News 1/5 – Uni Rankings. Dr Bogan. Eels.

May 1st 2012 at 8:42am, By Dave Guerin

Check out Stuart McCutcheon’s piece on uni rankings and let me know what you think. Do we need higher ranked unis?

Policy, Management & People

  1. Uni Rankings Stuart McCutcheon had an op-ed on declining university rankings yesterday, suggesting more money or rationing to fix it.
  2. Closing the Gap NZUSA proposes closing the gap with Australia by improving NZ’s student support.
  3. Extras: power cut at Otago Uni/Poly (update); more on students’ earning projections.

Research & Innovation

  1. Dr Bogan Waikato’s Dave Snell made the news a few years back when he got a PhD scholarship to study bogans – now he’s graduated (One News).
  2. Extras: Otago Uni health research; Christchurch TEIs helping local innovation; Mike Williams’ ANZAC opera at Waikato; Auckland running PharamaZen trial; hospital productivity research by Victoria, Auckland and Otago Unis.

Public Issues

  1. US-NZ Victoria’s Robert Ayson makes Time magazine blog on US soldiers in NZ.
  2. Eels Massey’s Mike Joy wants fishing of long-finned eels banned (RNZ).
  3. Marijuana Massey Chris Wilkins on marijuana arrest trends.
  4. Bad Stats Auckland’s Annette Beautrais tries to link our “low” drinking age with youth suicide, even though youth suicides have gone down from 1995 to 2009, when the drinking age dropped from 20 in 1999 (Kiwiblog, Stats Chat).
  5. Banks Otago Uni’s Andrew Geddis on John Banks’ donation issues.
  6. Extras: Otago Uni’s Prof Grant Gillett on euthanasia; Massey found the dolphin died of natural causes; Waikato’s Pou Temara on te reo Maori in schools.


  1. Extras: Unitec gay comedian in Comedy Festival; fair trade at Victoria; more on bar complaint from last week; EIT-SIT film student; Auckland student exploring the Amazon.


  1. World Record Tim Shadbolt broke the world record for the longest interview, while at SIT.
  2. Maori Business Auckland offers its Maori business awards.
  3. Biology Olympiad Massey and Waikato are helping top school students prepare for an international biology event.
  4. Extras: Lincoln’s Prof Brian Jordan gets Swedish honorary doctorate; Whitecliffe sponsoring fashion awards; HSI is involved with Restaurant Assn group training expansion; Auckland authors at writers and readers festival; Waikato’s Kingitanga Day prep; TWOA’s Kura Te Ua off to perform in Solomon Islands.

Teaching & Learning

  1. Extras: Lincoln AgroEcology course growth; indigenous scholars at Massey; copy of Reviewit poster from Ako Aotearoa event.

5 Responses to News 1/5 – Uni Rankings. Dr Bogan. Eels.



May 1st, 2012 at 10:27 am

Stuart’s article is interesting for the issues it raises.

The rankings systems vary and include different emphases on science and tech, size, scope of the institution, etc. It would be a very interesting exercise to work through what Auckland would have to do to maximize its ranking with its current resources. I wonder if it has done that work and how different the university would look.

That NZ institutions are ranked lower is not a surprise; what is a surprise is that there are not more BRIC country institutions in the top 50 (I count Hong Kong as China for this purpose which does well but less well than I expected).

The countries Stuart cites are all much wealthier than NZ. They are a third or more richer per capita. Australia is over 40% richer p/cap.

Assuming wealth explains everything I calculated Auckland University is $169m (18%) underfunded compared to UNSW (I didn’t bother doing a currency conversion so add a few percent for that).

Someone in NZ must have done some serious work on this issue. Could someone provide a link to that work?


Dave Guerin

May 1st, 2012 at 10:37 am

The MOE did some work back in 2010 on this, looking at rankings by share of the world’s economy (we came first!).


Jim Doyle

May 1st, 2012 at 11:00 am

If we reduced the number of universities in NZ to one and then reduced the number of students in that university to say 10,000 and put all of the money we currently put into the entire NZ system, it’s a pretty good bet the ranking of that university would rise significantly in time.

University rankings are elisits tosh.



May 1st, 2012 at 12:47 pm

The rankings broadly speaking are OK in that they represent their methodology well, don’t they? I guess it’s like all ranking schemes. They get used to describe things they’re not designed to describe – PBRF rankings for example.

Some people might perceive that Stuart is making the unusual argument that universities should get more money and the even more unusual argument that a smaller number of universities, quite possibly including Auckland, should get the most.

Amongst the many things I think about when these kinds of discussions are put up is that there appears to be no relationship between numbers of students put through NZ tertiary education/ university spending and economic performance. Of course there are other things a well-educated society should deliver, but one them is that we should be richer because we’re smarter.



May 4th, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Closing the Gap – It is of interest to note that NZUSA conveniently overlooked the fact that all Australian Fee Help loans attract an immediate and upfront government administration fee of 20% of the loan.

Something the NZ government should perhaps look at?

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