Australia has been ranked 10th out of 50 nations in an annual ranking of national systems of higher education conducted by Universitas, a global network of research universities. That’s one notch lower than last year.
In its report Universitas says: “The top ten countries are the United States, Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Singapore and Australia.
However, Australia did better on some measures: “Institutional financial autonomy of public universities is rated highest in Hong Kong SAR and the United Kingdom followed by the United States and Australia,” Universitas said. Also: “Singapore, Australia and the United Kingdom have the highest proportion of international students,” and: “Publications per head of population are highest in Denmark, Sweden, Australia and Switzerland: an unchanged top four.”
Countries were evaluated on the basis of 25 attributes grouped into four modules: Resources, Environment, Connectivity and Output. Output was weighted at 40 percent and the other modules at 20 percent each. Australia’s ranking of 10th was a result of coming 18th for resources, 13th for connectivity, seventh for output and sixth for environment.
The report was prepared by three researchers from the University of Melbourne: Ross Williams, Anne Leahy and Paul Jensen, and Gaétan de Rassenfosse, from EPFL, Switzerland.
Williams was reported in The Australian saying: “It is entire systems, not just research intensive universities as measured by the major international rankings, which are important to the economic and cultural development of a nation.
"The interrelationships between the different variables throw light on what is needed to improve the standing of a country’s system of higher education.It shows a very high correlation between the scores for connectivity and resources, most noticeably for the Nordic countries and Switzerland. Australia is ranked 18th on resources but this includes a lowly rank of 44 for government expenditure as a share of GDP.”
He was also reported saying that high taxing, high government investment education systems in European countries performed much better on the ranking than most Asian systems which poured vast resources into a small number of institutions.
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