Majority of Irish universities tumble in world rankings

University College Cork

All but two Irish universities have slipped again in a global ranking system that sees Trinity College Dublin drop out of the top 100.

It was ranked 88th in the last QS World University Rankings but is now 104th, while University College Dublin fell from 168th to 193rd in the new ranking. 

NUI Galway dropped 17 places to 260th, its first fall in the rankings since 2011.

University College Cork said its drop from 283rd to 338th, in a year, is disappointing but was inconsistent with other assessments. 

This week’s U-Multirank system showed an improved year-on-year performance for UCC.

Dublin City University was placed 422nd, down from 391st, and Dublin Institute of Technology falls from the 651-700 banding to being ranked between 751 and 800. 

Only University of Limerick (ranked between 511 and 520) and Maynooth University (701-750) remain in the same ranking bands as last year.

QS said employer reputation ranks were down for all eight Irish colleges, and academic reputation fell at seven of them.

The relative impact of Irish research also appears to be declining as rankings for citations per faculty were lower this year at seven out of eight institutions. 

This was in spite of higher average citations than last year, as they did not match global average improvements.


The president of the country’s biggest university, UCD’s Professor Andrew Deeks, said its fall from 86th to 536th in the QS rank of student-teacher ratios was a result of employment restrictions and reduced State funding, but that it can no longer be endured. 

A year ago, he said that reducing places for Irish students would have to be considered if there was no solution, soon, to the funding of higher education.

“At a time when countries like China are investing billions into their best universities to reduce their student-teacher ratio to 10:1 and to raise their world standing, the Irish Government perseveres with austerity-level funding of Irish higher education,” said Prof Deeks.

“As a direct result, Irish parents continue to pay the highest up-front fees for undergraduate education in Europe, and the standing of the Irish university system continues to decline relative to more ambitious systems.” 

TCD dean of research Professor Linda Doyle said it was to the credit of teaching and research staff that it remained in the QS top 150 in view of funding challenges faced by all third-level institutions.

“This latest result for the university shows that we have work to do to ensure that Irish students can continue to avail of an internationally competitive higher education,” she said.

“Our economy is heavily dependent on [foreign direct investment] and on the employment of highly educated staff. 

"We cannot afford to fall behind our competitor countries in terms of investment in higher education; it is important for Ireland, not just for Trinity,” said Prof Doyle.

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