How Australia Emerged as a Growing Force in the 2020 QS World University Rankings

More than two thirds of Australian universities have risen in the QS World University Rankings this year, positioning Australia as a nation to watch in the higher education sector.

It was an impressive performance from universities across the nation with 24 of Australia’s 35 ranked universities improving their position.

This comes in stark contrast to the poor performances seen by the US and UK, which saw 53.5% of ranked US universities and 59.5% of ranked UK universities decline in the rankings.

The recently released 2020 QS World University Rankings ranks the world’s top 1,000 universities based on academic reputation, graduate employability, student/staff ratio, research performance, and internationalization.

Australian universities saw wide-sweeping improvements across these range of indicators, including academic reputation (25 of 35 universities improved); citations per faculty, which measures research impact adjusted for institution size (28 of 35 universities improved); and the international student ratio metric which measures an institution’s internationalization efforts (26 of 35 universities improved).

Conversely, the US and UK both saw declining ranks when it comes to the international student ratio metric, with 126 of 157 US ranked universities and 51 of 84 UK ranked universities taking a hit.

This suggests that Australian universities are proving the beneficiaries of the global international student community’s uncertainty about the higher education systems in the US and UK, thanks to political tensions and shifting visa regulations.

Despite this rise, the US and UK still dominate the top ten universities in the rankings, with nine out of the ten spots and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ranked 1st for a record eighth consecutive year.

Australia’s top-ranked university, Australian National University, saw its rank drop from 24th to 29th in the rankings.

However, according to the global academic community, Australia’s most reputable university is the University of Melbourne, which ranks 15th for academic reputation and 38th overall.

Ben Sowter, Director of Research at QS, says that it’s vital that Australian universities keep up with this growth by investing in teaching capacity and faculty.

“With two of the world’s ten best student cities, a quality of life ranked as the second-best in the world in 2015 by the UN, and highly-reputable institutions, it is unsurprising that students wishing to study in an Anglophone nation have turned towards Australia. The rate at which international student recruitment has occurred has been striking even in the context of the current global political climate, with recent Department of Home Affairs’ data indicating that well over 600,000 foreign students chose to forge their futures in Australia last year.”

“The influx of international students has coincided with significant and near-uniform drops in our faculty/student ratio indicator. It is imperative that Australia endeavors to continue expanding its teaching capacity to meet demand that is likely to continue increasing.”

It’s clear that Australia is emerging as a force within the global higher education community with continuous improvements in the rankings and swiftly rising international student numbers.

To continue this upward trajectory and make the most of the insights revealed by the rankings, we developed the QS Rankings Tracker, which helps universities identify an actionable framework for progress.

If you’d like to learn more about rankings analysis and how your university could improve its performance, please contact us about our QS Rankings Tracker now.


About the Author:

As the B2B Content Marketing Manager, Sarah Linney is responsible for communicating the insights, research, and market analysis that have positioned QS as a thought leader in the higher education sector. After completing a Communications-Journalism degree at Charles Sturt University in Australia, Sarah worked in radio news and B2B print publishing before joining the content marketing sector. While working at a content marketing agency, Sarah was transferred to their New York office. She then led content marketing efforts at two tech startups in New York as a Content Manager before deciding to make the move to the UK and QS. 

Leave A Comment