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The Great Court at UQ's St Lucia Campus

Do university rankings matter in Australia?

Why UQ is one of the top-ranked universities in the world
Uni life
Published 20 Jul, 2021  ·  9 minute read

The University of Queensland is ranked among the world’s top universities, as measured by several key independent rankings. Our global reputation is one of the main reasons that international students choose UQ.

International students value these rankings as an objective and easy way to evaluate and compare the world's top universities. Alongside a university’s location, its reputation and global ranking might be your deciding factor of where you choose to study.

But why do university rankings matter in Australia and what will they mean to you if you get a degree from UQ? Rankings can be a strong indicator of:

  • your teaching and learning quality
  • your overall university experience
  • your future employment outcomes.

This article explains UQ’s major international rankings, why we have achieved these rankings and why that should matter if you are considering study at UQ.

QS World University Rankings, 2022

UQ is ranked 5th in Australia and 47th in the world’s best universities.

The 2022 QS World University Rankings considered more than 1600 universities from 97 international locations and evaluated more than a thousand of them in detail. Based on this consideration, UQ is in the top 4% of universities globally.

The QS World University Ranking is one of the most prestigious university rankings in the world and is the only international ranking to have received International Ranking Expert Group (IREG) approval.

Why has UQ achieved this result in this ranking?

Academics from around the world are asked to consider and vote for who they perceive as top institutions. In addition, academics receive information from employers on the graduates they are employing.

UQ’s reputation as one of Australia’s most research-intensive universities boosted its performance in the rankings. Several high-profile research projects have influenced this, including the development of the Gardasil cervical cancer vaccine. More recently, new vaccine technology has been making international news – this “molecular clamp technology” allows for the development of new vaccines against emerging diseases in weeks, rather than years. Promising results have already been obtained for vaccines against influenza, Ebola and MERS.  

Dr Ian Frazer and team of researchers working in lab
UQ’s pioneering research has benefited millions of lives around the world

Why does this university ranking matter to me?

This ranking matters to you if you want to earn a degree from a globally recognised university.

QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2021

UQ ranks 1st in Australia and 2nd in the world in the field of Sports-related subjects, and 2nd in Australia and 3rd in the world for Mineral and Mining Engineering. UQ is in the top 3 in the world in 2 subjects and top 30 in 10 subjects.

  • 2nd in Sports-related subjects
  • 3rd in Mineral and Mining Engineering
  • 17th in Environmental Sciences
  • 26th in Psychology
  • 26th in Veterinary Science
  • 26th in Agriculture and Forestry
  • 27th in Petroleum Engineering
  • 29th in Anatomy and Physiology
  • 30th in Education
  • 30th in Civil and Structural Engineering
Man on rowing machine being supervised by trainer
UQ ranks 2nd in the world for sports-related subjects.

Why has UQ achieved this result in this ranking?

UQ’s high-quality research translates to teaching and learning. UQ’s research output has proven impact on communities around the world – creating positive change globally.

Around the globe, other academics are looking to UQ and its academic reputation and citing research produced by UQ researchers to inform their own work. Essentially, the above accolades mean that UQ research is contributing to further discoveries, developments and enhanced learning.

Why is this university ranking important for you?

This ranking should matter to you if you want to choose your university based on study areas of interest, as UQ is a respected university across a diverse range of fields.

Archeology students undertaking field work in a dig site
UQ students benefit from research-led teaching and practical learning.

Dr Anna Florin is a recent graduate from the PhD Program at the School of Social Science. Anna also completed her undergraduate studies within the Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty at UQ.  

“The clear passion and research-based teaching that I was exposed to in my undergraduate studies drove me to major in Archaeology and, eventually, to consider a research career in the field.

I was very lucky to be exposed to archaeological fieldwork as part of my studies at UQ. I was awarded a UQ Advantage Grant to participate in an excavation in Turkey and I just fell in love with the experience. I couldn’t believe that archaeologists had the chance to travel, and immerse themselves in cultures, both in the past but also in the present. I was hooked.”

QS Graduate Employability Rankings, 2020

UQ is ranked 57th in the world and 4th in Australia in the 2020 QS Graduate Employability Ranking. The result places UQ well within the top 10% of institutions worldwide.

The QS Graduate Employability Rankings compare universities around the world by considering factors including how connected they are to companies and industries, and how they are supporting students to develop their employability to respond to future industry needs. Data is collected from more than 40,000 employers and this research evaluates nearly 200,000 workplace partnerships.

Why has UQ achieved this result in this ranking?

UQ invests in programs and activities, such as our award-winning Careers service and entrepreneurial Ventures programs, that connect students to industry and enhance their employability. UQ works collaboratively with you to ensure that you are identifying your areas of development and articulating that value to future employers. Industry leaders are aware of the value that UQ can provide you in addition to your degree, and this is why the university has been awarded this reputational ranking.

The QS Graduate Employability Ranking is based on direct feedback from employers – real industry data, not just the opinions of the university and current students. As competition in the industry increases, the reputation of your university becomes even more important.

Man and woman holding up signs quoting employability sayings
UQ has a strong focus on developing confident, highly employable graduates.

Why does this university ranking matter to me?

This ranking should matter to you if you want to enhance your employability during your studies and be career-ready when you graduate.

ShanghaiRanking’s Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), 2020

UQ is ranked 54th in the world and 2nd in Australia according to the ARWU.

