New Zealand universities have work to do

Aussies and asians show marked improvement

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings have ranked the University of Otago in the 251–275 bracket. The score continues Otago’s steady decline in the rankings over the last few years. Last year, the university was placed in the 226–250 position. In 2011, it was in the 201–225 lot.

The results were also bad news for other New Zealand universities, with all institutions either slipping or stagnating in the rankings from last year. The University of Auckland fell to 175th place, a marked shift from its place at 164th in 2013. Both the University of Victoria and the University of Canterbury remained the same, ranking 276–300 and 301–350 respectively.

The Times rankings use 13 separate performance indicators to examine the universities’ strengths. “Research, knowledge transfer, international outlook and, uniquely among global rankings, the teaching environment,” says Times Higher Education Editor, Phil Baty.

Baty believes New Zealand will have to “invest and work strategically to stay competitive,” in order to improve their university ranking on the world stage. While New Zealand enjoys the “geographical advantages in the thriving Asia-Pacific region,” Baty argues it is failing to hold its own with “intensifying” competition in the “global knowledge economy.”

This growing competition largely hails from Eastern universities, says Baty, as the rankings provide hard evidence of a “power shift from West to East,” with two Asian universities in the world top 25 for the first time, and 24 Asian institutions in the top 200 – four more than last year. “There is little doubt that key East Asian nations have emerged as powerhouses in global higher education and research, while traditional leaders including the UK, Canada and the US, risk losing significant ground in the global knowledge economy.”

Baty attributes the success of the higher-ranking universities to “strong government financial support, strong leadership and a strong commitment to excellence in higher education and research.”

The top five universities in order of rank were: The California Institute of Technology; Harvard University; University of Oxford; Stanford University; and University of Cambridge.

Across the Tasman, the universities enjoyed better results, gaining a new top 200 entrant. The University of Adelaide placed 164th and the University of Melbourne moved up to 33rd position.
This article first appeared in Issue 26, 2014.
Posted 1:49pm Sunday 5th October 2014 by Emily Draper.