THE placings 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, Trinity College Dublin (TCD) has slipped 22 places to 160th in the UK-based Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) annual World University Rankings rankings, but other colleges have seen an improvement in their standings.
University College Dublin (UCD) has moved back into the top 200 in the 2015-16 table, 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), which has slipped from the 276th to 300th band last year.
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, academic and research reputation surveys and staff to student ratios. Changes introduced this year included an expansion in the volume and breadth of data collected while THES also brought the data collection work in-house.
Mr Baty’s words were echoed by Higher Education Authority (HEA) chief executive Tom Boland who 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 higher education institutions globally.
But he warned that the “deterioration” in third-level funding was “a cause for serious concern and as we see, it is now being highlighted internationally.”
Trinity Dean of Research, Professor John Boland said “for Trinity to sustain its position and increase further worldwide, requires sustained investment in the university sector.”
UCD president Professor Andrew Deeks said Ireland’s was being kept back by ”the deficit in State investment in our universities in comparison with other countries. We see the results of strong commitment in other European countries such as the Netherlands, which has 12 universities in the top 200.”
Maynooth University president Professor 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 to leading international universities”.