Times Higher Education publishes dodgy university rankings for most Australian universities.

THE Times university awards

Times Higher Education (THE) publishes Australian university rankings using a composite performance measure. Rankings are based on research publications and academic prestige. The largest components are "Citations of journal articles" and "Research prestige".

The rankings demonstrate how highly a given university is regarded among academics. To produce world rankings, THE surveys many thousands of academics worldwide each year. THE rankings are comparable to QS and Shanghai rankings.

While THE’s survey is more extensive than U.S. News... it still falls prey to the inherent statistical flaws and response biases of reputation scoring.

THE Australian Rankings: 2021

Aust rank University World rank
1 University of Melbourne 31
2 University of Sydney 51
3 Australian National University 59
4 University of Queensland 62
5 Monash University 64
6 University of New South Wales 67
7 University of Adelaide 118
8 University of Western Australia 139
9 University of Technology Sydney 160
10 University of Canberra 184
11 Queensland University of Technology 186
12 Macquarie University 195
13 Curtin University 201
13 Griffith University 201
13 James Cook University 201
13 La Trobe University 201
13 University of Wollongong 201
18 Australian Catholic University 251
18 Deakin University 251
18 Flinders University 251
18 University of Newcastle 251
18 Western Sydney University 251
23 RMIT University 301
23 University of South Australia 301
25 Swinburne University of Technology 351
25 University of Tasmania 351
25 Victoria University 351
28 Edith Cowan University 401
29 Bond University 501
29 Charles Darwin University 501
29 Murdoch University 501
29 University of Southern Queensland 501
33 Southern Cross University 601
33 University of the Sunshine Coast 601
35 Charles Sturt University 801
35 CQUniversity 801
35 Federation University Australia 801
WP Table Builder

Ranking Components


Citations of journal papers 30%
Research prestige among academics 18%
Journal papers per academic 6%
Research income per academic 6%
Industry income per academic 3%
% of journal articles with a foreign co-author 3%
Ratio of international to domestic staff 3%
Institutional income per academic 2%


Teaching prestige among academics 15%
Academic-to-student ratio 5%
Ratio of international to domestic students 3%


Doctorate graduates per academic 6%
Doctorate-to-bachelor degree ratio 2%

Value of THE University Rankings

For students, THE rankings are useful for quantifying how much regard society (including employers) may hold for a degree from a particular university. If academics hold an institution in high regard, obtaining a degree from that institution may help your career by conferring status.

  • The rankings are based on 13 measures. Almost 70% of a university's rating is determined by researcher output, income and affiliations.
  • Teaching prestige is also a factor, accounting for 15%. This measures teaching quality as perceived by academics in other institutions, which is highly correlated with overall prestige.
  • There is a strong emphasis on doctoral programs, with over 8% of a university's score based on the number of doctorates awarded.

Misleading Statements from Times Higher Education

Time Higher Education claims to provide the only global university performance tables to judge research-led universities across all their core missions: teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. The publisher also claims to provide the most comprehensive and balanced comparisons, which are trusted by students, academics, university leaders, industry and governments.

Our advice to students is to not trust the Times Higher Education claims nor their rankings. The rankings have not been constructed with students in mind.

  • The teaching prestige measure is flawed because it only considers the opinions of academics. How does an academic from one university have any great insight into teaching standards in another?
  • Despite its flaws, it is odd that teaching prestige is given a lower rating than research prestige (15% versus 18%). The weightings just tilt the balance further towards academic research.
  • The heavy weighting on doctoral program size is also strange. Why does this indicate better performance and why it is given a heavy weighting? THE claims that undergraduates tend to value working in a rich environment that includes postgraduates. You would think undergraduates care more about the quality of services delivered to them.

More Australian university rankings

Combined rankings

Shanghai AWRU