Funding warning as top-placed Trinity slips down global university rankings
The ranking of some Irish third-level universities in a major global league table have shifted significantly after changes in the way they are measured.
Ireland's top-placed university, Trinity College Dublin (TCD), has slipped 22 places to 160th in the UK-based 'Times Higher Education Supplement' (THES) 2015-16 World University Rankings, but other colleges have improved their standing.
University College Dublin (UCD) has moved back into the top 200, up 53 places to joint 176th. The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) has jumped from 389th to a band covering 251st to 300th places, joining NUI Galway.
Maynooth University, which was not in the top 400 last year, has moved into the 351st-400th band, alongside University College Cork (UCC).
Despite some upward movement, after years of cuts, the strong message from rankings editor Phil Baty was that "Ireland will have to put higher education further up its national agenda if it is to truly make its mark on this prestigious list".
The rankings are based on 13 different performance indicators, including research activity, a survey of colleges' academic and research reputations and their staff-to-student ratios.
Changes this year included an expansion in the volume and breadth of data gathered, while THES also brought the data collection work in-house.
Higher Education Authority (HEA) chief executive Tom Boland welcomed that Ireland's seven universities, the RCSI and Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) feature in the top 5pc, and two - Trinity and UCD - were in the top 1pc of 18,000 globally.
But he warned that the "deterioration in funding is a cause for serious concern and it is being highlighted internationally".
Trinity dean of research, Prof John Boland, said: "For Trinity to sustain its position and increase further worldwide requires sustained investment in the university sector."
UCD president, Prof Andrew Deeks, said Ireland was being kept back by "the deficit in State investment in universities in comparison with other countries".
"We see the results of strong commitment in countries such as the Netherlands, which has 12 universities in the top 200," he said.
Maynooth University president, Prof Philip Nolan, said: "The major weakness revealed in these rankings is that we have fewer people and less resources to teach our students when compared with leading international universities."