Three NZ universities rated among world's top 200

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    By Julie Middleton

    Three New Zealand universities have been rated among the world’s top 200 for the second year in a row.

    The University of Auckland came in at 52, Otago at equal 186 and Massey at equal 188 in the second annual Times Higher Education Supplement rankings.

    But Auckland has done particularly well, leaping 15 places from last year.

    And the 30,883-student university is the only New Zealand tertiary institution that had individual departments make the survey’s top 100 lists - in arts and humanities, biomedicine, technology, science and social science.

    University vice-chancellor Professor Stuart McCutcheon says he is "pleased but not over the top" about the upward vault.

    "We run a lot of races simultaneously, and we’ve just improved our ranking on one of them. You should not put too much store on it.

    "That said, I’d rather be going up in the rankings than down."

    As well as compiling ratings from 2375 academics, the study gauges a number of measures, including the number of times research papers are cited, staff-student ratios, and the number of international students and staff.

    The 2005 analysis included, for the first time, a measure based on the views of 333 international employers on the universities from which they preferred to recruit.

    "You have to think about it as one measure of how the university is doing," said Professor McCutcheon.

    "You should not put all your eggs in the one rankings basket, and you shouldn’t manage the institution just to increase rankings."

    Such studies could not objectively measure things such as teaching calibre and the quality of the student experience, and all rankings systems had "the possibility of biases or things going on in the system you don’t understand", he said.

    This one, in seeking academics’ and employers’ opinions of various universities, had several highly subjective elements.

    But Professor McCutcheon said the Times survey was viewed as "reasonably thorough" and such rankings were influential among some prospective overseas students and in cultures where New Zealand was little-known.

    "Certainly in southwest and north Asia, ranking systems are very important when it comes to students making decisions about which university they might attend."

    The upward climb of their former university enhanced the value of graduates’ CVs, he said.

    Foreign students are big business: last year the university had more than 5500 international students from 85 countries among its 30,883 full-time equivalent students. Massey had 4809 and Otago 1983.

    The Times supplement once again dubbed Harvard University in the United States as the world’s top institution overall, followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge and Oxford in Britain, and Stanford in the US.

    The US has 54 of the top 200 universities, followed by Britain with 24 and Australia with 17.

    According to survey co-ordinator Martin Ince, who is a contributing editor to the Times Higher Education Supplement, the principal motivation for the survey was that "although scholarship has always been international, the world of higher education is becoming one of the most global sectors of the world economy".

    WORLD’S TOP 200

    1 Harvard University (1 last year)
    2 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (3)
    52 Auckland (67)
    186= Otago (114)
    188= Massey (108)

    TOP 100

    Arts and humanities

    1 Harvard (1 last year)
    25 Auckland (new to list)


    1 Harvard (1 last year)
    33 Auckland (36)


    1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2)
    49 Auckland (57)

    Social science

    1 Harvard (1)
    65 Auckland (new to list)


    1 Cambridge (1)
    72 Auckland (99)

    Best 50 outside Europe and North America

    1 Beijing (15 last year)
    2 Tokyo (16)
    3 Melbourne (19)
    4 National, Singapore (22)
    5 Australian National (23)
    16 Auckland (52)
    50 Otago (186=)

    Source: World University Rankings 2005, the Times Higher Education Supplement

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