QS ranks Aussie universities among world’s best, but future in doubt

The world’s leading university ranking agency has warned that plans to cut international student numbers could harm the competitiveness of Australia’s tertiary educators.

QS, one of the “big three” global ranking systems, released its 2025 world rankings on Wednesday, with three Australian teachers retaining their top 20 spots.

The University of Melbourne topped the local rankings at 13th worldwide, with the University of Sydney and UNSW at 18th and 19th respectively.

Despite a further eight Australian universities making the top 100, QS chief executive Jessica Turner warned of a planned crackdown on overseas students. 

“These measures have the potential to encourage thousands of prospective students to look beyond Australia,” Turner told The Australian.

“This affects a $48 billion export sector that is heavily dependent on international student fees to fund research and maintain its premier status.

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

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

Earlier this year, the Albanian government announced plans to reduce migration, including curbs on international students.

The bill would give Education Minister Jason Clare the power to set the maximum number of international student enrolments.

This comes after the number of international students in Australia rose from 580,000 before the pandemic to 700,000.

QS also reportedly warned that Australian universities are vulnerable to low staff-to-student ratios, which has reduced performance despite measurement reforms.

The rating agency controversially changed its methodology last year to favor Australian universities over recognized international campuses.

Elsewhere in the rankings are ANU in 30th place, Monash University in 37th place, University of Queensland in 40th place and UTS in 88th place.

On a global scale, MIT in the USA tops the list, followed by Imperial College London and Oxford.

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