New stats revealed in the QS World University Rankings by Subject put UOW in the top 200 of nine different fields: Civil and Structural Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Psychology, Chemistry, Geography, Materials Science, Education and Politics and International Studies.

But these rankings aren’t as clean as they appear.

The Current team checked out the facts behind the rankings, the secrets that gave engineering their success and the subjects that don’t get a look in (even though they’ve seen similar success).

UOW students lose out in one per cent goal

The University of Wollongong is edging closer to sitting in the top one per cent of universities internationally after placing in the top 200 of the QS World University Rankings by subject.

But according to Sam Dixon, President of the Wollongong University Students Association, this goal is being chased at the expense of undergraduate students.

“Wollongong University moving to the top one percent is obviously going to attract students of a higher quality… but it also means regional students will often be left out,” believes Ms Dixon.

Improving the prestige of UOW will see high achieving students from Sydney taking UOW placements, she says.

The recent QS World University Rankings by Subject saw UOW excel in nine key areas, with four fields – Engineering (Civil and Structural), Geography, Materials Sciences and Education – placed within the top 100 spots.

The rankings are based on responses from 70,000 academic surveys, 68 million research citations through the Scopus database and a measure of research impact and productivity.

Of more than 2800 universities initially involved, nearly 8400 continued to a manual assessment process.

“[The QS Rankings] show that UOW is performing well across a range of disciplines, and allows assessment of which ways the University must develop to reach that [one per cent] objective, but it still has a significant way to go,” says Aden Steinke, Director of the Planning, Marketing and Communications Division.

“UOW is embedded in and committed to its region… and its network of campuses,” he says. “As the University develops, local students will benefit from the rising reputation attached to their degrees and the region will benefit as we attract more partners.”

WUSA President Sam Dixon remains concerned that focusing on postgraduate research will impact the quality of education for undergraduate students.

“We know that research citation is a huge area that goes towards the rankings, so what generally happens is that you see a decrease in the level of education going to students, but an increase in the amount and quality of research that’s being done.”

Mr Steinke states that the University is not altering its research behavior to perform well in competitive worldwide rankings.

“The one percent goal is an accessible shorthand for improving the performance of the University of Wollongong,” he says. “The University is already a world-class institution in both teaching and research… however, it is a globally competitive sector where there is continuous improvement.”

QS will release its overall university rankings in September. UOW was ranked 264th in 2012.

Creative Arts play ‘JOAN’ not counted

Creative Arts aren’t considered in the QS ranking scheme however the faculty is also producing noteworthy work. ‘JOAN’ is a play by UOW students adapted from George Bernard Shaw’s ‘Saint Joan’, and showcases the talented work the QS isn’t recognising.

Words: AMELIA LINDSAY

Pictures: LORIN REID

Video: JULIAN KEITH

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