What do international rankings tell us about the performance of New Zealand universities Publications
This report analysed the data behind the Annual Rankings of World Universities Top 500 and Times Higher Education Supplement Top 200 university rankings to see what they can tell us about the performance of New Zealand universities.
Author(s): Warren Smart, Tertiary Sector Performance Analysis, Ministry of Education.
Date Published: March 2010
This report analysed the data behind the Academic Rankings of World Universities (ARWU) Top 500 and Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) Top 200 university rankings to see what they can tell us about the performance of New Zealand universities. Given that many international students are likely to consult league tables when deciding where to study, assessing the message these rankings send is important. The analysis showed that:
- The ARWU Top 500 rankings understate the level of performance by New Zealand universities. Once size of university or the size of the economy is taken into account, New Zealand universities perform at a higher level than indicated by the overall rankings.
- Between 2005 and 2009, New Zealand universities have rated lower than the top Australian universities but have generally maintained their level of performance relative to those top Australian universities in the ARWU Top 500 rankings.
- Even though New Zealand universities are ranked higher in the THES Top 200, methodological weaknesses in the THES approach means there is less value in these rankings. From 2010, the THES rankings will be presented using a revised methodology.
- Rather than a focus on position in the rankings, it may be more appropriate to compare the relative performance of New Zealand universities to the top-performing world university. Alternatively, benchmarking of New Zealand universities against the performance of Australian universities may be more relevant.