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Australia features 36 universities in the recently released QS World University Rankings 2021. Of these, only six have fallen in rank this year, with the majority of Australian universities making significant improvements.

Australian National University (ANU) is once again the top university in Australia this year, despite dropping two places in the rankings.

The rankings are based on a methodology which assesses each university on its academic and employer reputations, research impact and more.

Read on for a closer look at the country’s top 10 universities, as well as a brief overview of how the other 26 performed.

QS World University Rankings 2021 – Top 10 Universities in Australia
Aus. RankGlobal RankUniversity
1  31=Australian National University (ANU)
2  40 University of Sydney
3  41 University of Melbourne
4  44 University of New South Wales (UNSW)
5  46 University of Queensland (UQ)
6  55 Monash University
7  92 University of Western Australia (UWA)
8  106=University of Adelaide
9  133=University of Technology Sydney (UTS)
10  196 University of Wollongong

10. University of Wollongong

Entering the Australian top 10 this year is the University of Wollongong, placing 196th in the world after rising an incredible 16 places. The university performs well for the citations per faculty indicator, ranking 75th in the world – a reflection of its high quality of research output 

The University of Wollongong was originally founded in 1975 on the donations of local people. Since then the university has acted in partnership with its communities to make an impact in the Illawarra region and to address society’s economic, environmental, social and medical challenges.

9. University of Technology Sydney (UTS)

In joint 133rd, the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) has risen seven places in the world university rankings this year. UTS scores exceptionally well in the citations per faculty, international students and employer reputation indicators, ranking 67th, 78th and 85th respectively. 

Established in 1988, UTS is one of the youngest top Australian universities. Their aim is to advance knowledge through research-inspired teaching, using their partnerships with industry, professions and the community.

8. University of Adelaide

Established in 1874, the University of Adelaide is Australia’s third oldest university and places joint 106th place this year in the world university rankings.

The University of Adelaide ranks 44th worldwide for the international students indicator and more than 7,860 of the university’s 21,142 students are international students from over 100 different countries.

7. University of Western Australia (UWA)

The first of seven Australian universities to feature in the top 100 in the world, the University of Western Australia falls five places in the rankings to 92nd in 2021.

UWA outscores all of the Australian universities above it for both the proportion of international faculty members and the number of citations per faculty member (a measure of research output).

6. Monash University

Monash University climbs three places this year, to steal 55th position. It ranks among the world’s 50 best universities for its academic reputation indicator (43rd) and earns a perfect score in the international students indicator.

Monash University is mainly based in Melbourne but has five campuses in the state of Victoria and two overseas, in Malaysia and South Africa.

5. University of Queensland (UQ)

Entering the five top universities in Australia now, we start with the University of Queensland (UQ), which rises one place this year to claim 46th.

The university’s alumni include two Nobel laureates, Peter C. Dogerty and John Harsanyi; Academy Award winner, Geoffrey Rush; and leaders in government, law, science, public service and the arts. Researchers from UQ have been responsible for a number of recent innovations, such as the cervical cancer vaccine.

4. University of New South Wales (UNSW)

In 44th place is the University of New South Wales (UNSW). Despite falling one place in this year’s world university ranking, the University of New South Wales remains in fourth place in Australia.

UNSW is a founding member of the Group of Eight, a coalition of Australian research-intensive universities. The university places in the top 50 for all but one of the indicators, performing less well in the faculty student ratio indicator.

3. University of Melbourne

The University of Melbourne drops three places in the world rankings this year, placing 41st in the world. A member of the Group of Eight, it boasts the title of being the highest ranked Australian university for both academic and employer reputation and ranks in the world top 30 for both.

The university also performs well in the international students indicator and international students make up 42 percent of its student population, coming from more than 130 countries.

2. University of Sydney

After rising two places this year, the University of Sydney is Australia’s second-best university, ranking 40thworldwide. It earns perfect scores in the international faculty and international students indicators.

Founded in 1850, the University of Sydney was Australia’s first university and is a member of the Group of Eight.

1. Australian National University (ANU)

Australian National University (ANU) is the top Australian university for another year running, scoring well across almost all of the indicators, including the academic reputation, international faculty, international students and citations per faculty ratio indicators, which all rank within the top 50 worldwide.

The main ANU campus is located in Acton, Canberra, but there are also campuses in New South Wales and the Northern Territory.

The remaining 26 Australian universities are ranked as follows.

QS World University Rankings 2021 – Top Universities in Australia
Aus. RankGlobal RankUniversity
11  =197University of Newcastle, Australia (UON)
12  =214Macquarie University
=13  =217Curtin University
=13  =217Queensland University of Technology (QUT)
15  =223RMIT University
16  =275Deakin University
17  =295University of Southern Australia (UniSA)
18  =303Griffith University
19  =308University of Tasmania
20  372 Swinburne University of Technology
21  =398La Trobe University
22  =414Bond University
23  =423Flinders University
24  =456University of Canberra
25  =462James Cook University (JCU)
26  =474Western Sydney University
27551-560Victoria University
28571-580Murdoch University
29591-600Central Queensland University
30651-700Edith Cowan University (ECU)
=31701-750Charles Darwin University
=31701-750University of Southern Queensland
33751-800Southern Cross University
=34  801-1000Australian Catholic University
=34  801-1000Charles Sturt University
=34  801-1000University of New England Australia

This article was originally published in June 2020 . It was last updated in November 2022

Written by

Chloe Lane

As Content Editor for TopUniversities.com and TopMBA.com, Chloe creates and publishes a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. Chloe has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Reading and grew up in Leicestershire, UK.