University rankings: NZ's winners and losers

Massey University
Massey University is rising through the ranks according to new international rankings. Photo credit:

Massey University and the University of Waikato are zipping up the ranks while our other schools are staying stagnant, according to the latest QS World University Rankings.   

The top 1000 universities in the world for 2020 have been announced, with all eight of New Zealand's making the first 500.

Top-ranked is the University of Auckland at 88 - the only one to crack the top 100. It slipped slightly since last year, down three places from 85th.

The University of Otago is steady at 176th (one down from 2019) while Victoria University of Wellington rose six places to 215th, which Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Guilford called "very pleasing".

The University of Canterbury is up four places to number 227.

Our fifth-ranked school, the University of Waikato has been steadily climbing up the ranks for six years running. It now sits at 266th, up from 274th a year ago - 135 places higher since 2014.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Neil Quigley called it a "huge accomplishment", especially because the university ranked 72nd in the world for its academics' papers being cited by international researchers.

But Massey University is the real star, shooting up 45 places from 332nd to 287th.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas says the impressive improvement is the result of a "tremendous effort" from the university faculty.

"It reflects improved reputation with peers, with stakeholders and the employers of our graduates. It reflects the quality of research we are producing and our research productivity. It also reflects the diversity brought by our international students and staff."

Lincoln University suffered a significant demotion from 317th to 356th, while Auckland University of Technology (AUT) rose an impressive 22 places to 442nd.

The QS World University Rankings take into account six indicators: academic reputation, employer reputation, research citations, staff-student ratios, international student ratio and international staff ratio.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Stanford University, Harvard University, the University of Oxford and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) made up the top five.