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University rankings – what they mean and why they're important

28/05/2020 | 4 MIN

Did you know UWA is ranked as the 86th best university in the world and first in Western Australia in the QS World University Rankings for 2020?

World university rankings are an excellent way for you to make an informed decision about where to study; highlighting which universities score best in academic reputation and research, and determining who is leading the way in specific subjects and disciplines.

Overall, rankings are a distinguished and objective guide to the best universities in the world. If you want to study at a globally recognised institution, then we recommend using these rankings to help choose the right university for you.

Let’s take a closer look at the ranking systems and what this means to you as a student.

How do the world university rankings work?

Rankings are compiled using a simple framework to capture the performance of a university. The QS Rankings and Academic Ranking of World Universities (AWRU) are two globally recognised ranking systems you can use for your research. Here, universities are benchmarked for areas of improvement, as well as showcasing their strengths in key industries and teaching capabilities.

The QS World Rankings, for example, evaluate each university based on six key metrics including:

  1. Academic Reputation (40%)
  2. Employer Reputation (40%)
  3. Faculty/Student Ratio (20%)
  4. Citations per faculty (20%)
  5. International Faculty Ratio (5%)
  6. International Student Ratio (5%)

In a recent report titled "Demystifying the Rankings: A Guide for Universities", Dr Shadi Hijazi, a rankings expert and Senior Consultant at QS, says:

“The rankings help in identifying best practice globally, in areas an institution wants to develop. This enables efficient learning from others for better implementation.”

How do the world university rankings benefit UWA students?

At UWA we focus on the student and how we are creating value for them, meaning everything we do is about enhancing the student experience and providing a world-class education. Our values include a world-class learning experience, enabling career opportunities and a strong, enduring reputation.

The QS and AWRU rankings are an essential part of this; they help us measure our success and performance as a university; empowering you to make the best decision for your career goals. If you want to study at a truly world-class university like UWA, here are the key benefits to consider for you and your career.

Facilities Biochemistry and Molecular Biology students

Academic Reputation

This measurement is based on the expert opinions of over 80,000 individuals in the higher education sector, regarding teaching and research quality. A university’s academic reputation is one of the most important results for you to consider when doing your research. It highlights the world’s best academics tackling global challenges. It defines the leaders in your field using the most up to date information as discoveries happen.

IOMRC Boardroom

Faculty to Student Ratio

Your learning experience should be nothing less than world-class. The world rankings determine this by measuring the extent to which institutions offer students meaningful access to lecturers and tutors. Class sizes matter, and a low faculty/studio ratio means enhanced one-on-one time with your lecturers and better peer-to-peer learning.

UWA Business School

Proportion of International Staff

World-class learning means world class leaders. The rankings measurement of international staff is one of the leading ways to determine academic reputation. What does this mean for you? A university with a diverse portfolio of teaching staff offers you an excellent opportunity to learn from some of the brightest minds all over the world.

Winthrop Hall with students

Proportion of International Students

Do you want to enhance your learning experience and surround yourself with other like-minded students? The rankings measure the strength of a universities international brand and calculate the proportion of international students a university attracts. More international students expose you to a diverse student community and increases the breadth of talent you will be learning alongside.

Employer Reputation

The QS Employer Survey receives a growing response rate of over 40,000 respondents. The survey asks employers to identify the institutions they feel produce the most competent graduates. This one speaks for itself. A university that is highly regarded by future employers means increased employability. This is a huge benefit to you as you become the graduate employers are looking for and want to recruit.

Further to this, a university's excellence in different fields of study can help you determine which university is going to further your knowledge and employability success. For example, UWA is currently ranked first in Australia for Biological Sciences; Clinical Medicine; Agricultural Science; Environmental Science and Engineering; and Marine/Ocean Engineering (ARWU 2019). It ranks within the top 50 (QS 2019) for Anatomy and Physiology (49th), Agriculture and Forestry (22nd), Civil and Structural Engineering (33rd), Mineral and Mining Engineering (4th), Psychology (42nd) and Sports Related subjects (24th). If you are considering these subjects, then you can feel confident that you are learning from a globally recognised institution.

Overall, rankings help to push the development of higher education and do an excellent job to align with the world’s leading universities. When a university is seen as a global leader, they build a diverse learning landscape for you as a student to enjoy. In Western Australia, there is only one university ranked in the top 100 universities in the world, and that’s UWA.

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