All NZ universities rank in world's top 500

The country's top-ranked university, Auckland, improved by one place to 82nd and five others also rose. With special feature audio.

The University of Auckland has confirmed its leading position in the latest world rankings.

The annual Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings put Auckland at 81st, up one place from last year.

Boston’s MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), which was ranked top for the fifth year, ahead of Stanford (California) and Harvard (Massachusetts).

All eight New Zealand universities are in world’s top 450 out of the total 916 rankings.

The other rankings (in order) are Otago 169th, Canterbury 214th equal, Victoria (Wellington) 228th equal, Waikato 324th, Massey (Palmerston North) 340th equal, Lincoln (Canterbury) 343rd equal and AUT (Auckland) 447th.

Otago improved its ranking from 173rd last year, while Canterbury dropped from 211th.

Others to improve were Victoria (299 in 2015), Waikato (338), Lincoln (373) and AUT (481-90). Massey dropped from 337th.

The QS Rankings consider academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty to student ratio, citations per faculty, international faculty and international students.

Importance of world rankings
Auckland's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stuart McCutcheon says the influence of international university rankings is increasing and that it is important for New Zealand to have highly-ranked universities.

"This will help ensure that high-quality researchers and academics of international standing continue to want to come to this country so that our young New Zealanders benefit from a truly world-class education," he says. 

"We are focused on achieving a high-level of excellence and this is a great result for the university and the country.”

Tertiary Education Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce notes six universities improved their rankings over last year.

“New Zealand has a world-class tertiary education system and it’s great to see our universities continuing to excel in a highly competitive international environment,” he says.

Government funding for the sector has risen 24% since 2008, he adds.

"We also announced $761 million in new funding for the Innovative New Zealand package of science, tertiary and regional development initiatives in Budget 2016, a lot of which will flow into the university sector."

This includes “entrepreneurial universities, which provides $35 million to attract world-leading researchers and their teams, and $34.5 million for centres of Asia Pacific excellence, which will be cross-institutional centres of excellence in the language, culture, politics and economics of countries or groups of countries within the Asia-Pacific region.

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