Five Australian unis find place among top 100 in the world

by Ramya Manoharan | May 23, 2017

University ranking

May is graduation time for many students in Australian universities. And, this year graduands of five universities in the country have reason to cheer louder. Their alma maters feature among the world’s top 100 higher education institutions whose research has had the most impact.

The CWTS Leiden Ranking, released last week, has listed the University of Sydney, University of Melbourne, University of Queensland, Monash University and the University of New South Wales among the top 100 in research impact. The ranking system offers key insights into the scientific performance and impact of more than 900 major universities worldwide.

Why are university rankings so important to so many?

The release of university rankings always creates a buzz, and is one of the most googled items when it comes to tertiary education. Why is it so important to so many?     

For parents like Sherly Bajaj it serves as an introduction to the top universities in the country. Sherly says that she is aware that global rankings are not perfect and that they could sometimes compare apples with oranges, but that has not stopped her from making a note of the list of top higher education institutions each time a global ranking is released. “Despite the shortcomings of the rankings, I think of them as a list of institutions that are credible. These institutions cannot be fly-by-night operators or make false claims about their achievements,” Sherly says.

In the current economical climate, university rankings may also have a place in whether students go on to get a university education or not. Our analysis of the 2017 federal budget shows that the increasing cost burden on students and parents in the tertiary education sector could serve as a potential disincentive to students accessing further learning.Leiden university rankings

Beatrica Anand, a second year science student at Monash University, says that when she found her university in the top order of higher education institutions she knew she made the right choice. “A uni education doesn’t come cheap. Doing it in a good ranking university makes me feel like it’s worth it. It encourages me to continue to pursue higher education even when I find myself out of pocket,” she says.

Another reason that university rankings are considered important is because, according to the 2016 ASG white paper Repositioning education as a major life event, “along with saving for retirement and buying a house, education is one of life’s major events and a critical investment parents, families and communities make.” 

Rankings come with caveats

But, before we become preoccupied with the respective ranks of the institutions, it is important to read the caveats that accompany rankings. To help parents and students avoid misrepresentation of the ranking tables, researchers involved in the Leiden ranking say that comparisons between universities should be made keeping in mind the differences between universities as each university has a different mission and objectives. A blog post on the topic by the researchers says that university rankings should be handled cautiously, but they should not be deemed as being unimportant.

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