All but one of seven Irish universities fall in world rankings

All but one of the seven Irish universities have fallen in the latest international rankings which reflect the worsening effects of almost a decade of budget cuts.

Trinity College Dublin (TCD) remains the only one in the top 100 of the QS World University Rankings but only just, after tumbling 20 places to 98th. It has fallen every year, but one, since 2009 when it was 43rd.

Among the biggest drop is University College Cork’s 50-place fall from 233 to 283rd, and now trailing NUI Galway. UCC was in the top 200 from 2010 to 2012, reaching 181st in 2011.

Maynooth University is now ranked between 650 and 700, after being in the 550-600 banding a year ago and the top 450 in 2010.

The other falls for Irish institutions include:

  • University College Dublin (UCD) — down 22 to 176th, 89th in 2009.
  • Dublin City University — down 27 places to 380th, 100 below its 2009 rank.
  • University of Limerick — in the 501-550 band (471-480 last year and 451st in 2009).

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) tops the QS rankings for a fifth successive year. The only improvement in the rankings is by NUIG. It is up from 271st to 249th, a fifth successive gain and almost back to its 2009 rank of 243rd.

NUIG president Dr Jim Browne said its international reach was being advanced by rising international student numbers, and collaborations with an array of industry partners, facilitated by high-calibre research and teaching.

Dublin Institute of Technology is also included in the QS rankings, and it drops from the 601-650 band to the next lowest, 651-700.

Government-imposed staffing restrictions for nearly a decade are clearly impacting, with seven of the eight Irish colleges seeing their performance in the faculty-student measurement drop.

The same trend is probably a factor in five out of eight Irish colleges dropping places on a comparison of the number of citations of academics’ work from each university. TCD is one of the exceptions, rising to 151st, as does UCD which moves up to 185th, signalling that they continue to increase their research reputations.

All but one of seven Irish universities fall in world rankings

But seven Irish universities have disimproved this year on graduate employability.

Ben Sowter, head of research at the QS intelligence unit, said the effects of seven years of higher education cuts are laid bare in Ireland’s performance, with falling academic staff numbers affecting our status in the academic reputation measure. He suggested the performance of Irish universities is a consequence of long-standing issues in the higher education system.

Mr Sowter said global changes this year are heavily linked to higher education spending, as colleges are rising in countries that provide high levels of targeted funding from endowments or public funds. On the other hand, he said, European countries making or proposing cuts to public research spending lose ground to US and Asian counterparts.

MIT is trailed in the QS Rankings top 10 by Stanford and Harvard universities, with British universities Cambridge and Oxford fourth and sixth, respectively.


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