POOR government funding and little interaction with industry have pushed Australia's universities down an international list of top-performing higher education systems.
The latest Universitas 21 rankings, released on Thursday, showed Australia dropped from ninth to 10th on the ranking of 50 countries' university systems.
While the survey used to rank the performance of individual universities, this fourth report focused on entire higher education systems in each country.
Australia came in sixth for operating environment, seventh for output, 13th for connectivity and 18th for resources. Those four areas were made up of more than 20 individual measures.
Australia trailed on one specific measure - government expenditure - at 44th of the 50 nations assessed.
Australia's university system was again outranked by the United States, in the top spot, followed by Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Canada, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and Singapore.
The ranks showed the smaller European nations with higher tax regimes performed better than many other nations.
It also showed higher education systems at key Australian trading partners and sources of international students to Australia, China and India, were ranked 34th and 50, respectively.
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