Irish universities fail again to make it on to list of world's top 100
THE reputation of Irish universities continues to lag behind those of our nearest neighbours as none feature in a list of the world's most prestigious institutions.
Well-known universities in the US dominate the latest international league table, based on academic 'reputation' or university brands – with Harvard University, MIT in Boston and Stanford University claiming the top three spots.
Some 46 US institutions feature in the top 100, while the UK accounts for 10.
The latest 2014 World Reputation Rankings from the UK-based 'Times Higher Education' examines academic prestige and is based upon responses from over 10,500 experienced academics who were asked to nominate 15 of the best institutions in their particular field.
Rankings editor Phil Baty said it was worrying for Ireland that no universities are on the list as global reputation is a key factor in attracting top international talent, research collaborations and investment.
It also highlights evidence of an academic shift in power from West to East, with a noted reputational decline in the UK, France and Sweden.
Institutions in the West have been suffering from economic constraints, with state third-level funding in Ireland dropping 14pc in real terms over the past decade.
Mr Baty said no Irish university had featured in the top 100 list since the rankings, carried out by Thompson Reuters, were first published in 2011.
"Unfortunately the Irish universities have never made it," he said, adding that the data they had received shows they are now "falling further away".
Mr Baty said Trinity College Dublin was the "highest in terms of reputation", yet it still fell far short of making the list.
Only the top 100 universities are informed of their rankings, with those falling outside provided with no indication of where they may have featured.
"It is completely subjective, it is just an opinion poll but it is the expert views of scholars from all over the world, with an average of 18 years' experience each and they are well informed in their field," said Mr Baty.
"It is purely subjective brand-based material but it has real world consequences."
Mr Baty said there is a danger "of a vicious cycle" as if a university is losing global reputation, then it is less likely to be able to attract industrial partnerships.
A spokeswoman for Trinity College Dublin said it was delivering for Ireland at the "highest international levels", adding: "Trinity remains in the top 2pc of universities globally in the World University Rankings Reputation Survey 2014."
Trinity said it was not surprising that "universities such as Harvard, Stanford and Oxford are leading in terms of reputation and that well-funded universities in Asia are also beginning to feature.
"A world class university system requires resourcing at internationally competitive levels. For Trinity to sustain its position and increase further worldwide requires sustained investment in the university sector."
A spokesman for University College Dublin said: "Institutions outside the top 100 have no data made available to them to understand whether they have moved up or down in these particular rankings."
More than 20 countries feature in the 2014 reputational rankings, which highlight an elite group of six US and UK 'super-brands', including the University of Cambridge in fourth spot, with the University of Oxford and the University of California, Berkeley just behind.
In Asia, the strongest performer is Japan, with five placings, while South Korea's Seoul National University is Asia's biggest rising star, jumping from 41st to 26th place.