UWS climbing the research rankings

UWS Parramatta campus

The Australian newspaper’s ‘Higher Education online’ has tipped the University of Western Sydney to be a university that is on the rise in the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) rankings.

The story, entitled ‘Audit of research volume on the cards’, draws upon a recent analysis of the 2012 ERA results by Professor Emeritus Frank Larkins from the LH Martin Institute and formerly deputy vice chancellor research at the University of Melbourne.

As part of his analysis, Professor Larkins looked at how many times Australian universities received an ERA rating that placed its research in a given field at or above world standard. Professor Larkins also looked at the volume of research  each university put forward for judgement as part of the ERA.

In The Australian, Professor Larkins is quoted as saying:

"The quantity of research output as well as the quality of that performance is important in determining the contribution that a university makes to the national research effort."

Based on Professor Larkins’ recommendations, the Australian Research Council (ARC) may consider revealing the volume, and not just the quality, of research in universities in future rounds of the ERA audits.

For the 2012 review, Professor Larkins points out it was possible for a university to limit its submissions to the ARC – appearing to reduce its assessable fields of research – to ensure that only first class research was able to impact on its ERA ranking. Conversely, the University of Western Sydney was singled out by Larkins for increasing its research footprint while at the same time lifting its overall performance – and not from a low base.

The article in The Australian stated:

In ERA 2012, UWS lifted its number of four digit level assessments by nine to 53, at the same time increasing its overall excellence rating from 41 per cent in 2010 to 68 per cent in 2012.

"So, there's a university clearly on the up," Professor Larkins said.

Professor Andrew Cheetham, interim Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research), was interviewed by The Australian about the University’s recent ERA performance.

In the article, Professor Cheetham explains that the UWS results follow the University’s dedicated decade-long strategy which has been directed at increasing both the quality and quantity of its research.

He also says that UWS has been growing fast by hiring good research performers, as well building up its research institutes, as well as doing other things, such as insisting that academics develop conference papers into solid journal articles.


28 March 2013

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