EDUCATION Minister Ruairi Quinn has urged all university heads to cooperate with a new ranking system that will grade higher education institutions on their performance across a range of headings.
Until now, rankings tended to focus mainly on institutions' research performance.
However, the new EU system 'U-Multirank' will rate teaching quality, international orientation, partnerships with business, contribution to regional growth as well as research.
Some 500 universities from across Europe and around the world are expected to sign up for the initiative, which will see the first results published early next year.
To date six Irish institutions have indicated they will take part – UCD, Cork IT, DIT, GMIT, IT Tallaght and IT Sligo.
Launching U-Multirank at a conference in Dublin Castle as part of the Irish presidency of the EU, Mr Quinn called on more universities to take part.
"We are strongly committed to helping roll out the next phase of the ranking system. I would urge higher education institutions across Europe and beyond to seize the opportunity to become involved in this new and impartial way of assessing their performance," he said.
The system will be compiled by an independent consortium and the EU has allocated €2m for the project for the next two years.
The initiative will also rate how universities perform by academic discipline with the first courses including business studies, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and physics.
It also allows for "personalised rankings", where students will be able to see how universities perform in the areas they are most interested in. One of the most widely regarded international rankings – the Times Higher Education World University Rankings – rates only a couple of Irish universities among the best in the world.
Last October, Trinity College Dublin came in at 110th place, up from 117 a year earlier but still a long way off the 76th place it previously held. Meanwhile UCD plummeted from 159th to 187th place.