Four Irish universities make world's top 100 in subject-by-subject ranking

Four Irish universities are among the world’s 100 best providers of degrees in more than a dozen areas in a ranking that compares colleges subject-by-subject.

All four are in the top 100 for their nursing degrees in the QS World University Rankings by Subject.

Trinity College Dublin is ranked 36th for nursing, and University College Cork (UCC), University College Dublin (UCD) and NUI Galway (NUIG) are each ranked between 50 and 100. This strong performance could be linked to the knowledge of international employers of Irish nursing graduates.

The QS subjects analysis is based on research papers and citations of work from individual university academics, as well as responses to surveys of employers and other academics. It does not factor in staffing levels or funding which have influenced significant falls for Irish colleges in wider university rankings since the recession took effect over the last eight years.


UCD outperforms other universities considerably, listed as having 13 subjects in the top 100 globally. Among them is Ireland’s highest-ranked subject, with the university’s veterinary medicine programme up two places since last year to 29th.

Other UCD subjects in the Top 100 in the QS rankings include English language and literature, archaeology, history, law, politics, and international studies, and new entrants to the highest tier: philosphy, geography, and sports-related subjects.

UCD president Professor Andrew Deeks said the rankings appropriately reflect the standing of its subjects in the Irish context.

“They also indicate that the impact of our research is increasing internationally, despite the continuing funding issue and the constraints to our autonomy,” he said.


While UCD saw the number of top 100 subjects rise by two from last year, TCD has just two subjects ranked in the top 100 compared to 16 a year ago.

QS had to backdate TCD’s survey responses to cover the 2011 to 2015 period, instead of the 2012 to 2016 analysis used for other institutions, after it emerged that there was a significant email campaign from TCD to solicit participation by employers and academics, which breached QS policies.

This change to TCD’s scoring follows issues last year around its performance in another global ranking. The university’s results were withheld from last autumn’s Times Higher Education World University Ranking, when issues arose around its reporting of research income. The anomalies were corrected in revised figures issued last month.


UCC’s pharmacy and pharmacology provision is also listed in the QS top 100 subject rankings.

Aside from the 18 degrees at UCD, TCD, UCC and NUIG in the top 100, nearly 50 other subjects at these universities and at Dublin City University (three), Maynooth (two) University of Limerick (UL) and National College of Art & Design (one subject each) feature in the top 200.

Between these institutions, as well as Dublin Institute of Technology and Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, there were 107 courses in the QS Top 300 rankings by subject, up from 97 a year ago. However, due to an expansion in the analysis, most countries have more subjects ranked than in 2016.

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