New Zealand universities have again scored high spots in the annual QS World University Subject Rankings, with the University of Auckland leading the pack.

Kiwi unis placed in the top 50 institutions for 22 subjects and in the top 100 in 39 subjects, an overall decline from last year.

Collectively, New Zealand's eight universities improved in 24 subject rankings and dropped in 55 subjects.

Universities New Zealand executive director Chris Whelan said despite the drop, there was still a lot to be proud of.


"These are outstanding results for a country with eight universities being evaluated against 4430 other universities from around the world," Whelan said.

"They reflect the high regard in which our universities' teaching and research is held across a wide range of disciplines."

The overall decline was mainly a consequence of low institutional funding levels by international standards, he said.

"New Zealand spends US$15,400 [$22,293] per student, relative to an OECD average of US$16,200. Other countries are recognising the importance of higher education, research and innovation to drive prosperity and enhance well-being."

Because of this, keeping pace with other countries got harder every year.

"If we want the universities to continue to rise in the subject rankings, and so give our students even better educational experiences, the nation will have to be prepared to invest in them."

Now in its sixth year, the annual QS World University Rankings by Subject compares academic reputation, employer reputation, research citations and impact.

Rankings played a big part in who students, researchers, countries and research institutes chose to work and study with, Whelan said.

"It's not about institutional vanity, it's about their international reputation."

The University of Auckland was rated the best in New Zealand in each of the faculty rankings, including 25th in the world in Arts and Humanities.

Its business school was once again ranked the best university in New Zealand to study accounting and finance, commercial law, business and management, property, economics and information systems.

"We are pleased to see our status as New Zealand's leading business school reinforced in these subject rankings," said the business school's dean, Professor Jayne Godfrey.

"The rankings are underpinned by the talent and hard work of our staff and our students."

The university's arts faculty also did well, scooping best in New Zealand for 11 out of 12 subjects.

The QS Rankings by Subject results were based on survey responses from more than 305,000 academics and 194,000 employers.

Key results:

The University of Auckland

•ranked 16th in archaeology, 20th in education, 29th in English language and literature, 33rd in psychology, 34th in geography and in anatomy and physiology, 36th in law, 37th in accounting and finance, 38th in civil and structural engineering, 42nd in modern languages, 44th in anthropology, 45th in social policy and administration, 49th in statistics and operational research, and 50th in linguistics, nursing, and sociology.

•ranked 51-100 in a further 18 subjects.

Auckland University of Technology (AUT)
•placed 45th in hospitality and leisure management.
•ranked 51-100 in art and design, and in sports-related subjects, and 101-150 in accounting and finance.

University of Waikato
•placed 24th in hospitality and leisure management.
•ranked 51-100 for education, and 101-150 for accounting and finance, and geography.

Massey University
•placed 23rd in veterinary science, and 27th in agriculture and forestry.
•ranked 51-100 in art and design, nursing, and development studies.

Victoria University of Wellington
•placed 46th in law.
•ranked in the top 51-100 in English language and literature, performing arts, psychology, geography, accounting and finance, and education.

University of Canterbury
•ranked in the top 51-100 in civil and structural engineering, and education.
•also ranked 101-150 in English language and literature, geography, accounting and finance, law and sociology.

Lincoln University
•39th in agriculture and forestry, and 48th in hospitality and leisure management.

University of Otago
•7th in the world in sports-related subjects, 24th in anatomy and physiology, 29th in dentistry, 40th in archaeology, and 44th in development studies.
•ranked in the top 51-100 in history, performing arts, medicine, psychology, geography, anthropology, and law.