14 June 2022

ANU ranked best university in Australia despite losing ground internationally

| James Coleman
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Australian National University.

The ANU was placed 30th in the QS World University Rankings 2023. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The Australian National University (ANU) has clung to its title as the country’s best university.

The QS World University Rankings 2023 compared over 1400 universities around the world on nine criteria.

The ANU was 30th, three down on last year’s rankings but still leading Australia’s other universities. The University of Canberra slipped from 436th place to the 511-520 bracket.

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A breakdown of the criteria reveals ANU lost the most points for its faculty-to-student ratio but scored 100 per cent for its proportion of international faculty. It also has more Nobel laureates among its staff and alumni than any other university in the country.

The ANU also performed well for its international student ratio, despite COVID-19-induced border closures.

Prior to the pandemic, international students created the ACT’s first billion-dollar export industry, with more than 18,000 international students choosing to call Canberra home.

Recovering the sector has become a key economic priority for the ACT Government, even bringing about the creation of a digital ‘toolkit‘ showcasing the lifestyle and opportunities Canberra offers.

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Ben Sowter, senior vice-president at QS (Quacquarelli Symonds), the company behind the ranking, said they tell a story of stagnation more than a decline.

“Australia continues to shine for research excellence,” Mr Sowter said, “but its recognition among the global academic community and employers has taken a hit, connected with the reduced international engagement during the pandemic.”

The ANU was one of three Australian universities to drop in the international rankings, but five of our institutions remain in the world’s top 50 – the University of Melbourne (33), the University of Sydney (41), the University of New South Wales (45) and the University of Queensland (50).

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Australian universities are also among the best in the world for research prowess, especially considering the population. Australia ranks fifth for the number of citations and 10th for research output.

The ANU produced almost 40,000 papers over five years, generating over 725,000 citations, with key strengths in physics and astronomy, particularly gravitational waves and black holes.

According to QS, the top three universities in the world are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US, the University of Cambridge in the UK, and Stanford University, also in the US.

The ANU declined to comment.

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