New Zealand universities gain in 2018 QS world university rankings
The University of Waikato has emerged most improved amidst a strong performance by New Zealand universities in a new international ranking.
Five universities gained in the annual QS World University Rankings released on Thursday, with all but Auckland University of Technology (AUT) among the top 350.
Auckland University was New Zealand's top-placed provider at 82nd worldwide, sliding back one spot on last year's rankings.
The University of Waikato rose 32 places to 292nd, Massey and Lincoln universities climbed 24 spots to 316th and 319th respectively, University of Otago rose 18 places to 151st, and Victoria University of Wellington nine places to 219th.
The University of Canterbury maintained its 214th place ranking and AUT remained in the 441-450 place bracket.
Internationally, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) held its first place spot for the sixth year running, followed by Stanford and Harvard universities. English academic strongholds Cambridge and Oxford were fifth and sixth placed respectively after California Institute of Technology (4th).
New Zealand universities performed well in research outputs – Waikato ranked 133rd, Otago 174th and Canterbury 178th – but showed "uniformly deteriorating" faculty to student ratios. The exception was Lincoln University, which featured among the top 200 universities globally in that measure.
The fourteenth annual QS ranking considered institutions' reputations as employers, their academic reputation and international staff and student numbers.
Universities New Zealand executive director Chris Whelan said domestic institutions did well in research and international connections.
"Despite really tight funding conditions, New Zealand universities have done well because we know how to cater to the rankings and they play to our strengths.
"That all of our universities are in the top 450 is truly impressive; no other country in the world can boast that."
Whelan said good rankings helped attract international staff. While about 80 per cent of international students considered rankings when deciding to study here, they were not the main driver.
QS research director Ben Sowter applauded New Zealand's rankings "especially considering that it competes with far more populous and richer countries".
"However, it is essential to continually invest and improve as the sector is evolving rapidly, particularly so in Asia," he said.
China participated in the QS rankings for the st time this year. Six of its universities placed in the top 100.
A release from QS warned our universities could miss out if Asian immigration "becomes less acceptable in the western world".