New Zealand's universities have mostly risen in global rankings but the gap between the country's two top-rated institutes has widened as Auckland University increases its lead.
Auckland was the only local university in the top 100 in the latest QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) rankings. It is now ranked 82 in the world, up from 92 last year. The University of Otago slipped 14 places to 173.
All other local universities improved on their ratings this year and all made the QS list. University bosses said the overall rise was largely due to QS methodology changes that better reflected reality.
Auckland's vice-chancellor, Professor Stuart McCutcheon, played down his university's improvement in the ranking.
"The new methodology better recognises the University of Auckland's comprehensive delivery and contribution to knowledge across all five of the broad faculty areas."
Nonetheless, he said the ranking was important to the university's international and domestic marketing.
Canterbury rose 31 places to 211 and Victoria jumped from 275 to 229.
Massey rose nine places to 337, one ahead of Waikato.
Lincoln rose to 373rd and AUT's ranking also went up enough for it to sneak into the top 500 worldwide.
Universities New Zealand said QS had reduced weighting given to medicine and the life sciences citations.
"This is a good result for New Zealand with a lift in rankings for the first time in six years," executive director Chris Whelan said, adding over the previous five years the country's eight universities had dropped by an average of 25 places.
"This is mainly due to the funding per student being far below that received by other international universities."
The rankings were based on academic and employer reputation, faculty-to-student ratio, citations per faculty, and international staff and student proportions.
Meanwhile, the national student union applauded a Government move to increase information for prospective students, but said careers advice needed an overhaul.
Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce announced that from 2017, all universities, wananga and polytechnics would have to publish data about graduates' employment status and earnings. The information would be broken down by specific degrees and diplomas.
New Zealand Union of Students' Associations national president Rory McCourt said it was important that information was put in perspective.
"Future earnings and job placements don't tell you whether a degree is any good," Mr McCourt said. "Academic quality should remain the key focus of Government."