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Interview: Australia remains among top 10 countries for tertiary education: report

Xinhua, May 5, 2017 Adjust font size:

Australia remains one of the top 10 countries for university education, according to a report released on Friday, which assesses countries, and not individual institutions, as part of its process.

The annual Universitas 21 (U21) report lead author, Prof. Ross Williams of the University of Melbourne told Xinhua on Friday, as the report is a combination of official OECD (Office of Economic Cooperation and Development) and UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) data, it is far more effective in assessing the tertiary education systems in countries.

"The university systems should be wider than the elite research institutions, particularly for developing countries, and in those countries it is just as important that things like technical training, are encouraged," Williams said.

"The motivation is to get away from the distortions of ranking institutions."

There were some countries that have managed to show significant improvement in their rankings over the past six years, with Australia, Croatia and Denmark rising four places, and China edging five places higher.

The rankings are based on assessing 25 different measures across four key areas: resources, output, connectivity and environment, with Australia able to maintain high grades in the most of the key performance indicators.

Prof. Bairbre Redmond, the provost of U21, said "the rankings show further enhancement in the approach to data collection and analysis, allowing countries to benchmark performance over a range of attributes."

The rankings system, now in its sixth year, has Australia placed at number 10 in the world, both before and after results are adjusted to assess educational spending as a proportion of GDP, and Williams said Australia did very well, and remains a premier location for Chinese international students.

"Australia comes in at number ten, and if you think of particularly English speaking countries, it's up there, and certainly Australia has depth in its universities," Williams said.

"There has been significant improvement in Australian output and activity in the last five to six years, and there has been a strengthening in the middle tier universities, as well as the best ones continuing to perform."

The professor said he hopes there will be more globalization of universities, particularly in the field of collaboration, and identified this as an area that Australia could explore even further with China, boosting their already strong ties in the education sector.

Speaking on the overall results, Williams had a message for all countries as to how the best performers were able to achieve their high rankings.

"It is noticeable that in the countries where the higher education sector has shown the largest improvements in output over the six years of our ranking, government policy has been well thought out, congruent with national aims, and implemented on a consistent basis over an extended period of time." Endit