Another high-ranking year for Otago University

Otago University vice-chancellor Prof Vernon Squire. Photo: ODT files
Otago University vice-chancellor Prof Vernon Squire. Photo: ODT files

The University of Otago continues to place among the best universities in the world.

Now in its eighth year, the annual QS World University Rankings by Subject compares academic reputation, employer reputation, research citations and impact.

Otago University has once again out-performed all New Zealand universities except for the University of Auckland.

The scores cover survey responses from more than 170,000 academics and 158,000 employers worldwide. A total of 1130 institutions have been ranked across 48 subjects in five subject areas. 

  • Go to the QS Top Universities website for a full list of the QS World University Rankings by Subject.

New Zealand universities placed in the Top 50 institutions for 32 subjects, four more than in 2017. Of those, 18 are taken by the University of Auckland - a testament to its global competitiveness for a range of core disciplines.

Eight of NZ's universities are ranked, with a total of 175 departments featured across the 48 tables. Of these departments 49 improved their rank, while only 29 dropped in ranking.

The most-ranked universities – those who can lay claim to excellence in more subjects than their peers – are the University of Auckland, which is ranked in 40 disciplines, and the University of Otago, which is ranked in 33.

"These are stronger results compared to 2017, "which was in turn much stronger than 2016," says

Otago's deputy vice-chancellor Professor Vernon Squire said the latest results were "a welcome recognition of the range and quality of our teaching and research across the disciplines, and what we have achieved."

Graphic: NZ Herald
Graphic: NZ Herald

Universities NZ executive director Chris Whelan said the results were pleasing and demonstrate the commitment and resourcefulness of Kiwi institutions.

"They show why all eight of our universities are ranked in the top 3 percent globally," he said.

"While we expect some changes from year-to-year due to sampling variances, the overall upwards trend is positive, and an across-the-board increase is welcome.

"The results show that everyone who gets an education at NZ university is getting a world-class education, and this country continues to produce world-leading research."

Whelan said it was good to see New Zealand universities still ranked within the world's top 500, and delivering teaching and research that competes with countries like Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, all of which receive significantly more funding per student.

"Despite these positive results, we must not be complacent. If we are to improve or even maintain our rankings, we must increase investment in educational quality," he said.

Globally, Harvard University is again the dominant institution, ranking number-one for 14 subjects. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology follows closely behind with 12 number-one departments.



Photo: ODT files
Photo: ODT files

University of Otago

• The University of Otago has five subjects in the top 50 worldwide, three of which improved their position within the Top 50.

• In the top five subject areas for Otago, physical education is ranked 12th in the world, and dentistry is ranked 27th.

• Archaeology, anatomy and physiology and development studies also achieved top-50 rankings, placing 28th, 29th and 39th respectively.

• As well as 15 subjects in the top 100, Otago also has another seven subjects in the top 150, and six in the 151 to 200 band.

• University of Otago has 33 subjects that are internationally ranked.

"These are stronger results compared to 2017, which was in turn much stronger than 2016," says Otago's deputy vice-chancellor Professor Vernon Squire.

"They are welcome recognition of the range and quality of our teaching and research across the disciplines, and what we have achieved.

"I take this opportunity to also recognise the hard work of the staff involved in the many departments that feature in these rankings."

Photo: NZ Herald
Photo: NZ Herald

The University of Auckland

• The university was recognised among the top 10 tertiary institutions in the world for archaeology, placing in 10th, up six places from last year.

• It placed 17th in education and 18th in anatomy and physiology.

• Auckland had 18 top-50 places across the 48 subject rankings, including law in 29th place, geography in 29th place, philosophy in 36th place, and business and management studies in 43rd place.

• The highest faculty ranking for any New Zealand university remains the University of Auckland's arts and humanities in 28th place.

• The university has 40 subjects that are internationally ranked.

University of Auckland vice-chancellor Professor Stuart McCutcheon said he was particularly pleased with this year's results given the increasing need to be globally competitive.

"Not only do these outstanding rankings cement our status as New Zealand's leading university, they show that we are more than holding our own internationally.

"To have achieved this given the low levels of funding that NZ universities receive is testimony to the hard work of our excellent staff.

"There is no doubt of the calibre and comprehensive nature of our teaching and research. Our graduates and research outputs are effecting real change here and around the world."

University of Waikato

• The University of Waikato has 13 disciplines ranked in the top 300.

• It featured in the Top 50 in the world, placed 27th in hospitality and leisure management

University of Waikato vice-chancellor Professor Neil Quigley said the new subject rankings further reinforce the university's status as one of the top 1.1 per cent of universities, as well as the continuing growth in excellence, research and teaching.

The result is "an accolade for our academics, who are carrying out groundbreaking research" he said.

"It also acknowledges our innovative approach to education, and the very high regard employers have for our graduates."

Photo: Victoria University
Photo: Victoria University

Victoria University of Wellington

• Victoria ranked in the top 40 for law in 38th place, 28th for hospitality and leisure management and 40th for library and information management.

• It ranked in the Top 51-100 in nine subjects, including; english, history, psychology, development studies, geography, earth sciences, performing arts, linguistics, and archaeology

• Victoria University has 31 subjects that are internationally ranked.

• The results show that the university is among the top 1 per cent of universities in the world for 17 subjects and in the top 2 per cent of universities overall.

Vice-chancellor Professor Grant Guilford said the show Victoria's standing as an "internationally respected and globally ranked capital city university".

Victoria's ranking at 38 in the world for law, up from 46 in 2017, reflects the university's strength in this area.

Auckland University of Technology (AUT)

• Placed 35th in hospitality and leisure management, up 10 places from last year.

• AUT also placed 42nd in sports-related subjects.

• Ranked in the Top 51-100 in Nursing.

• Had 13 internationally ranked subjects overall.

AUT vice-chancellor Derek McCormack is pleased to see that AUT continues to move up the international rankings.

"While these rankings do not drive our behaviour as a university, it is nevertheless rewarding to see international recognition for our performance."

University of Canterbury

• Canterbury University has 22 subjects that are internationally ranked.

• Its highest rating subjects are civil engineering and geography, which rank in the top 51-100.

Massey University

• Massey University is on the verge of entering the top 20 for agriculture and forestry, placed 22nd, and veterinary science placed 23rd.

• It ranked in the Top 51-100 in two subjects, including; art & design, and development studies.

Lincoln University

• Lincoln University ranked 44th in agriculture & forestry, a drop from 39th last year.

• It had two internationally ranked subjects in total.

A University spokesperson said the rankings confirm Lincoln's status as a top-50 university for Agriculture.

"The 10-year plan for Lincoln University presents the challenge to rise in rank to the top five in Agriculture and initiatives are already underway to ensure that the university meets this target."


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