Sydney’s best universities slide in 2023 QS World Rankings

The Australian National University, in the ACT, remained the highest ranked in the country, but fell from 27 to 30.

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The report says La Trobe University in Victoria experienced a “meteoric rise” in the rankings, rising 46 places to 316, attributing the improvement to a significant increase in research citations. It was also the only Australian university not to suffer a decline in reputation, based on the opinions of 151,000 academics.

The country’s universities have fallen in QS indicators measuring the proportion of international students and faculty, which has been attributed to Australia’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and border closures.

Australia also fared poorly in terms of teaching resources and student-to-staff ratios, with 84% of universities falling by this measure. Only three local universities have made the top 500 in the world.

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But ANU higher education expert professor Andrew Norton said the QS rankings were not accurate representations of university performance.

“There are a lot of opinions in them rather than hard facts about what happened,” he said. “Perhaps it is at this point that perceptions around Australia have turned negative due to a known reliance on international income.”

For the 11th consecutive year, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology topped the QS rankings, which includes 1,418 institutions worldwide. Cambridge University moved up to second place while Stanford University remained in third place. Oxford University fell two places to fourth globally, while Harvard University again finished fifth.

University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor Professor Mark Scott said the institution had performed well to retain its third place in Australia.

“I commend the university’s academic and professional staff for this strong result and the fact that it was achieved during the major disruption of the pandemic,” he said. “It is a testament to their dedication and hard work and the direct beneficiaries are our students and the wider community.”

Professor Attila Brungs, Vice-Chancellor of UNSW, who was ranked fourth in the country, said: “This achievement is recognition by our academic peers and the wider community of the caliber of our work, and the efforts of our staff to improve the quality of lives through innovative and pioneering research with global impact,” he said.

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