By Duncan Murray in Sydney
AUSTRALIA’S top universities have taken a dive in global rankings as competition increases to attract the world’s best and brightest.
An inability to attract international talent during the pandemic and “under-investment” in research were both blamed for this year’s poor results.
The University of Melbourne remained Australia’s best, according to the Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings released on Thursday, which graded 1904 universities from 108 countries.
Losing three places to 37th globally, the University of Melbourne was Australia’s only school to appear in the top 50.
Another Melbourne institution, Monash University lost 10 places to come in 54th in the world.
The University of Sydney was Australia’s third highest, ranking 60th after falling six places from joint 54th last year.
Recording the biggest dip this year was the University of Adelaide, which fell 23 places to joint 111th.
The only other Australian universities to appear in the global top 100 were the Australian National University which fell five places to 67th, the University of Queensland which dropped to 70th from 53rd, and UNSW Sydney which eased from joint 71st to 84th.
Times chief global affairs officer Phil Baty said while Australia continues to boast many of the world’s best universities, the latest data held serious warning signs.
“First of all, while Australia is one of the world’s leading university sectors for attracting international talent and collaboration, the relative isolation of the country during the pandemic is showing up in the data, to detrimental effect on universities’ ranking positions,” Mr Baty said.
“Real attention is needed to ensure Australia continues to be open to international talent, which includes the right policy incentives as competition for international talent heats up with possible shifts in the market.”
Asia showed the biggest improvement with 33 of the region’s universities ranking in the top 200 for the first time, of which 13 were from China and five from Japan.
The highest ranked universities were the UK’s University of Oxford, followed by Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, both in the US.
One of the most globally-renowned sources for university rankings, the Times assesses schools according to five key pillars – teaching, research quality, research environment, international outlook and industry.
Australian universities ranked highly in research productivity and research excellence, however both metrics saw a slight drop compared to last year, with Mr Baty flagging “under-investment” in the field.
“What our biggest, most rigorous and authoritative rankings show is that you have to run very fast even just to stand still in an increasingly dynamic, competitive global higher education sector,” he said.
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