ANU Vice-Chancellor Ian Young: “We do take rankings seriously.” Photo: Alex EllinghausenThe Australian National University has fallen eight places on the most rigorous global research league table.

The Academic Ranking of World Universities produced by China’s Shanghai Jiao Tong University places the ANU at 74 this year, down from 66 last year.

Meanwhile, the University of Melbourne continues its climb up the rankings, clawing another 10 places to reach 44 and breaking a record for an Australian entry.

Just six years ago, the ANU held the top Australian ranking at 57, compared with Melbourne at 79.

the University of Queensland, has held on to 85th place.

Vice Chancellor Ian Young said the ANU remained committed to “making permanent our place as one of the great universities of the world, and I’m pleased to see we remain in great company amongst the top 1 per cent of universities globally”.

“While rankings do move around, and we have been affected by a change this year in the methodology used, we do take rankings seriously as one of the comparative measures of performance.”

Those changes to methodology relate to the timeframe for calculating highly cited researchers – reducing the time frame for measuring the number of highly-cited papers from the past 30 years to 10 years – between 2002 to 2011.

“We are committed to fostering excellence and to performance development – one of the reasons ANU started an academic renewal program last year focused on creating opportunities for high-potential early career staff was to ensure we build a future on a foundation of solid academic excellence,” Professor Young said.

He noted there was a lag in ranking systems, so he expected it would take some years before the initiatives put in place would be reflected in the rankings.

Overall, Australia lost an entry into the world’s top 500 in La Trobe University but gained another in Deakin University.

The University of Western Australia was 88th – up from 91st place last year – while Sydney University came in in the 101-150 bracket – down from 97th last year. The Academic Ranking of World Universities is widely recognised as the most reliable list which rates universities on objective research performance indicators. It assesses prestige research using indicators such as the number of citations by a university’s researchers in top journals and the number of Nobel prizes and Fields medals won by a university’s academic staff and alumni.

ANU ranked No.50 in the world when the ranking was first published in 2003. This is the fourth successive year Melbourne has been ranked top in Australia.

Harvard University remains the number one in the world for the 12th year running. The rest of the top 10 are: Stanford, MIT, Berkeley, Cambridge, Princeton, Caltech, Columbia, Chicago and Oxford. The University of Tokyo (21st) and Kyoto University (26th) top other universities in Asia.

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