Wednesday 17 July 2019

No Irish university in the world’s top 100 as the country’s higher education sector falls further in global rankings

The plan commits €8.8bn to the primary and post-primary sectors between now and 2027 (Stock image)
The plan commits €8.8bn to the primary and post-primary sectors between now and 2027 (Stock image)
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

There is no Irish university in the world’s top 100 as the country’s higher education sector falls further in global rankings.

Trinity College Dublin has dropped from 88th to 104th, while the country’s largest university, UCD is down 25 places to 193rd.

Five of the seven universities, as well as Dublin Institute of Technology, have dropped in the QS World University Rankings  2019. The University of Limerick and Maynooth University have held their own.

It has a sparked a new round of warnings about how a funding shortage and staffing controls are damaging Ireland’s universities and the country’s reputation.

As other countries spend increasing amounts on higher education, austerity-era cuts in funding as well as staffing controls in Irish universities, which have not been reversed, is leaving Ireland trailing behind.

A sharp fall in applications to Trinity College Dublin from students from the North has been blamed on Brexit. (Stock picture)

According to QS, “an indicator-by-indicator performance indicates that the challenges facing Irish higher education are myriad.”

Seven of the country’s eight institutions saw  their rank for ‘academic reputation’ drop, while all eight receive lower ranks for ‘employer reputation’.

“This suggests that institutions in other nations are receiving an increasing share of global academic and employer recognition, at the expense of Irish institutions” the rankings agency said.

Seven of the country’s eight universities also receive a lower rank for ‘citations per faculty’, indicating that Irish research impact has declined relative to universities in other nations. It leaves Irish universities are no longer ahead of the average, but level with it.

UCD president Prof Andrew Deeks said while the Government “perseveres with austerity level funding”, countries like China were investing billions.”

Prof Deeks pointed out that, in 2008, UCD ranked 86th in the world in QS in terms of student:teacher ratio but now it was in 536th position, down 70 on last year alone.

He said a continuing deterioration in UCD’s student:teacher ratio “can no longer be endured” and said a range of options to tackle this issue EMBAR were being brought before the next meeting of its Governing Authority.

Irish Universities Association (IUA) director general Jim Miley said it was ”time to stop delaying a decision on a proper funding model for Irish third-level education.”

While there was some comfort for Trinity in being ranked Ireland’s leading university, its dean of research, Prof Linda Doyle said “Irish universities are sliding because we can’t compete on funding.”

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Education Minister Richard Bruton. Photo: Tom Burke

Education Minister Richard Bruton ignored the downward trend and said the rankings “reflected a strong performance overall by Ireland”.

He said that such rankings did not consider the quality of teaching or the quality of learning, or measure how universities tackled educational disadvantage, or support students with special educational needs.

Globally, Massachusetts Institute of Technology is named the world’s leading university for a record-breaking seventh consecutive year.

University of Oxford (5th) has usurped its longtime rival, the University of Cambridge (6th) to be the UK’s top institution

The UK and the USA have seen their performance stabilise, with slightly more improvements than drops.

Continental Europe’s best university remains ETH Zurich.


World University Rankings 2019: Ireland

20192018Institution Name
10488Trinity College Dublin (TCD)
193168University College Dublin (UCD)
260243National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG)
388283University College Cork (UCC)
422391Dublin City University (DCU)


511-520501-550University of Limerick (UL)
701-750701-750Maynooth University
751-800651-700Dublin university of Technology (DIT)


  • The full rankings can be found here

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