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ANU still number 1?

By johnboy - 10 October 2008 27

The Canberra Times reports that ANU has rated 16th in the world and is, according to the Times Higher Education world rankings the finest university outside of the US and Britain.

So Rioters… Does this match with your own experiences of ANU and other seats of higher learning?

What’s Your opinion?

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27 Responses to
ANU still number 1?
lula 2:25 pm 10 Oct 08

I can only speak as a graduate of the ANU School of Art, but so far as that goes it is definitely among the world’s best.
Great facilities, great lecturers and mentors, an amazing course. Not too mention in that beautiful old building where you can feel like you really are part of some greater tradition.
Speaking of, next year Cambridge celebrates it’s 800th anniversary. Crazy! How do you compare yourself to that!?

GregW 2:19 pm 10 Oct 08

As others have mentioned, its varies, a lot. The universities high international rating is largely a result of postgraduate studies and a few specific undergraduate area’s. For the average undergraduate student, none of this is important, as they will not experience much outside of their faculty.

Science and economics are areas I believe ANU performs quite well in, contrasting this would be Engineering and Computer Science. ANU Engineering is currently rated 6th of the group of 8 universities, and personally I believe that they are more realistically equal last. Engineering students will find themselves with the lowest teaching space per student, lowest computing resources (1 computer per ~25 students), lowest department funding per student (70-75% of engineering student course fees are siphoned into other university areas), and generally incompetent lecturers with little oversight.

As I said it depends on what you are studying, and whether that is seen as important by the university.

I would be amazed if the claim that in general lecturers teach only one class / don’t also perform their own research is true anywhere within any university in Australia.

Overheard 2:08 pm 10 Oct 08

I-filed said :

CCAE is NOT a real university… it’s a vocational college.

Fair-ish sort of comment sort of kind of maybe not so. There’s relevance in what ‘CCAE’ stands for (which many here may not be aware of — Canberra College of Advanced Eduction, for the kiddies).

However, I don’t see the point of invoking a name from 20, 25 (more?) years ago without mentioning the fact that many educational institutions of many different hues were all knighted (bow down, Citizen CCAE, arise Dame UC) and became Unis.

I spent all of nine months at ANU and found it frustratingly academic (yeah, der, but I struggled for any practical application in what I was doing: Economics — involuntary shudder). Nine years later, I fronted up to Uni of Canberra and loved the vocational nature of a degree that took forever part-time, but I started using it from day one, even though over eight years after graduating, I haven’t actually stepped foot in a traditional job where one would say, ‘Aha, of course, he’s a Bachelor of Arts in Communication (spec. Organisational Communication)’. Business Analyst (on the business card, Payroll Systems consultant, team leader, manager, assistant director — forget what my title’s been for the last 10 days — I think getting a business card made up might be presumptuous and in some ways, defeatist.

It helps in all those roles and many more, but whether it’s worthy of seven and a half years on and off of part-time study, hmmmm.

I tell you, though, it even comes in handy working at can bars (cider on tap) at folk festivals even. True. (Eek (no pun intended) — reminds me of another post to come…)

astrojax 1:54 pm 10 Oct 08

well of course i knew the criteria – it was the “the number of prominent (e.g. nobel prize winning) staff” bit that i was critiquing – FRSs hardly grow on trees and are about the next tuier down from a nobel laureate. one of the FRSs to have been ‘persuaded’ to take his centre elsewhere was awarded the marconi prize, which is considered the equivalent of the nobel for telecommunications and associated science – which the founders of google won a couple years back, and which tim berners-lee also won – hardly low-rent!

and it isn’t like these FRSs were at the non-productive ends of their careers… seems the ranking system biases quantity over quality to some extent.

i don’t disregard ANU’s excellence, i wonder though that in context if it really should be ranked more highly than stanford, berkeley & carnegie mellon?? not to mention paris’ ecole…

still, i suppose that, as an alumni, i shouldn’t complain..!

I-filed 1:45 pm 10 Oct 08

CCAE is NOT a real university… it’s a vocational college.

SamTSeppo 12:40 pm 10 Oct 08

I have a bit of experience in a few areas at the ANU and in my experience, compared to other unis around the world, ANU is drastically overrated at least in regard to the student experience. Brilliant researchers doing good things, that’s for sure, but for at least a few departments I would recommend students go elsewhere. Anywhere elsewhere, but elsewhere.

