TCD joins prestigious university Top 50 list
TRINITY College Dublin (TCD) has broken through to the top 50 of the world's best universities in the latest international league table.
And University College Dublin (UCD) has made a significant leap to 108th position -- from 177th last year.
TCD and UCD are the only two universities in the Republic to make it into the top 200 in the Times Higher Education-QS World University rankings, published by the UK-based Times Higher Education Supplement (THES).
Ireland is rated 17th in the world in terms of the strength of its university system and its success in delivering higher education.
Queens University Belfast came in at 202nd place, narrowly missing a slot in the top 200, which are concentrated in 32 countries around the world. The table, now in its fifth year, is dominated by American universities, with Oxford and Cambridge leading the way in Europe.
Trinity, at 49th place, is up four places on last year's ranking of 53 and remains at 13th position in Europe, while UCD is 39th. UCD jumped 111 places from 216 in 2006 and 69 places since last year.
TCD Provost, Dr John Hegarty said when they produced their first Strategic Plan in 2003 it was their ambition to enter the top 50 grouping.
"It is absolutely critical for Ireland, especially in this knowledge driven age, to have more universities in the front rank. It is important to note that we have been ranked in the top 43 universities by the employer survey. This sends a clear message regarding the relevance of our education and training programmes," he said.
He said it was their hope and intention to further improve on their position, but this was becoming increasingly difficult in a rapidly deteriorating funding climate.
UCD president Dr Hugh Brady, said the reason the university gained so many places, was due to a combination of factors, most notably the recognition gained by the new UCD Horizons modular curriculum and the striking increase in research activity across the University -- in both the arts and the sciences.
UCD's performance reflects an improvement in all categories, in particular, the academic survey rank, which is based on how a university is viewed by 5,000 academics worldwide.
"We have always maintained that rankings are not a driver of our activities but it is fair to say that they are part of the competitive world in which we live." Dr Brady said.
"My hope is that we can remain on this trajectory into the future."
The difference in the scores between the universities can be very small so quite a minor change can move the rankings quite dramatically.
Meanwhile, the heads of the Irish universities are today attending a meeting with the Oireachtas Committee on Education and Science to discuss the ongoing debate about the re-introduction of the controversial university fees, levels of financial accountability and systems for measuring outcomes in colleges.