The Academic Ranking Of World Universities

An assessment carried out by AllAboutUni.com reveals that Australia has a high density of the World's Top-500 universities compared to other OECD countries. AllAboutUni.com is an independent, global and interactive website where visitors can obtain information about universities (global rankings, student reviews, university news and campus pictures).

The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) is produced by the Institute of Higher Education at the Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Several indicators of academic or research performance are used to establish the ranking, these include highly cited researchers, articles indexed in major citation indices and staff winning Nobel Prizes.


The World’s Top-500 universities (2008) are mainly located in Europe (n=210; 40%), the Americas (n=190; 40%) and the Asian/Pacific region (n=100; 20%). There are 15 universities located in Australia, representing 3% of the World's Top-500 universities and 15% of the universities in the Asian/Pacific region.

The Top-5 universities in Australia are: 1. Australian National University (ranked 59th in the world); 2.University of Melbourne (73rd); 3.University of Sydney (97th); 4. University of Queensland (101-151) and University of Western Australia (101-151). As with many countries, the top university is located in the capital city (Canberra).

In order to make inter-country comparisons, AllAboutUni.com calculates the number of universities in the World’s Top-500 per million inhabitants. The overall number of universities per million inhabitants is 0.4 for OECD, with the highest densities found in small countries in Western Europe (Sweden (1.2), Finland (1.1) and Switzerland (1.0)) and New Zealand (1.2).

The number of universities in the World’s Top-500 universities that are located in Australia is 0.7 per million inhabitants. Other large industrialized countries have the following figures: Australia (0.7), the Netherlands (0.7), United Kingdom (0.7), Canada (0.6), United States (0.5), Germany (0.5), France (0.4), Italy (0.4), Japan (0.2), Spain (0.2) and South Korea (0.2).

At the top of the ARWU ranking, there are three Australian universities in the World’s Top-100 universities. This compares to 54 for the US, eleven for the UK, six for Germany, four each for Canada, Japan and Sweden, and three for Australia, France and Switzerland. All other countries have fewer than three universities in the World’s Top-100 universities.

In conclusion, Australia performs well when its universities are compared to other OECD countries. It has a relatively high density of top universities per million inhabitants and has three universities in the World's Top-100.

Author: John Paget
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