Irish universities rank high in research output – EU study

Multirank system indicates Irish universities falling behind in ‘teaching and learning’ skills

Higher education institutions in Ireland are performing well against their European counterparts in research output and developing links with industry, according to global rankings published today.

However, the EU-sponsored U-Multirank suggests Irish universities are falling behind the curve in "teaching and learning", as well as developing internships and other bridges to employment.

The U-Multirank, now in its second year, profiles higher education institutions (HEIs) across a range of performance indicators rather than producing a single league table.

The project has been developed to challenge the hegemony of commercial rankings, which have been widely blamed for skewing the goals of higher education.


Both TCD and UCD are continuing to opt out of U-Multirank, although the data they give to commercial rating agencies is included in its institutional assessments.

Data set

The other five universities in the State, along with six institutes of technology, have shared a larger data set with U-Multirank, allowing them to be assessed across a broader range of headings.

At institutional level UCC performed particularly well with A grades in three of five key areas: research; knowledge transfer (based on co-publications with industry partners); and international orientation. Cork IT got As in two of the five areas, while TCD got only one in research.

No Irish HEI got an A grade for teaching and learning, which was measured by the graduation rate in masters programmes – an indicator of the quality of academic supports.

Similarly, no Irish institution got an A grade for learning experience, as measured by internships and work experience programmes, in two profiled areas of study: psychology and computer science.

Very well

In four other key areas for computer science, however,


performed very well with three As, while

Maynooth University

got two As.

Unlike the three big international rating agencies – Shanghai, Times Higher Education and QS – U-Multirank avoids top 10 or top 100 rankings. Instead institutions are graded in 31 criteria on a five-point scale from A (very good) to E (weak).

Students can evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of universities across the different headings using an internet tool (

Both TCD and UCD were scored on 12 indicators, getting eight As and six As respectively.

UCC got 21 As (out of 28 indicators), DCU 14 As (out of 26), UL 13 As (out of 31); Cork IT 12 As (out of 30); DIT 11 As (out of 30); NUIG 10 As (out of 18), Maynooth University 10 As (out of 29).

U-Multirank said its research demonstrated various aspects of excellence were to be found in many different universities and “the concept of the ‘best’ university in the world depends on what you’re looking for”.

More than 1,200 HEIs have been profiled in this year’s U-Multirank, up from 850 in 2014.

Joe Humphreys

Joe Humphreys

Joe Humphreys is an Assistant News Editor at The Irish Times and writer of the Unthinkable philosophy column