We should only back handful of top universities - UCD business dean
The dean of UCD's business school has said Ireland needs to "make choices" about establishing centres of excellence if our universities are to stop their slide in the world rankings.
"The sense is that [universities] all get the same attention, when in fact if you want to be focused on excellence, we should make choices about excellence being in one place," Professor Ciaran O hOgarthaigh told the Irish Independent.
"In the graduate context, I think one business school or one university competing in that space," Professor O hOgartaigh, inset, added.
"If the country is serious about having universities highly ranked, well then it's actually the society in general that needs to make that decision, and there are choices to be made about supporting one business school or one university more than another," he said.
Professor O hOgartaigh said such a policy would "not necessarily" involve a merger between UCD and a university like Trinity College Dublin. "You could have excellence in different disciplines in different universities…it could be just one business school making the difference or forging ahead."
In the latest Times Higher Education Rankings, Trinity - Ireland's highest ranked university - fell to 138th place from 129th.
UCD fell out of the top 200 from 161st place, but its MBA programme is the only Irish one ranked in the Financial Times's global MBA rankings.
However, Professor O hOgartaigh said rankings tend to be taken too seriously.
"We do tend to overestimate them and as an accountant I know the fragility of numbers in that they can change for various reasons. On the other hand, students look at rankings...and if you want to compete internationally, you must be ranked, you must be accredited."