The box plot below illustrates the improving performance of Australian universities over the past five editions of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, particularly when it comes to research quantity and quality and international collaboration.
The boxes on the left-hand side show the distribution of 2016 metric scores for all ranked Australian institutions (with the median shown by the middle line); the right-hand boxes give the 2020 scores.
They reveal that universities in the Antipodean nation have made great strides on the publications per staff metric, with the median score rising by about 20 points and most institutions now receiving a score of over 80 on this measure. The share of internationally co-authored research at the bulk of universities in Australia (shown by the boxes, which represent the middle half of universities in each distribution) is also on the rise.
These improvements on research productivity and collaboration may be related to boosts in universities’ level of institutional income and research income per staff as well as increases in the number of researchers (as measured by the metric on PhDs awarded per staff), which are also evident from the chart.
The advances also appear to be having a knock-on effect on research quality, as shown by the box on citation impact.
However, Australian universities have slightly lower teaching and research reputations, on average, than they did in 2016 – despite a significant improvement on these measures over the past year – reflecting a broader trend of English-speaking and European nations declining in prestige as those in Asia gain in esteem.