Funding cuts blamed for poor university rankings

Funding cuts blamed for poor university rankings

Under-investment in third-level education is beginning to bite, universities have warned, as Ireland’s top institute tumbled 44 places in the global rankings.

The latest round of the Times Higher Education (THE) World University rankings sees a significant decline in the ranking of Trinity College Dublin (TCD), from 120th to 164th. Should this trend continue next year, Ireland will no longer have an institute among the international table of top-ranked universities.

Just Maynooth University and NUI Galway saw increases in their rankings for 2020, with Dublin City University also witnessing a decline in its previous position.

UCC and the other Irish universities maintained their 2019 rankings.

The 2020 result, while disappointing, follows a funding pattern that began following the financial cri sis, according to TCD dean of research, Linda Doyle.

“Looking at the scores behind the rank, our performance is steady. However, this is not good enough in a world that sees many of our global competitors improve their scores through focused and sustained investment by their governments.

“There is no denying that continuing underinvestment in university education and research in Ireland is catching up with us,” Prof Doyle added.

"It is essential that we remain highly ranked to ensure that Ireland remains an attractive centre for global investment and a country renowned for the talent of its people.”

Yet again topped by British university Oxford, this year saw Asia significantly increase the number of universities it has among the World University top 200, from two last year to 24 in 2020.

While the international ranking system is not perfect, The underwhelming performance of Irish colleges reflects a decade-long reduction in third-level funding, according to Irish Universities Association director general chief Jim Miley.

Universities have worked exceptionally hard to plug the gaps left by the reduction in State funding, but the competition is not standing still.

"Our competitor countries are investing even more in their talent and all the while we fall further behind. It is time for politicians of all political persuasions to stop saying what they don’t want and to commit to solutions.”

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