The 2015 Academic Ranking of World Universities was released over the weekend.  In 2014, HECG analysis determined exact positions for universities ranked below 100 and reported the impressive net improvement of 246 places for the 20 Australian universities included the World Ranking of 500 universities.

In 2015, our universities have moved upward another 133 net places.  Another great result considering the significantly increased competition, particularly from Asia.  See table for a summary of the last 3 years.

The biggest change has been the quantum of movement by both Curtin University (157 places) and University of Wollongong (91 places) between 2013-15.  This is a fantastic result for these institutions, making large strides in each of the last three years with both now well inside the top 300 institutions in the world.  One year movements can be methodology changes but three years in a row is a demonstration of a University making consistent progress.

Both universities have benefited from the move to the Thomson Reuters new highly cited (HiCi) researcher database, arguably with a more accurate methodology as it is based on more recent publications and ARWU now only include the primary affiliated institution for a researcher.  Curtin and Wollongong have a greater number of prestigious researchers in the new database, resulting in their big climb up the rankings ladder.  Curtin has also increased publications in Nature and Science – another key component of the final score.

ARWU is often considered the most prestigious of all university rankings systems as it is purely quantitative and objective in methodology, unlike the Times or QS.  Either way, this ranking is a very good measure of research performance.  It is a virtuous cycle where historically the top 8 ranked universities also received the highest amount of research block funding allocations each year.