From the best restaurant to the best university, we are continuously engulfed with never-ending reports on rankings. Losing a Michelin star or dropping a number of places in a list of universities can cause near-panic.
The response from Trinity College Dublin to its dramatic fall in the Times Higher Education magazine’s 2020 world university rankings has been to call on the Government to develop a national strategy on rankings and make it a national priority.
But, surely, the national priority should be to ensure that our universities are properly funded, so they can thrive as learning institutions and excel at research.
The Times ranking is prestigious, but it is also a blunt instrument, rating universities in different countries and continents that have widely different systems of higher education.
Other rankings are arguably just as important. Indeed, earlier this week, Trinity was ranked as the best university in Europe for producing entrepreneurs for the fifth year in a row. It is the only European university to rank in the top 50 universities worldwide for producing undergraduate entrepreneurs, according to Pitchbook, a leading private equity and entrepreneurial research firm.
The fall in the Times HE ranking is certainly a cause for concern, but it is not a cause for alarm. What is alarming is the decade-long decline in investment in our universities. Ireland’s knowledge economy deserves better.