'Cuts to blame for colleges' low rank'
University heads warned of the effect of education cuts today after Ireland's two leading universities, Trinity College and UCD, slipped down the world rankings.
A fall in funding for third level institutes, a drop in staff numbers and increased competition from around the world have been blamed for the results.
Despite bad news for the Dublin colleges, University College Cork (UCC) made it on to the top 200 list for the first time, coming in at 184, compared with 207 last year.
Cork is now among the top 2pc of universities worldwide.
According to the QS World University Rankings, Trinity slipped out of the top 50, down to 52 from 43 last year, while UCD fell out of the top 100, down to 114 from 89.
John Hegarty, Trinity Provost, said the college is still performing well against the world's elite and better resourced institutes.
But he warned: "The fact that Trinity is still ranked within the world's top 523 universities is remarkable, but I worry that we will not be able to sustain it in future years.
"Our staff-student ratio will deteriorate further unless there is a meaningful change in the level of national investment in third level education."
UCD president Hugh Brady warned successive waves of funding cuts cannot be absorbed without impacting quality.
"Our universities must be empowered to realise their full potential if Ireland is to compete successfully," he said.
UCC president Michael Murphy said the top 200 ranking reflects the hard work of the entire UCC community, the excellence of teaching and learning, and international recognition achieved by researchers.
"It is a credit to the university as a whole, and to our researchers in particular, that we have made such a significant improvement in the world rankings," he said.
"This does not happen by accident. It takes hard work and dedication on the part of the entire UCC staff to ensure that the university continues to have such a high regional, national and international profile, one consistent with the standards we set for ourselves and with our ambition always to be better."