University rankings expose Pyne’s claims as hollow

Australia’s university system is going from strength to strength, as indicated in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings released today.

Eight Australian universities are now in the top 200: Melbourne, ANU, Sydney, the University of Queensland, Monash, UNSW, UWA and the University of Adelaide.

A further 12 universities have entered the rankings in the 200-400 group.

As the editor, Phil Baty, says:

“This has been a strong year for Australia, with just about all of its top universities moving up the rankings.

“Australia does not have just a few world-class universities, but a world-class system.”

The new rankings have exposed the hollowness of Christopher Pyne’s claim that Australia’s universities will “slide into mediocrity” if his ideological changes to higher education are not implemented.

Indeed, Mr Baty is concerned that the system may no longer be characterised by a depth of world class universities if the changes do go ahead:

“The big question, as Australia moves into this period of radical reform with the full deregulation of tuition fees, is whether this admirable strength-in-depth can be maintained …

“Are we going to see a greater polarisation in Australia between a global super-elite and a large number of also-rans declining?”

Australian universities also performed well in this year’s Shanghai rankings, conducted by Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

In that ranking, Australia had four universities in the top 100 and 19 in the top 500. In the 2004 rankings, Australia had just two universities in the Shanghai rankings top 100, and 14 in the top 500.

Ranking tables are especially important for Australia’s reputation as a global exporter of higher education services. International education brings $15 billion to the economy, making the sector the third biggest export earner after iron ore and coal.

The Government’s reckless changes to universities will place at risk the reputation that draws international students and researchers to Australian universities.

If the Government is really concerned about the excellence of Australia’s universities, it should abandon its radical and short-sighted changes and instead ensure that our world-class system is properly funded.

THURSDAY, 2 OCTOBER 2014


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