The University of Newcastle, Australia

UON on the rise

Thursday, 25 September 2014

This week, we celebrate that UON has been named number one university in Australia in the 2014 QS 'Top 50 Under 50'.

2014 QS Top 50 Under 50UON also ranked in the top 20 universities in the world under 50 years of age, after rising 12 positions to be ranked at number 19 worldwide. 2014 marks our final year as a "university under 50" – and it is in the "UON style" to go out on top!

Rankings, of course, come and go – perhaps more interesting is the way that they chart how our communities perceive the quality of our education and research activities over time. One of the first things that I do when presented with a set of result is to "go to the numbers" (the habits of more than 30 years as a researcher and data junkie are hard to break!) – and in this case I'm delighted by what the underlying numbers are telling us about the University's upward trajectory.

The key contributors to our rise in the QS Top 50 under 50 rankings were a 16 per cent increase in 'academic reputation' and a 17 per cent rise in UON's ' employer reputation' ranking. This means that, when academics and employers across the world were asked which universities were performing well in their areas, more of them nominated our University than in previous years. This reflects the significant amount of work undertaken by our staff across the institution to ensure our achievements have been brought to the attention of UON's academic peers and the organisations who work with our graduates or researchers across the world.

A bright, new future

As colleagues will be aware, the Australian Government has proposed a major higher education reform package (currently being considered by a Senate Inquiry), which may see a cut to Commonwealth funding  to Universities and Australian students therefore paying  more for their degrees. In this context, it is very important that we can be clear to our prospective students about our value proposition and for students to know that their University is indeed a world class institution – not only in the academic context but also in the eyes of future employers.

Our 50th birthday is rapidly approaching.  Next year's celebrations will not only give us an opportunity to "pop the champagne cork" but also to work through the type of institution we want UON to be for the next decade. You will be hearing more in the coming weeks through our early consultations about the 'NeW Futures 2016-2025 Strategic Plan', which we hope to launch in mid-2015.

One  of the great strengths of "young" universities is their capacity to challenge traditional models and to find new ways of thinking and working – and even to be  bit controversial  or a tad  "bolshie" at times!  I'm pretty confident that UON will retain that challenger identity as we leave the ranks of the young universities and take our place on the world stage - I look forward to working with you as we shape those "new futures" for a great institution.

Best wishes


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