I’ve heard in addition that the ouput from the John Curtin Medical School really pumps up the ANUs international ratings. Can’t speak to that, but it’s grist for the mill.

RuffnReady 12:24 pm 10 Oct 08

Pseudo beat me to it by 15 minutes… I find it ironic that people ask “what is it based on?” when we are talking about university ranking – didn’t they teach you how to research? I have a link here to the actual rankings, not a story about the rankings, so go there and click on “methodology”:

My experience of science at the ANU (chemistry, biology, ecology, human ecology) over a decade is that the lecturers are mostly excellent and often highly reputed globally in their field, the resources are abundant, and the class sizes are small. Really, you couldn’t ask for much more.

Pseudo Nym 11:59 am 10 Oct 08

astrojax said :

i just wonder what criteria is used to rank these unis.

Look it up. The Times HES, Jiao Tong & Melbourne uni rankings are all based on published criteria, which are all university wide and research-heavy. In varying proportions, they include the number and impact of publications from staff, the number of prominent (e.g. nobel prize winning) staff, value of competitive funding awarded, community views from prominent employers and academics, and, occasionally, undergraduate student views or results.

ANU consistently tops all three:

Pseudo Nym 11:49 am 10 Oct 08

You get the benefit of lecturers only teaching one course a semester, rather than two or three. At the later year undergraduate level, you get the benefit of lecturers who are actively involved in research in the areas they are teaching. This means you generally get teaching staff whose knowledge is current and are enthusiastic.

Compared with other top tier Australian unis, you don’t get particularly large faculties in some areas which limits the diversity of what can be taught, nor the large student cohorts which permit economies of scale in teaching.

It depends on what you are looking for, either as a student or an assessor. There is a fundamental dichotomy as to the purpose of universities; to teach or to produce knowledge? Bear in mind that all three major rankings focus on the latter and the former can be dependent on quite subjective views of what constitutes ‘good’ teaching.

Ralph 11:42 am 10 Oct 08

As former student and employee in economics I can say that the economics department is the best in the country, and on par with the better North American institutions.

It is dribs and drabs across other parts of the university. Most of science is excellent, but humanities you can expect the usual gaggle of mediocre Marxists and femmos you would find in any other university.

These rankings are usually based upon research publications.

Thumper 11:27 am 10 Oct 08

Ms Thumper mercilessly mocks me as she went to ANU and I went to UC. However, as I constantly remind her, she has a science degree and i have an APPLIED science degree, which means I must have worked harder, or applied myself more, or…

Okay, I’ll just go and sit back under my rock now….

astrojax 11:22 am 10 Oct 08

i just wonder what criteria is used to rank these unis. i would have thought policies that cause, in one year alone, at least three fellows of the royal society to leave, rather than trying to attract this calibre of staff, would set it back a little..?

that said, while it is a pretty good uni, there are surely a dozen or more unis in the US alone that would outrank it? then there’s europe – i sense some sort of geo-parity politics at play in this list.

New Yeah 11:05 am 10 Oct 08

Because ANU is so big it has a great deal of diversity in teaching and research quality. And even more diversity in student opinions on this quality.

Based on my experience, the commerce department is risible and is really not much more than a sifting mechanism for the big accounting firms. Grads probably learn much more on the job than they do at uni there.

The faculty of Asian studies and faculty of arts are much better – lecturers and tutors are more enthusiastic and, dare I say it, even more learned than their commerce colleagues.

I have not studied elsewhere in Australia so have no grounds for comparison with other unis, but for most subjects, I’m sure you could do a lot worse than ANU.

ANU seems to be a good brand to bandy around when looking for a job.

But that is my own experience, and I’m sure the haterz have much to say.

sepi 10:30 am 10 Oct 08

ANU is good for research.

Pretty ordinary for undergraduate degrees. Huge class sizes, lack of attention from lecturers etc.

jakez 10:20 am 10 Oct 08

I didn’t feel particularly lucky to be there. It just gave me the opportunity to mock my fiancee for going to UC.

Then of course when I switched to UC, my friends all had the opportunity to mock me.

To be honest, I found UC (for my purposes) to be the better uni. I think you have to get up into the high postgraduate level to get the real benefits of ANU.

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