The University of Queensland has shown that it leads both Australia and the world, across various subjects, when it scored top spots in two prestigious rankings recently.

The QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017 and Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) world subject rankings both rated UQ in the upper echelons of subject rankings against universities throughout the world.

Areas in which UQ exceeded included biodiversity conservation, environmental sciences, marine and fresh water biology, hospitality, leisure management sport and tourism.

UQ was ranked third in the world in two subject areas and the best in Australia across another two by the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017.

In the QS rankings, UQ placed first nationally for environmental sciences and agriculture and forestry, and shines on the world stage at number three globally in mineral and mining engineering and in sports-related subjects. Globally, UQ is in the world’s top 20 universities across six subject areas in the QS subject rankings.

UQ also led Australia and placed 42nd globally in the CWUR inaugural subject rankings - which examines 26,000 higher education institutions worldwide.

UQ has 13 subjects in the global top 10 in the CWUR rankings – more than any other Australian university. UQ is ranked number one for biodiversity conservation, number two for hospitality, leisure, sport and tourism and number three for marine and freshwater biology.

The University’s performance in the CWUR Global subject rankings was as follows:

World Rank



Biodiversity Conservation


Hospitality, Leisure, Sport & Tourism


Marine & Freshwater Biology


Water Resources




Engineering, Environmental


Environmental Sciences


Sport Sciences


Environmental Studies


Anatomy & Morphology






Tropical Medicine

The Interim Director of the University of Queensland’s Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science (CBCS), Associate Professor James Watson, said UQ had achieved the top position globally in biodiversity conservation for a range of reasons.

“A clear reason why UQ is leading the world in biodiversity rankings is due to the passion of purpose shown by academics and students across the University. These people want to make a real difference in averting the ongoing biodiversity crisis we are witnessing,” he said.

“The conservation science UQ does is often both interdisciplinary, crossing social and economic disciplines. Often our work is hand-in-hand with strategic conservation partners, from governments, donors, non-government organisations and different industry sectors.

“Our science, therefore, is becoming recognised not only as solution oriented, but outcome oriented - we are becoming the ‘go to’ University when it comes to overcoming biodiversity conservation problems.”

The success of subject areas such as biodiversity; environmental and marine sciences is of no surprise given UQ’s focus and research strengths in creating innovation solutions to address climate change.

UQ’s Professor Hugh Possingham, the former Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions and CBCS Director, said that with biodiversity under threat the world was increasingly turning to UQ. 

“Biodiversity loss is accelerating and the world is increasingly looking towards the University of Queensland to deliver the knowledge (ecology, economics, mathematics, social sciences) it needs to slow that loss,” he said. 

“By building multi-disciplinary teams, forming multi-institutional partnerships and tackling major national and global issues, the University of Queensland has been able to deliver real solutions for Australia and the world. This has been across areas such as marine protected zones, tropical forest conservation, conservation-friendly development and threatened species management. 

“These global rankings reflect the quality and impact of our ecological and conservation science.”

Director of the Ecology Centre, Dr Margaret Mayfield, said UQ benefitted from a diverse community of researchers across various disciplines.

“UQ’s excellent results in recent world rankings in ecology, marine biology and biodiversity conservation is clear recognition of the distributed excellence found in UQ’s broad ecology community.

“These rankings highlight the excellent research coming out of our major research centres including CBCS and the Global Change Institute. They also showcase the diverse research represented by members of the Centre for Marine Science and the Ecology Centre, who belong to seven different schools and UQ Centres,” said Dr Mayfield.

”UQ is fairly unique among the world’s top universities in supporting such a large community of ecologists working at the very top of a broad range of subfields. These recent rankings have clearly rewarded this excellence and commitment to ecological research.”

The inaugural Director of the Global Change Institute (GCI) and Professor of Marine Science Professor Hoegh-Guldberg, said UQ students benefitted from access to top facilities and researchers.

“UQ has one of the most diverse and comprehensive undergraduate marine science programs in Australia,” Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said.

“Senior marine scientists contribute to teaching and learning at all levels, and students benefit from UQ's impressive marine infrastructure. This includes a Great Barrier Reef research station – the world-famous Heron Island Research Station – and Moreton Bay Research Station on North Stradbroke Island.”

Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg’s work was documented recently on the Australian Story feature Into Hot Water and the award recognised documentary Chasing Coral. He is now working on the 50 Reefs project, an initiative to slow the decline of the world’s coral reefs, that brings together ocean, climate and marine scientists – and conservation practitioners from around the world – to raise awareness of the increasingly severe impact of climate change on the ocean.