Home | News | QS university rankings retain Melbourne, USyd and UNSW in top 20
The University of Melbourne is now 13th in the world in the QS World University Rankings. Picture: NCA Newswire/David Geraghty

QS university rankings retain Melbourne, USyd and UNSW in top 20

Global rankings agency QS has warned the Albanese government’s push to cut international student numbers could hurt ­Australian universities’ competitiveness, even as it reveals its latest list showing nine Australian ­institutions holding their place in the world’s top 100.

QS, one of the “big three” global ranking systems, said three universities – Melbourne, Sydney and UNSW – had retained their place in the world’s top 20 in the 2025 world university rankings released on Wednesday.

Melbourne has moved one place higher to 13th in the world, Sydney has also moved up a place to 18th, and UNSW has remained steady at 19th.

Other universities in the top 100 are the Australian National University at 30th, Monash at 37th, Queensland at 40th, Western Australia at 77th, Adelaide at 82nd and UTS at 88th.

QS ranks Australian universities far more generously than its two competitor global rankings agencies, Times Higher Education and ShanghaiRanking.

QS caused a stir last year when it controversially changed its methodology in a way that favoured Australia, propelling Melbourne, Sydney and UNSW into the top 20, ahead of renowned international institutions such as Columbia, the University of California Los Angeles, King’s College London and the University of Tokyo.

However, QS chief executive Jessica Turner warned that the Albanese government’s tough clampdown on international student visas in response to migration concerns was putting at risk the future competitiveness of Australian universities in the global rankings.

“These measures may prompt several thousands of prospective students to look beyond Australia, impacting a $48bn export ­sector that relies heavily on international student fees to fund ­research and maintain its cutting-edge status,” Ms Turner said.

“It is important to balance regulatory measures with the need to support the international education sector and the opportunities it provides.

"We hope that a thoughtful approach will be taken to avoid unintended negative impacts on students, universities, and Australia’s global competitiveness.”

QS also warned Australian universities were vulnerable on some of the inputs that contributed to the QS ranking.

It said that the low staff-to-student ­ratios in Australian universities dragged down their performance. Not a single Australian university was in the top 300 universities in the world on this measure of teaching capacity. 

It also said that 82 per cent of Australian universities recorded a lower year-on-year score in the QS employment outcomes indicator.

Universities to dramatically improve their position in this year’s QS world rankings include: RMIT, up 17 places to 123rd; Deakin, up 36 places to 197th; La Trobe, up 25 places to 217th; Flinders, up 44 places to 336th; CQUniversity, up 95 places to 495th; and Southern Cross University, up 80 places to 576th.

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