Irish universities have regained some of the ground lost following years of decline in new world university rankings, but it comes at a time of ‘unprecedented challenges’ for the sector.
The latest QS World University Rankings sees five of Ireland’s universities rise within the top 1,000 institutions internationally, reversing downward trends seen in recent years.
Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin ended two consecutive years of declines in the rankings for 2021, while University College Cork has risen 52 places since 2019 placing it within the global top 300 universities for the first time since 2018.
Its upgraded ranking is due to its improvement in academic reputation as well as employer recognition and institutional teaching capacity.
The University of Limerick also regained the ground it lost in last year's rankings, rising from a ranking somewhere between 521 to 530, to somewhere between 511 - 520 for 2021. NUI Galway moved up 21 places to 238th in the world’s top 1,000 institutions.
However, Ireland remains outside the top 100. Trinity increased its position by seven places, TCD remains just outside of the top 100, coming in at joint-101st. UCD rose from 185th to 177th.
Professor Linda Doyle, Trinity’s Dean of Research praised Irish institutions' performance considering "under-investment and significant challenges we face in competing with other universities around the globe that are more robustly supported by government".
Significant and sustained improvements in the sector will only be achieved if there is long-term increases in investment, Prof Doyle added.
“This is even more urgent in light of the unprecedented challenges we face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The top three institutions, according to QS, remain Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Stanford University, and Harvard.