IRELAND's three youngest universities are ranked among the top 100 in the world for their age.
The new league table shines a light on colleges that struggle for recognition against institutions with reputations going back hundreds of years.
Global university rankings are usually dominated by iconic names such as Oxford (established 1096), Cambridge (established 1209) and Harvard (established 1636). Trinity College, which carries top billing for Ireland in such tables, was established in 1592.
The new UK-based Times Higher Education (THE) 100 Under 50 rankings puts NUIM in 64th place, DCU at 86th and UL at 97th.
Rankings editor Phil Baty said they served as a warning to the traditional elites that new powers were quickly emerging.
He commented on the "tough times" faced by Irish universities now because of the difficult funding situation.
"The fact that the Ireland's older elite universities did not make the traditional THE World University Rankings top 100 list last autumn was a cause of great concern. However, this new list of the world's best under 50s offers some hope."
Higher Education Authority chief executive Tom Boland said that while there was often dispute as to what rankings measured, Ireland's universities were always among the top 2pc-3pc.
There are about 15,000 universities in the world, but it is not known exactly how many fall into the under 50 category.
It measured colleges using 13 criteria, and adapted the methodology it uses for its annual World Top100 specially for this purpose.
Earlier this week, DCU was ranked 46th in another rankings of global universities under 50 years old, conducted by ratings agency QS.