Ireland takes another hit in world university rankings as Trinity drops three places
Ireland has been dealt another blow in an international university league table, with Trinity College Dublin falling in the rankings.
Trinity dropped three places to 120th in the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2019.
The fall has been attributed to increased competition from big-spending universities in other countries, as Ireland's higher education sector continues its battle with the Government for more investment.
Last year, Trinity had jumped 14 places to 117th position, making this year's results a disappointment.
University College Dublin and the Royal College of Surgeons (RCSI) are next in line for Ireland. They both lie in the 201-250 bracket, unchanged since last year.
Ireland retains nine universities - RCSI and Dublin Institute of Technology are included - in the top 1,000.
But only two institutions progressed this year - University College Cork into the top 350 and Maynooth University into the top 400.
Ellie Bothwell, the rankings editor for UK-based THE, said Ireland had an opportunity to reap the benefits of being open to the world as the UK grappled with the potential restrictions of Brexit.
"But to excel, its universities will require strong investment, the drive and ability to attract and retain the very best global talent, and a much-strengthened focus on research," she said.
Professor Linda Doyle, who is dean of research at Trinity College, welcomed the university's improved performance across four of five ranking categories.
She said it was "a measure of how competitive the field is that better performance on our part is not reflected in the rankings".
Prof Doyle added: "Increased investments by our global competition versus a reduced Government investment in Ireland continue to have a direct impact on the rankings."
Oxford and Cambridge retain the top two positions in the world rankings, but Japan has surpassed the UK as the country with the second most representatives. The US still dominates the table, but China is rising swiftly.
The Department of Education urged caution about "commercial, unregulated rankings" and added that the Government had begun a significant programme of investment in higher education.
Meanwhile, students, staff and institutions have come together to urge a bigger Government response "to the growing crisis in higher education funding".