Statistics rises up the ranks

23 March 2018

The University of Auckland has been ranked in the top 50 worldwide for Statistics and Operations Research, according to the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2018.

The rankings were published in March, and placed the University of Auckland at 43, up six places on last year.

“The rise in QS rankings is a tribute to the excellence of our teaching and research,” says head of the university’s Department of Statistics, Professor James Curran.   

The rankings are issued annually by UK-based education marketing company Quacquarelli Symonds, and are based on peer review, citations per staff member, the ratio of staff to students, recruiter review, and the proportion of international staff and international students.

The University of Auckland has 18 subjects in the top 50. The subject category of Statistics and Operations Research is largely contributed to by the university’s Department of Statistics and School of Engineering Science.

James and Associate Professor Ilze Ziedins, who was Head of Department for three years until February, paid tribute to the excellent work of the School of Engineering Science, which works in collaboration with Statistics to teach Operations Research.

Visibility in the competitive education marketplace has a lot to do with rankings, and the University of Auckland’s positive reputation for teaching statistics continues to rise.

Ilze says this is partly down to the Stage I statistics course, which underpins a diverse offering in the field.

“We are surrounded by data in our everyday lives and this means students appreciate and use statistics more and more,” Ilze says. “Add to that the increased importance of statistics and data science in business and industry, and there’s huge demand from employers for graduates with those skills.”

More than 100 students every year graduate in Statistics, and they are delivered to employers up-to-date and ready to go.

“That work-readiness is one of the reasons for our success,” says Ilze. “We stay very current in delivery and content of our courses.”

For example, the relatively new BSc in Data Science run in conjunction with the Department of Computer Science has been very popular, and will grow over the next few years.

James says that the worldwide success of the computer programming language R, founded by Ross Ihaka and Robert Gentleman in the mid-1990s, has also played an important role in focusing attention on the university and the Department of Statistics’ people and its research.

He paid tribute to the pair: “The success of R is due to the vision of its co-founders, Ross and Robert, and the fact that R is used worldwide is playing an important role in our department’s increasing visibility.”


Head of department, Professor James Curran
Head of department, Professor James Curran
Associate Professor Ilze Ziedins, Department of Statistics
Associate Professor Ilze Ziedins