Universities are ranked by several indicators of academic or research performance, including:

  • alumni and staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals
  • highly cited researchers
  • papers published in Nature and Science
  • the per capita academic performance of an institution.

There is a significant emphasis placed on the achievements of a university’s alumni. More than 2000 universities are ranked by ARWU every year, with the best 1000 published.

Originally, the purpose of ARWU was to rank top Chinese universities, but it has since attracted a great deal of attention from universities, governments and public media worldwide as an inclusive and transparent international ranking body. The ARWU is one of the 3 most-read university rankings in the world, alongside the QS World University Rankings and the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

Why is this university ranking important to me?

This ranking should matter to you if you want to receive a degree from a globally recognised university that is renowned for its alumni creating positive change around the world.

Times Higher Education World University Rankings (THE WUR), 2021

UQ is 62nd in the world and 4th in Australia in THE 2021 World University Rankings.

In a field of almost 1400 research-intensive institutions, in 2021 UQ is celebrating its move to 62nd in the world and maintaining the fourth position in Australia. In the last 9 years, the university has consistently maintained its place in the Top 70 universities worldwide.

THE WUR judge research-oriented universities across their core missions:

  • teaching
  • research
  • knowledge transfer
  • international outlook.

Scrupulous and transparent, it is the only university ranking to be independently audited by multinational professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Why has UQ achieved this result in this ranking?

UQ’s strongest 5 performance indicators for the 2021 THE World University Rankings were teaching, research, citations, international outlook and industry income.

Why does this ranking matter to me?

This ranking should matter to you if you prioritise teaching and learning experiences in world-class environments and want to graduate from a globally recognised university.

Find out more about UQ’s Times Higher Education Ranking.

Nature Index Top Academic Institutions

UQ is 3rd in Australia in the Nature Index and 102nd in the world.

In 2020, UQ has achieved the third ranking in Australia and has jumped 25 places in recent years to now rank 102nd in the world. UQ ranks 90th in the world in Life Sciences and 34th in the world in Earth and Environmental Science subjects.

The Nature Index is a database that uses several metrics to track contributions, collaborations and impact made by research articles in 82 high-quality published natural science journals. Data in the Nature Index is updated regularly, with the most recent 12 months made available under a Creative Commons licence at natureindex.com.

Why has UQ achieved this result in this ranking?

UQ’s commitment to leading research output and performance in a diverse array of fields has contributed to this outcome. Researchers across our faculties and institutes are striving to improve health, the environment and society across the globe.

Why does this university ranking matter to me?

This ranking should matter to you if you wish to study sciences, life sciences, earth and environmental sciences and biology at a university renowned for its high-quality global research impact.

Find out more about UQ’s ranking in the Nature Index.

Our research into life and earth sciences stands out on the global stage
Our research into life and earth sciences stands out on the global stage.

CWTS Leiden Ranking, 2021

UQ is Australia’s top research institute and 32nd in the world for global research quality in the 2021 CWTS Leiden Ranking. The ranking recognises UQ's research publications in both Life and Earth Sciences, and Social Sciences and Humanities, as the most cited in Australia in 2021.

UQ’s performance is measured by the number of publications the university has within the top 1% of the most-cited research in that specific field.

The 2021 CWTS Leiden Ranking measures the impact of research publications and collaborations of universities around the world and reports on scientific impact and collaboration. This impact is measured against more than a thousand leading institutions worldwide, ensuring the CWTS Leiden Ranking represents the highest echelon of research-focused institutions.

Why has UQ achieved this result in this ranking?

The University’s life and earth sciences research ranks 12th globally, with 2537 publications in recognised journals, including 43 in the top 1% most frequently cited. UQ’s social sciences and humanities research ranked 13th, with 1839 publications in recognised journals, including 13 in the top 1% most frequently cited.

Why does this ranking matter to me?

This ranking should matter to you if you want to study life and earth sciences, and social sciences and humanities, and if you want to attend a university with excellent research capabilities and be taught by world-leading academics.

Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT), 2019

UQ ranks 1st for overall student experience among the prestigious Group of Eight (Go8) universities.

The QILT is a series of national, higher education surveys endorsed by the Australian Government’s Department of Education, Skills and Employment that covers the student life cycle from commencement to employment. QILT provides prospective students with relevant and transparent information about Australian higher education institutions from the perspective of recent students and graduates.

UQ also ranked well above the national average in:

  • teaching quality at 83.6% (national average 81.3%)
  • learning resources at 86.6% (national average 84.2%)
  • full-time employment outcomes at 75.1% (national average 72.3%).

Results are based on the outcomes from the 2018 and 2019 undergraduate student experience surveys.

Two women walking in front of sandstone building
UQ students are the most satisfied with their student experience in the Group of Eight (Go8) universities.

Why has UQ achieved this result in this ranking?

More than 88,000 responses were gathered from undergraduate UQ students. Students rated teaching quality and practices, facilities, skills development and support services highly.

Why is this university ranking important for me?

This ranking should matter to you if you are curious to see how current students enjoy studying at UQ and if overall campus experience and student support services are important to you.

We hope that this provides you with some guidance on how UQ has earned its top global reputation. Be assured that by joining UQ, you will be joining a highly regarded university by several key independent rankings, backed by leading academics across the globe. Get more information about UQ’s study programs, student life and more.

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