Australia is one of a number of nations keen to attract students from overseas and now it has more universities among the best in the world, according to newly published rankings.

Some 37 Australian universities are included in the 2018 edition of the QS World University Rankings, two more than last year, with seven in the top 100 and a further 10 are in the top 300.


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America's Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT, topped the global list followed by Stanford and Harvard. Cambridge, Oxford and University College London also made the top 10.

The rankings show that many Australian universities have improved their positions. The Australian National University, for example, has gone up two places to number 20. The ANU is based in Canberra and is the only university to be created by the country's Parliament and its alumni include two Prime Ministers.

The second oldest university in Australia, the University of Melbourne which was founded in 1853, is ranked joint 41st this year alongside South Korea's KAIST. The university has around 47,000 students, including more than 12,000 international students, and has been associated with nine Nobel Prize winners, the most of any Australian university.

At 45 and up four places is the University of New South Wales in Sydney which was established in 1949 and has produced more millionaires than any other Australian university. Aiming to be Australia's global university by 2025, UNSW Sydney is currently partnered with over 200 universities around the world.

Australia's tertiary education sector is doing particularly well across all measures used in the rankings, according to Ben Sowter, head of research at the QS World University Rankings which is based in London.

QS surveyed more than 75,000 academics and more than 40,000 employers, to assess university reputation across teaching, research, internalisation and employability outcomes. 'Simply put, Australia's had a great year in terms of our metrics,' Sowter said.

But industry organisation Universities Australia is concerned that funding cuts announced by the Australian Government will have an impact on the nation's rankings going forward and damage the international reputation of Australia's education system.

According to Belinda Robinson, chief executive of Universities Australia, the sector is facing a cut in revenue of about $1 billion under a Government efficiency drive and some $3.9 billion has been stripped out of the system over the past six years.

'We know we've also got one of the most efficient systems in the world, there's another series of rankings that tell us that, but if we're not careful we will risk reaching a tipping point beyond which it will be very difficult to recover,' she said.

But she added that the rankings should be seen as a great achievement. 'What we know from this report is that Australia has made better progress and more impressive progress than any other nation of a similar size,' she added.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the QS ranking is a great endorsement of the quality of Australian education. 'It helps to drive the number of people that come to Australia and helps to sustain a $21 to $22 billion export industry that is incredibly important,' he said.

The University of Queensland is Australia's fourth highest ranked university at joint 47, followed by the University of Sydney at 50, Monash University at 60, the University of Western Australia at joint 93 and in the top 100 for the first time.

The University of Adelaide is ranked 109, the University of Technology in Sydney at 176, up 17 places, and the University of Newcastle making up the highest 10 in the nation places at 224, a rise of 21 places.