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  • rmacculloch

Is Otago University's advertising a true and faithful representation of where that University is ranked globally?

Take a look at Otago's website - it hits you, straight up, with a huge advertising banner:

"Top 1%", eh. Look at the actual QS world rankings which Otago formally states its ranking is based upon. QS say, "The 20th edition of the QS World University Rankings features 1,500 institutions across 104 locations & is the only ranking of its kind to emphasize employability & sustainability". They rank 1,498 Universities to be precise. QS state that Otago is ranked no. 206 out of those 1,498 institutions, putting it between 10% & 15% in the world ranking, not the "top 1%". Otago's world ranking has fallen these past 10 years, from about 125 in 2012 - down to 206 in 2024:

Otago University World QS Ranking

According to QS, Otago's Medical School, for which it has traditionally been best known, and is where my Dad studied, is now ranked at 144, not even close to being top 1%. It used to be one of the world's highest ranked Schools. The Times Higher Education also ranks universities - it places Otago at between 301st and 350th out of 2,671 - that's in the top 10-15%, similar to the QS rankings. Otago is not in the top 1% according to any ranking I can find. Can the new Vice Chancellor of Otago, Grant Robertson, explain what Otago is reporting, before I file complaints with Advertising Standards Authority & Education Minister? Is its advertising to young people fair and accurate, or misleading?

Why is this ranking even given such prominence given the severe criticism these surveys have received? "QS do not reveal the response rates for the survey, but statements from QS indicate they are very low (2–8 %), which would make the results highly unreliable". Simon Marginson, a Professor of Higher Education at the University of Melbourne and member of the Times Higher Education editorial board, said in 2012, "I will not discuss the QS ranking because the methodology is not sufficiently robust to provide data valid as social science".



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