The University of Melbourne has broken into the top 40 on a global list ranking higher education prestige, cementing its place as the nation’s top university when it comes to reputation.
The number of Australian institutions in the upper bands of the Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings has risen from four to six, with Monash University and the University of New South Wales making the top 100 for the first time.
The reputation rankings measure perception rather than objective results, but give an insight into how academics from around the globe see the region’s universities.
Annual results to be released by the UK publication on Tuesday will show Monash debuts in the 91-100 band while UNSW starts in the 81-90 category.
The University of Sydney has improved by one place since last year to 49, but the University of Melbourne remains the Australian university with the best global reputation, with a rank of 39, four places higher than last year.
University of Melbourne vice-chancellor Glyn Davis said the improvement reflected the constant pursuit of excellence by researchers and teaching staff.
â€œMelbourne’s sustained leadership and improvement across several different ranking measures highlights the great work being done across the university,â€_x009d_ Professor Davis said.
Monash University president Ed Byrne said the future was bright.
â€œAustralia is ideally situated between the rising academic powerhouses of Asia and the established centres in the old West,” he told the Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings supplement.
Other Australian universities in the list are the Australian National University (ranked 42nd, narrowly behind the University of Melbourne) and the University of Queensland (in the 71-80 band).
The strong showing by Australian universities means the nation now has the third-highest representation in the Times Higher Education top 100 list, behind the United States with 43 institutions in the upper bands and the United Kingdom with nine.
The prestigious US institutions Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the UK’s University of Cambridge retain their reputation rankings as the world’s first, second and third-best respectively.
The UK-based editor of Times Higher Education, Phil Baty, said the survey was “remarkably simplistic” and asked academics to list a small number of universities in their field that were excellent in research and teaching.
Mr Baty said it measured the opinions of thousands of academics, who had an average of 17 years in higher education. A good academic reputation would drive success.
“It’s almost like a virtuous circle, where a good reputation helps you to continue to improve,” he said.
Mr Baty said while Australian universities were objectively in the top end of the world’s universities, global perceptions had lagged.
This gap between perceptions and reality was now narrowing.
Mr Baty said Australia’s rising stocks showed the nation’s universities were highly regarded and “going places”.
Mr Baty said reputation was influenced by universities’ research networks, presence of speakers at major academic conferences, visibility and marketing. Australian universities had good global networks and had understood the need to work with Asia.
“You’ve really embraced the Asian century; you guys have been recruiting students and staff and working on research projects with Asia for a long time,” Mr Baty said.