QS World University rankings - who's hot?

The latest rankings by the London-based agency Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) have rated NZ universities in the world’s top 50 in 20 different subjects, and they place our university system as the 18th best in the world.

The latest QS rankings which compare over 1200 universities from 78 locations also confirmed the University of Auckland as our highest ranking tertiary institution.

These rankings are based on academic reputation, research citations and impact, and put a significant weight on employer reputation based on their survey of over 40,000 employers around the world. For this last reason alone, rankings should not be relied on as gospel but as subjective judgements, and may also explain why we went from number 14 globally last year to number 18 this one.

Auckland has most Top-50 subjects

The University of Auckland has the country's largest number of departments rated in the world's top 50, with 13 top-50 subjects. Howevert only Otago manages to have a subject area in the top 20, this for their sports-related subjects which came in 20th spot.

Universities NZ spokesman Chris Whelan blamed the sliding NZ results on inadequate funding of the local universities. He quoted students across the Tasman being funded almost 30% more than in NZ, while the UK funds students 73% more and the USA a massive 97% more than here.

QS Rankings based on groupings of subjects

The QS World University Rankings look as groupings of subjects as well as looking at 48 individual subjects.

 Arts and Humanities

            Global                                              New Zealand    

1. University of Oxford    University of Auckland (global rank 48)
2. Harvard University   Victoria University of Wellington (73)
3. University of Cambridge  University of Otago (163)
4. University of California (Berkley)  University of Canterbury (256)
5. Stanford University    University of Waikato (314)

Engineering and Technology

             Global                                              New Zealand    

1.Massachusetts Institute of Technology    University of Auckland (116)
2.Stanford University      University of Canterbury (240)
3.Swiss Federal Institute of Tech  Victoria University (384)
4.University of Cambridge   University of Otago (392)
5.University of California(Berkley)    Massey University (401-450)

Life Science and Medicine

 Global                                              New Zealand    

1.Harvard University   University of Otago (94)
2.Oxford University      University of Auckland (101) 
3.University of Cambridge Massey University (344)
4.Stanford University  University of Canterbury (451 – 500)
5.John Hopkins University

Natural Science

Global                                              New Zealand    

1.Massachusetts Institute of Technology    University of Auckland (123)
2.Stanford University      University of Canterbury (227)
3.Harvard University   University of Otago (279)
4.University of Cambridge    Victoria University (336)
5.University of Oxford Massey University (401-450)

Social Science and Management

  Global                                              New Zealand    

1.Harvard University University of Auckland (53)
2.London School of Economics  University of Otago (174) 
3.Stanford University    University of Canterbury (222)
4. University of Oxford   Massey University (245)
5.Massachusetts Institute of Technology   AUT (283)

Some final thoughts on the latest QS University Rankings

  • Harvard University remains the world’s outstanding university, ranking number one in 12 subjects, closely followed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ranking first in 11 subjects.
  • QS rankings show Switzerland has become the world’s third-best higher education system in terms of top-10 ranks, overtaking Australia. Only the United States and United Kingdom occupy more top-10 places.
  • In Asia, Singapore remains the outstanding system, with more top-10 university departments than the rest of the continent’s universities combined.

Consumer warning needed 

Rankings should however come with a consumer warning. Rankings are very much an indicator of how hard the institutions market their products and target their various audiences and each ranking uses different methodology and wants to highlight different things. Take from them what you want.