consideration of the institution's qualities.
This article first appeared in Issue 24, 2014.
Posted 3:00pm Sunday 21st September 2014 by Bella Macdonald.