An international table of the world’s top universities, released this week, suggests New Zealand universities are losing ground on their international counterparts, with the country’s six largest universities all sliding down the rankings.
The QS World University Rankings show all New Zealand’s universities in the top 800, or the top 5 percent in the world. However, it also shows previously ranked universities continuing a trend in recent years of slipping down the ladder.
“With more universities, and particularly more East Asian universities, spending large amounts of money to increase their research, quality and reputation it is no easy task for New Zealand universities to hold their place, ” says TEU vice-president Sandra Grey. “But that task is made near impossible by a government that has cut hundreds of millions of dollars out of tertiary education in the last five years.”
A significant component of the criteria QS uses to rank universities is their staff: student ratio. In New Zealand staff: student ratios have risen from 17.5 students per academic in 2007 to 19 students per academic in 2012.
QS head of research Ben Sowter told Fairfax that New Zealand’s universities had collectively seen a drop in academic reputation, faculty student ratio and international students.
“With tuition-fee hikes and student debt becoming a growing concern for both students and the New Zealand Government, the decline in affordable publicly funded education means many students risk being priced out of a world-class education.”
He told the Otago Daily Times austerity measures in the wake of the recession had contributed to an “affordability crisis” for students at leading international institutions.