Melbourne University has been ranked as the 57th-best university globally, securing its position as the top university in Australia. 

Up one place from last year, Melbourne University is among several local schools in rankings by the Centre for World University Rankings (CWUR). The table places Sydney University among the world's top 100, soaring to 92nd position, an advancement of six places.

Nearly three-quarters of the 39 Australian universities on the global list of 2,000 institutions improved their standings compared to the previous year. 

The University of New South Wales (UNSW) made a leap of five spots, securing the 104th position, surpassing the University of Queensland, which stands at 105. Monash University ranked fifth among Australian institutions and an impressive 121st globally.

Nadim Mahassen, CWUR president, attributes the upward trajectory of most Australian universities to an improvement in research performance. 

According to Dr Mahassen, this positive trend underscores the importance of funding to bolster Australia's higher education system and enhance its global competitiveness.

While many Australian universities have made significant strides, there are concerns regarding the financial sustainability of research efforts. 

The Australian National University, a prominent member of the prestigious Group of Eight universities, experienced a setback, dropping four places to 128 compared to the previous year.

Most schools have a critical need for ongoing funding to attract top-tier academics and students, expand teaching capacity alongside increasing enrollment numbers, and ensure a steady growth in tertiary education expenditure.

However, there is growing apprehension among universities that calls to stabilise research funding and reduce dependence on international student fees have fallen on deaf ears. 

Science Minister Ed Husic has expressed his desire to see research and development funding increase to 3 percent of GDP by 2030. Unfortunately, the recent budget did not outline concrete steps to realise this vision.

Currently, Australia's research expenditure stands at just 1.8 percent of GDP, lagging behind the OECD average of 2.68 percent and even falling below the 2008 figure of 2.25 percent. 

Catriona Jackson, chief executive of Universities Australia, warns that government spending on research has plummeted to its lowest share of GDP at 0.49 percent in the 2022-23 fiscal year.

The heavy reliance on international student fees to fund research efforts sets Australia apart from other countries with sophisticated higher education systems. 

While this reliance is concerning, Australian universities continue to rise in most international ranking league tables, demonstrating their unwavering commitment to excellence.

This year's rankings revealed an 80 percent decline in the positions of US universities compared to the previous year. 

Similarly, institutions in France, Germany, and Japan experienced declines. In contrast, well-resourced Chinese institutions continue their ascent on the global ladder.

For 12 consecutive years, Harvard University has held the title of the best university in the world, followed closely by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford. Oxford and Cambridge came fourth and fifth respectively.