Funding cuts see NZ universities slide down world rankings

New Zealand's top universities are sliding down the world rankings because of staff cuts.

Auckland, Otago, Victoria, Canterbury, Massey and AUT all slipped down in the latest QS World University Rankings report, compiled from surveys with more than 80,000 academics and 30,000 employers, and looking at student/staff ratios.

Waikato and Lincoln were the only two to buck the trend, but even they struggled with staff/student ratios.

"The increase in enrolments - and the decrease in faculty numbers - reported by the country's universities sees all eight receive a lower score for faculty/student ratio," according to QS.

Auckland remains the country's top university, falling three places to 85th in the world.

The second-best university according to the report is Otago at 175th (down 24 places), followed by Canterbury (231st, down 17), Victoria (221st, down two), Waikato (292nd, up 18), Lincoln (317, up two) and AUT (464th, down 25).

Universities NZ director Chris Whelan says there has been a "steep decline" in per-student funding over the last decade.

"This year's Budget was for the first time in nearly 20 years that we've had no increase whatsoever in funding," he told Newshub.

"Universities can't maintain the number of staff they've had in the past, so you've seen a slow decline in the ratio of staff to students. All of that flows through to the quality that universities are able to provide."

Waikato University acting vice-chancellor Professor Alister Jones told NZME his institution's success is down to boosting the number of students and staff from overseas, particularly China, building academic links.

How each NZ university did in the latest QS rankings.
How each NZ university did in the latest QS rankings. Photo credit: QS

Internationally, Massachusetts Institute of Technology was named the best in the world for the seventh year in a row, scoring a perfect score in every category.

In the UK, Oxford overtook its historic rival Cambridge for the first time, the pair swapping the fifth and sixth places.

The top 10 universities in the world, according to QS, are:

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  2. Stanford University
  3. Harvard University
  4. California Institute of Technology
  5. University of Oxford
  6. University of Cambridge
  7. ETH Zurich
  8. Imperial College London
  9. University of Chicago
  10. University College London

That's the same 10 as last year, but in a slightly different order.


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