University Rankings

Research Analysis, Performance & Profile Office

Various organisations and institutions publish league tables of universities; the most well-known are the Shanghai Jiao Tong Academic Ranking of World Universities, the QS World University Ranking and the Times Higher Education World University Ranking. These league tables use different approaches to ranking universities, each with their own characteristics.

The relative ranking of Australian universities is quite consistent across the three systems. The Group of Eight universities (University of Adelaide, ANU, The University of Melbourne, Monash University, UNSW, The University of Sydney, The University of Queensland, and The University of Western Australia) take out the top eight Australian places in all three ranking systems.



The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), published by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, is one of the oldest and most well-known rankings of universities across the world. In compiling the ranking, ARWU uses criteria such as: the number of staff and alumni of an institution winning Nobel Prizes, the number of elite researchers employed by the institution, publications in the prestigious 'Nature' and 'Science' journals and the amount of research publications produced each year and indexed in the Science Citation Index – Expanded or the Social Sciences Citation Index.

In the Australian context, the ARWU is useful in assessing the amount of elite research in the traditional sciences and the volume of research undertaken at each institution. The ARWU does tend to advantage universities strong in the physical sciences, and those with Nobel laureates amongst its staff and alumni.

Further information:


UNSW ranked in the 101-150th in the 2016 World Rankings, 133rd in fact, and has maintained its rank of 7th in the Go8.

Considering that ARWU has Alumni and Awards as indicators for which many institutions have no entries, ARWU allows a recalculation of the rankings score excluding these indicators. UNSW has a recalculated ranking of 94 globally, and 5th in the Go8.

For details and information on the 2016 Rankings, follow the link to ARWU.

UNSW's ARWU Field Rankings Results - 2016

The Shanghai Jiao Tong ranking report results by field, as well as by institution. In 2016, a recalculation (excluding the Awards and Alumni indicators) placed UNSW in the following rankings:

  • Natural Sciences and Mathematics – 182
  • Life and Agricultural Sciences – 145
  • Engineering/Technology and Computer Science – 41
  • Clinical Medicine and Pharmacy – 98
  • Social Science - 109

UNSW's ARWU Subject Rankings Results - 2016

The Shanghai Jiao Tong ranking also reports results by subject. In 2015, UNSW had very strong results in three subject areas; Chemistry lost 14 spots and ranked 144.

  • Mathematics - UNSW is still the top ranked Australian university, ranked at 69
  • Economics and Business - 77
  • Computer Science - up 15 places to 95
ARWU also now reports rankings results for Academic Subjects.  To find out how UNSW performed in these rankings, check the Rankings tab and select Academic Subjects in the year preferred:


Times Higher Education publishes a ranking of global universities based on criteria related to teaching, research, citations, institutional income, and degree of internationalisation. This ranking is relatively new.

The Times Higher Education World University Ranking gives a broader view of the performance of a research university than the other main rankings, due to its higher emphasis on teaching outcomes, institutional incomes (related to the ability to attract funding) and how it assesses research outcomes.

Web Link:


In 2016, UNSW was ranked at #78 globally, and #5 within Australia.

The Times Higher Education World University Ranking also reports results by field, as well as by institution. In 2016-2017 Rankings by Subject, UNSW was ranked as follows:

  • Clinical, Pre-clinical and Health – 81
  • Engineering and Technology - 56
  • Life Sciences - 88
  • Physical Sciences - 83
  • Social Sciences - 66
  • Business and Economics (New) - 52
  • Computer Science (New) - 51
UNSW did not rank in Arts and Humanities.


A spin-off from the Times Higher Education World University Ranking, the World Reputation Rankings, ranks universities based on the opinion of world academic experts in their fields of research. By invitation-only and using a questionnaire, this ranking surveys the experts on which universities they believe are the best based on their own experiences and opinion.

The University of New South Wales placed in the top 91-100 universities in the world by reputation in 2014; this was the second time UNSW made it to the top 100, which also brought the number of Australian universities in the top list to six then.  UNSW lost its top 100 place in the 2015 and 2016 Reputation Rankings. Only three Australian universities made it to the top 100 list this year.


The QS World University Ranking is published by Quacquarelli Symonds, a higher education information consultant. QS bases its ranking on a survey of academics and employers, staff to student ratio, the proportion of staff and staff that are from overseas, and how often published research is cited by other researchers (based on citation indexed by Scopus).

The QS World University Ranking places a large weight on the reputation of a university amongst its peers, which has been criticised as being too subjective; however it does give an indication of how a university is perceived globally within the academic research community.

Web Link:


In the 2016 QS World University Rankings, UNSW was ranked at #49, down seven places from the previous year which is still a relatively good result, with the University still ranking in the top 50 and has maintained its 4th position in the Go8, ahead of Queensland. UNSW tied with Queensland in the 2015 rankings.

UNSW ranks highly in QS 2015 Field Rankings: Arts & Humanities (41), Engineering & Technology (21), Social Sciences & Management (21), and Life Sciences & Medicine (43) and in Natural Sciences (61), due to strong results in the academic reputation indicator. QS has yet to release the 2016 Field Rankings.


QS also publishes rankings at a subject level, using a slightly different methodology.

In 2016, UNSW’s results were:


  • Anthopology (new)  97
  • Architecture & Built Environment  19
  • Art & Design  29
  • English 52
  • Geography 46
  • History 66
  • Linguistics 77
  • Modern Languages 73 
  • Philosophy 108
  • Social Policy and Administration (new)  38


  • Computer Science & Information Systems 35
  • Engineering – Chemical 33
  • Engineering - Civil & Structural 16
  • Engineering - Electrical & Electronic 43
  • Engineering - Mechanical, Aeronautical & Manufacturing  34
  • Engineeing - Mineral and Mining (new)  16


  • Biological Sciences 69
  • Medicine 46
  • Pharmacy & Pharmacology 65
  • Psychology 16


  • Chemistry 57
  • Earth & Marine Sciences 56
  • Environmental Sciences 24
  • Materials Science 33
  • Mathematics 52
  • Physics & Astronomy 110 


  • Accounting & Finance 13
  • Business & Management  24
  • Communication & Media Studies 40
  • Development Studies  63
  • Economics & Econometrics 38
  • Education 48
  • Law 13
  • Politics & International Studies 100
  • Sociology 58
  • Statistics & Operational Research 65


There are a number of other university rankings available:

CWTS Leiden Ranking:

National Taiwan University Ranking (HEEACT):


US News: