Otago slips in global university rankings

University of Otago clocktower building. PHOTO:LINDA ROBERTSON
Otago was ranked 214th, the second-highest ranked New Zealand university, but still well behind Auckland (65th). Photo: Linda Robertson
The University of Otago has slipped slightly on a major international ranking table, and lags behind its main rival Auckland.

International higher education analyst QS Quacquarelli Symonds has released the 21st annual edition of the QS World University Rankings.

It showed that Otago was ranked 214th, the second-highest ranked New Zealand university, but still well behind Auckland (65th).

It represents a slight dip from the previous report, where it was ranked 206th.

However, an Otago University spokeswoman said the university was somewhat pleased by the results.

‘‘The 2025 QS World University Rankings results show our global position has held steady in recent years and that we remain one of New Zealand’s two top-ranked universities.

‘‘Although the University dipped slightly on 2024 results, this year’s ranking of 214 is up slightly on 2023, which saw us ranked 217 globally.’’

The QS subject rankings are derived using a combination of factors.

These include academic reputation which measures how academics from other universities rate a university, in which Otago was ranked at 187 in the world.

‘‘This year’s rankings were the largest ever with QS evaluating 5663 institutions across 106 countries throughout the world, up from 2963 evaluated last year,’’ the spokeswoman noted.

The QS summary noted a couple of potentially worrying trends for the New Zealand universities.

‘‘Where New Zealand's universities make strides in other areas, their efforts to produce skilled and desirable graduates are in decline.

‘‘All the New Zealand Universities decline in their Employer Reputation ranking and all nine decline in Employment Outcomes’’

‘‘It is important for New Zealand's institutions to strengthen their employability strategies to better prepare students for the workplace and build stronger partnerships with industry.’’

The Otago University spokeswoman stressed this latest assessment was based on metrics gathered by QS that related almost entirely to 2022 and prior years, not to the present year.

‘‘Prior to recent years in which the government funding gap grew due to increasing rates of inflation not being matched by funding increases, Otago placed inside the top 200 of the QS World University Rankings.’’

The assessment comes after Otago’s strong performance in the latest QS subject rankings, announced earlier this year.

In these Otago had nine subjects in the global top 100, including four in the top 50; 12th for Sports Related Subjects, 30th for Anatomy and Physiology , 40th for Dentistry (up from 42nd); 44th for Hospitality and Leisure Management.

‘‘These assessments are just one aspect of our University’s performance. We remain committed to academic excellence, student success and impactful research,’’ the Otago University spokeswoman said.

Other ranked New Zealand universities included Universities of Waikato (235th), Massey (239th), Victoria of Wellington (241st), Canterbury (261st), Lincoln (371st) and Auckland University of Technology (412nd).

Internationally, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) took the top position for the thirteenth straight year, just ahead of Imperial College London and Oxford University.

The top-ranked Australian University was the University of Melbourne (13th).