'Under-investment' blamed as Irish colleges slip in global ratings

Trinity College Dublin is now ranked at 108th globally

Three of Ireland’s eight universities have slipped again in a global ranking system that sees Trinity College Dublin (TCD) continue its descent out of the global top 100.

While TCD has retained its status as Ireland’s strongest university in the latest QS World University Rankings, it is now ranked at 108th globally, down from 104th in 2019 and 88th in 2018.

All Irish universities perform well in the QS rankings “especially when the continued under-investment in the sector is taken into account”, said TCD dean of research Professor Linda Doyle.

There will always be fluctuation in international university rankings but significant improvements will only be achieved with a sustained increase in investment.

TCD is “pleased” with its performances in academic reputation and citations per faculty, Prof Doyle added.

Meanwhile, Dublin City University (DCU) dropped seven places in the latest QS rankings, from 422th to 429th, and the University of Limerick (UL) fell from the 511-520 banding to being ranked between 521 and 530.

University College Dublin (UCD) was placed 185, up from 193, and the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) was placed 259, up from 260.

University College Cork (UCC) was placed 310, up 28 places from 338 in the last QS ranking. Last year, UCC said it was “disappointed” with its drop in the 2019 ranking from 283rd to 338th, which it believed was inconsistent with other assessments.

Only Maynooth University (701-750) and the Dublin Institute of Technology (751-800) remain in the same ranking bands as last year.

Crowded classrooms, reduced research reach, and employer ambivalence are cited by QS as “hindering” Irish university performance, with six universities dropping this year in its faculty-to-student ratio indicator.

NUIG was found to have Ireland’s smallest average class size, ranking 176th for faculty to student ratio.

UCD was also commended by QS for improving its faculty to student ratio.

QS said employer reputation ranks are down at six of Ireland’s eight universities, and citations per faculty fell at seven.

However, despite these declines, QS found that the academic community continues to express positive sentiment about academic standards at Irish universities.

Six universities have improved their academic reputations, and faculties remain among the world’s most international. Six of the country’s universities achieved a top-200 score for international faculty ratio.

A combination of high-student satisfaction, a “Brexit bump”, and the “highly-desirable” income provided by foreign students might contribute to increases in the number of young people studying in Ireland, QS said. However, commitments to increasing teaching capacity are “necessary”, it warns.

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