The 2018 Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings list the best universities in the world to study by subject, and they were released today.

All of New Zealand’s universities currently rank in the top three per cent in the world. Of those, the most ranked universities were the University of Auckland and the University of Otago which ranked in 40 disciplines and 33 disciplines respectively.

Rankings of special mention include Otago for its physical education faculty coming in at number 12, and dentistry at 27, Auckland’s education department at 17 and Victoria University’s highest ranking at 38 in the world for Law, was up from 46 in 2017.

Universities New Zealand Executive Director, Chris Whelan described the results for New Zealand Universities as “pleasing”.

“The overall upwards trend is positive and our universities are all still ranked within the world’s top 500.”

The University of Auckland ranked in the top 10 for archaeology and in the top 20 for education; anatomy and physiology. Altogether the university secured 18 spots in the top 50.

Auckland’s Vice Chancellor Professor Stuart McCutcheon said the rankings cemented the university’s status as the country’s leading university.

“To have achieved this given the low levels of funding New Zealand universities receive is testimony to the hard work of our excellent staff.”

Also celebrating was Otago University whose overall result was up on that of last year. As well as maintaining five subjects in the top 50 worldwide (with three of those five improving their position within the top 50), the numbers of the University of Otago’s subjects ranked between 51st and 100th increased from eight to 10.

Victoria University increased its number of internationally ranked subjects to 31, just behind the University of Otago on 33 and the University of Auckland on 40. The other New Zealand universities have from between two to 22 internationally ranked subjects.

While pleasing, Chris Whelan did warn against complacency.

“If we are to improve or even maintain our rankings, we must increase investment in educational quality,” he said.

Since 2011, QS has extended the scope of the world rankings to include the evaluation of individual disciplines. These subject rankings are decided by a number of factors. These include academic reputation (how academics from other universities rate a university in a particular subject area), employer reputation (how employers rate a university in a particular subject area), and citations (the extent to which the work of an academic in a subject area is quoted or referenced in the work of others). The assessment involves specific consideration of over 4,400 of the more than 10,000 universities worldwide.

Overall, Harvard University came in at number one top in 14 subjects and Massachusetts Institute of Technology ranked second top in 12 subjects.


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