Australia Today

Australian Unis Continue to Drop in Global Rankings – Is Anyone Surprised?

Every Australian university ranked in the world’s top 200 has slipped this year and only one remains in the top 50.

Every Australian university ranked in the world’s top 200 has slipped this year, reflecting a four-year downward trend, with only one left in the world’s top 50.

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2024 – considered the most prestigious ranking scale – was released on Wednesday and looked at 1904 universities around the world and marked them on 18 different performance indicators, including the quality of research its students publish and teaching quality. It’s been running for 20 years and and in the last five, Australia’s top universities have been ranking worse and worse.


The University of Melbourne, Australia’s highest ranked, is now the only Australian institution in the world’s top 50. It slipped from 35 in 2023 to 37 in 2024.

Australia’s next best is Monash University, which tumbled 10 places from last year down to 54th.

Just six Australian universities were in the top 100 this year and 11 in total in the top 200.

Sydney University dropped from 54th to 60th and Adelaide University plummeted from 88th to joint 111th.

Beyond the 200 mark universities are grouped into brackets of 50, and 10 Australian universities did jump up a bracket, including Swinburne institute of Technology which moved from the 251-300 box to 201-250.

Accessing university in Australia has been gradually dropping since 1989, when 15 years free tertiary education for all Australians came to an end and fees began to climb.

More recently, the Covid-19 pandemic financially damaged our multi-billion dollar higher education sector when international students were barred from studying here.

In July, a report from the Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work found the underfunding of universities and the increasing corporatisation of the sector was creating poor working conditions for staff and impacting the quality of education for students.


It also found that 83 per cent of respondents feared their university focussed on profit above education.

University staff in Melbourne in particular have also repeatedly voiced concerns this year and protested the increasing casualisation of the teaching workforce, stagnant pay rates and building pressure on each staff member to take on more work from more students.

Melbourne university staff went on strike for one week last month – the longest Australian university strike in a century – and Monash University staff are have announced a 48-hour strike on October 9.

In the Times 2024 rankings, Australian universities faired in the bottom 15 per cent of the world for student-to-staff ratios.

Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson told the Sydney Morning Herald Covid’s impact was evident and that universities needed more government funding to maintain teaching quality.

“We need the full support of government to continue performing these vital functions [undertaking research and educating skilled workers], which is why the Australian Universities Accord must deliver the funding and policy settings we need to thrive,” she said.

But union protestors have also said changed needs to come from within, criticising the fact that Vice-Chancellor Duncan Maskell is Australia’s highest paid university vice-chancellor on an annual salary of $1.5 million dollars, while other staff members go three months of the year or more without a pay slip.

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Aleksandra Bliszczyk is the Deputy Editor of VICE Australia. Follow her on Instagram.