Trinity is highest-ranked Irish university despite slipping in world standings

UCD narrows gap by jumping 45 places to 126th in latest QS World University Rankings

Trinity College Dublin remains the top-ranked Irish higher education institution despite slipping a few places. Photograph: Getty

Trinity College Dublin remains the top-ranked Irish higher education institution despite slipping a few places in the latest annual set of world university rankings.

The QS World University Rankings for 2025 places Trinity at 87th in the world, down six places on last year, and is the only Irish university in the top 100.

University College Dublin (UCD), Ireland’s second-best performer, has narrowed the gap by climbing to 126th, up 45 places.

University College Cork (UCC) and University of Galway were tied in third place (both 273rd, up 19 places and 16 places respectively).


DCU and University of Limerick were the next highest ranked Irish institutions (both 421st, up 15 places and five places, respectively).

Maynooth University maintained its position year on year (810-850 category) as did Technological University Dublin (851-900 category).

Overall, Irish universities have consolidated their standings after a positive performance last year which saw seven of eight ranked colleges climb up the rankings.

While there are more than a dozen world university rankings, the QS version is considered by many observers to be one of the “big three”, alongside the Times Higher Education and Shanghai’s Academic Ranking of World Universities.

Critics say university rankings are not an accurate measure of performance and neglect key areas such as the quality of teaching and learning.

However, they remain influential international in areas such as reputation, research and as a destination for international students.

The QS World University Rankings are based on a range of indicators including academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty/student ratio, citations per faculty, international faculty and student ratio, international research network, employment outcomes and sustainability.

Ireland’s performs relatively strongly under headings such as international student ratio, employment outcomes and sustainability.

However, its does less well in faculty/student ratios and citations per faculty. Senior academics argue that Ireland’s relatively poor performance in these areas is linked to underfunding.

Globally, the rankings show that Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) maintains its top spot for the 13th year in a row.

Imperial College London jumps four places to take second place, ahead of the University of Oxford and Harvard University remain in third and fourth place respectively, while the University of Cambridge rounds out the top five.

The high ranking for Imperial is a significant achievement for Prof Hugh Brady, former UCD president and now president of Imperial College London.

“Imperial’s ranking is a testament to the quality and commitment of our entire community,” he said. “It is inspiring to see our students, staff and partners come together every day to interrogate the forces that shape our world and address the challenges facing humanity and our planet.”

Switzerland and Singapore are the only other countries featured in the top 10, with ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and National University of Singapore (NUS) placing seventh and eighth respectively.

The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is the only institution to break into the top 10 in the latest set of rankings.

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien is Education Editor of The Irish Times. He was previously chief reporter and social affairs correspondent