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Australian universities now more shit: report

Nick Gowland shares the depressing news.

Sydney University has dropped significantly in this year’s Times Higher Education World Reputation Ranking, possibly due to concern for the Abbott Government’s planned cuts to tertiary education spending.

Despite being ranked the world’s 49th best university in the 2013 survey, this year Sydney University only made the 61-70 bracket in the popular annual ranking of the world’s top universities.

The other four Australian institutions on the list also lost ground since last year, with Melbourne University, the highest ranked institution, dropping from 39 to 43.

The United States took out the top three spots with Harvard, MIT and Stanford, with the UK’s Cambridge and Oxford taking fourth and fifth respectively.

The order of universities is determined by a survey of over 10,000 international academics concerning their opinions on institutions operating within their disciplines.

Although these rankings are a reflection of aggregate subjective opinion, they are considered vital by large competitive universities seeking to attract valuable international student fees, which are worth over $14 billion a year to Australian education institutions.

Phil Baty, editor of the 2014 Times Higher Education ranking, suggested to ABC News that the drop in confidence in Australian universities could be the result of $2.3 billion in university spending cuts announced by the former Labor Government in April last year.

“We’re seeing huge amounts of money being put into universities to make them remain world class. But in Australia the funding cuts that are coming could hurt for years to come,” he said.

Although initially intending to finance the now-uncertain Gonski School funding reforms, the Coalition has signalled that it is looking to go ahead with the cuts to tertiary education.