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September 20, 2015 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Stuck in the middle with Q(S)

Victoria University has officially moved to 229th place among more than 3,500 universities across the globe, according to the latest QS University Rankings.

The University has moved up 46 positions from its place in 2014 but remains in fourth place among New Zealand universities after Auckland, Otago and Canterbury.


Vice-Chancellor Grant Guilford hailed Vic’s nominal ascension. “The outstanding reputation of our academics and the quality of our research is vital to our success,” he said.

“Being a globally ranked capital city university is not only important for our region, it is also essential for New Zealand. Victoria holds an unparalleled position as the university which can lead New Zealand’s thinking on major issues,” Guilford says.

VUWSA President Rick Zwaan told Salient that VUWSA is “pleased to see Victoria’s rankings increasing”, but that it was “important that we continue to focus on genuinely improving academic quality rather than getting too fixated on how to play the rankings game, which relies on questionable methodology”.

Zwaan is not alone in his criticism of the rankings and the methodology used. University of British Columbia Associate Professor Michelle Stack claimed that “rankings owned by media or other multinational corporate entities [Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) is a British company]  have a responsibility to investors, not the public good.

“What gets left out in the formulas used by popular ranking is the responsibility of universities to the public good. Reputation can be bought. The QS produces international and national ranking tables but, for an audit and licensing fee a university can apply to be a QS star,” Stack said.

In 2012, the Cambridge Student reported “there is also too much focus on research and not enough focus on gauging the teaching quality, which misses the point of what a league table should achieve”.

Currently, the surveys are based on more than 76,000 academics and 44,000 employers and include a range of criteria.

How it’s tested

  • 40% academic reputation from a global survey, academics are asked where the best work is currently taking place in their field.
  • 10% from a survey of graduate employers identifying universities that produce the best graduates.
  • 20% is based on how often the university’s published research is cited in academic literature.
  • 20% from the ratio of academics employed to students.
  • 5% from the proportion of foreign students at the university.
  • 5% from the proportion of foreign faculty members.

How we stack up


University of Auckland (26)
University of Canterbury (51-100)
Victoria University (51-100)
Massey University (51-100)
University of Otago (101-150)
University of Waikato (101-150)
AUT (101-150)


University of Auckland (51-100)
University of Otago (101-150)
University of Canterbury (301-400)
Massey University (301-400)


University of Auckland (101-150)
Victoria University (101-150)
University of Waikato (101-150)
University of Canterbury (201-250)


University of Auckland (26)
University of Otago (51-100)
Victoria University (51-100)
University of Waikato (51-100)
Massey University(101-150)
University of Canterbury (101-150)


University of Auckland (33=)
Victoria University (45=)
University of Canterbury (51-100)
University of Otago (51-100)


University of Auckland (51-100)
University of Canterbury (251-300)
Massey University (251-300)
Victoria (301-400)
University of Otago (301-400)

Global Rankings

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  2. Harvard University
  3. University of Cambridge

(New Zealand)

  1. University of Auckland
  2. University of Otago
  3. University of Canterbury
  4. Victoria University
  5. Massey University
  6. University of Waikato
  7. Lincoln University
  8. AUT

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