Research ranking improvements and appointments

A message from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Wayne McKenna:

Our trajectory in world rankings is attributed in large part to the excellence of our researchers.

I am delighted to report ACU’s exceptional improvement in a number of recent world university rankings.

ACU has been ranked for seven subjects in the 2020 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) Subject Rankings. Our 2020 performance is exceptional in that our overall position improved in every subject area in which we have been ranked previously. 

  • In nursing we ranked 18th in the world, up from 32nd last year. We now rank sixth in Australia for nursing, and we are the second highest-ranked Catholic university in the world.
  • In education we ranked 56th in the world, up from 63rd. We are the third-ranked Australian university and also the third-ranked Catholic institution.
  • In psychology we ranked 177th in the world, the first year that ACU appeared in the 151-200 bracket. We are one of the top six Catholic institutions in the world and the seventh-ranked Australian university.
  • In hospitality and tourism management we ranked 200th in the world, the first time we appeared in the 151-200 bracket for this subject.

We improved our previous rankings in public health, and clinical medicine, and were ranked in human biological sciences for the first time. An eighth subject area – sport science – is not assessed each year, but in a Special Focus Institute Ranking in 2018 we ranked 26th.

In the 2020 ARWU Institution Ranking we again appear in the 501-600 band, improving on our previous position by climbing to 524th in the world. Unlike the individual subject rankings, however, the institutional ranking for ARWU uses a number of metrics that do not align with ACU’s strategic priority areas.

ACU has also appeared in the prestigious CWTS Leiden rankings for the first time in 2020, appearing in the global top 100 across a number of lists.

We are the top-ranked Australian university when ranked by the proportion of published papers in the 5% most frequently cited in both social sciences and the humanities, and biomedical and health sciences – an outstanding result for our debut appearance. We are also the top-ranked Australian institution in these same subject areas when ranked by the proportion of our publications co-authored with other institutions.

This trajectory in world rankings is attributed in large part to the excellence of our researchers. In recent months, we are proud to announce new appointments that contribute to our expanding profiles in politics and literature, all of whom join the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences.

Professor Paul Kenny

Professor Paul Kenny is a political scientist of comparative politics, political economy and economic history, with a particular focus on populism, corruption and identity politics in Southeast Asia. His first monograph, Populism and Patronage: Why Populists Win Elections in India, Asia and Beyond (OUP). was awarded the American Political Science Association’s 2018 Robert A. Dahl Award and his second monograph, Populism in Southeast Asia, was published in 2019 by Cambridge University Press. He joins ACU from Australian National University.

Dr Shmuel Nili

Dr Shmuel Nili received his doctorate in political science from Yale. His first monograph The People’s Duty (2019) was published by Cambridge University Press and his second, Integrity, personal and political, is forthcoming with Oxford University Press.

Professor Peter Holbrook

Professor Peter Holbrook is currently Professor of Shakespeare and English Renaissance Literature, University of Queensland, Australia, and Director, UQ Node of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions (Europe 1100-1800).

Recruitment is also currently underway for the Gender and Women’s History Research Centre.

I congratulate all our researchers whose outstanding achievements have been demonstrated by our international rankings and extend a warm welcome to our new appointments.

Professor Wayne McKenna
Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research
Australian Catholic University


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