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NZ universities slip in QS World University Subject rankings

27 February 2019 | media

New Zealand universities are placed among the world’s top 50 universities in 20 different subjects in the latest result from the annual QS World University Rankings by Subject.

These rankings compare over 1200 universities from 78 locations, considering academic reputation, employer reputation, research citations and impact.

While impressive, this result is lower than 2018, with New Zealand’s higher education system now ranked at 18th in the world, against 14th in 2018 (based on the number of top-50 ranked subjects).

“These results reflect the fact that, while New Zealand universities are maintaining or improving scores on the various criteria that make up rankings (academic reputation, citation rates, employer regard, etc), they are slipping overall against countries that spend more on their universities,” says Universities New Zealand Chief Executive Chris Whelan.

“Our funding system means we now sit well below countries we compare ourselves against. The Government needs to reverse the funding policies of the past twenty years that have seen funding per student decline in real terms.

Chris Whelan says rankings are influential tools. “International education is New Zealand’s fourth largest export earner, and rankings strongly influence decisions being made by students, as well as countries, top researchers and research institutes about who they will, or won’t, study or work with.

“If we want to maintain a first-world university system with the knowledge generated by research and the quality of teaching that means New Zealand students get a world-class university education in their own country, then the Government must make the appropriate investment decisions.

“This year’s ranking results are evidence of the real commitment of New Zealand universities to delivering teaching, learning and research of the highest international standards. But they do so under immense and growing pressure. Keeping pace with our peers gets harder each year.

“Students in Australia are funded at around 27% more per student than those in New Zealand; students in Canada 60% more; in the UK 73% more; and in the US around 97% more. This is why New Zealand is slipping behind other countries in the rankings and struggling to maintain quality overall.

“New Zealand can’t afford to have successive governments continue to let this slide.”

The rankings are available online.