Funds cut blamed as reputation of colleges on the slide
THE reputation of Irish universities is slipping internationally -- and funding cuts are blamed.
The world's employers are less impressed with Irish graduates than they were a year ago, according to the latest global college league table.
The QS World University Rankings also warns of a potential drop in the quality of teaching because of staff cuts and growing student numbers.
On a more positive note, there is growing recognition of the research being done in Irish universities.
A reintroduction of fees would be an alternative to the cuts, but Education Minister Ruairi Quinn says that will not happen during his reign.
The QS World University Rankings, covering the top 700 institutions, are based on the views of 46,000 academics and 25,000 employers worldwide.
Of all the Irish universities, only Trinity College Dublin makes it into the QS top 100, at 67th place, down two places on last year.
Five Irish universities are in the top 400, while all seven plus Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) are in the top 700.
It puts those colleges in about the top 5pc, but lagging behind the elite.
University College Dublin (UCD) is 131st, up three places from 134, followed by University College Cork, which fell nine places to 190. NUI Galway is also up 1 place to 287, while Dublin City University (DCU) held its own, sharing 324th place.
Dublin Institute of Technology and the University of Limerick are in the 451-500 category while NUI Maynooth is among a group placed between 501-550.
With no dramatic changes in the positions of Irish colleges, their overall performance is regarded as "stable".
But according to QS, further scrutiny suggests trouble ahead because of staff-student ratios and employer reputation.
It is worrying that, in the eyes of employers, the reputation of all eight Irish colleges has slipped, while six of the eight have lost ground because of the staff-student ratio.
The Department of Education said it was likely that these employers' views will have been influenced by external factors.
But Ben Sowter, QS head of research, warned that "prolonged drops" in staff-student ratio "are likely to have long-term detrimental effects".