Irish universities slip down world rankings as Trinity retains 101st place

Rising student numbers and freeze on staffing a factor behind drop in performance

Several of Ireland's top universities have slipped down the latest set of global rankings, while Trinity College Dublin has retained its status as Ireland's top-ranked third-level institution, just outside the top-100.

The QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) World University Rankings for 2022 show Trinity ranks 101st in the world – unchanged – while UCD climbed four places to 173rd.

NUI Galway dropped out of the top 250 and ranks 258th (down 20), followed by UCC in 298th place (down 12 from).

DCU ranked in 490th place (down 51) while University of Limerick ranked in the 501-510 band (up from 511-520).

Maynooth University has ranked in the 751-800 band (down from 701-750), while Technological University Dublin is unchanged in the band 810-1,000.

QS’s overall rankings are based on a number of key indicators, including academic and employer reputation, staff-student ratios, citations per faculty and the international nature of faculty and staff.

The latest data indicates that a decline in teaching capacity – due to rising student numbers without a corresponding increase in staffing – and lower research performance are behind the overall drop in performance.

For example, six Irish universities recorded a decline in their faculty-student ratios, while all ranked Irish universities recorded lower citations per faculty. In addition, no Irish university achieved a top-200 score for research impact.

Irish positives

QS spokesman Jack Moran said that overall positive reputational trends suggest that Irish universities continue to command the respect of the world's academics and are nurturing graduates capable of succeeding in the modern workplace.

There was also improved performance in internationalisation indicators, suggesting that Irish universities remained attractive to both students and faculty across the world.

However, he said obstacles to further improvement were in areas that required “consistent investment” such as teaching capacity and research impact.

“While a deeper dive into our data suggests that, in many respects, Ireland’s institutions are performing well, there will, in an increasingly competitive global environment, be an upper bound on their improvement as long as current funding constraints continue,” he said.

In relation to Trinity’s performance, he said the university achieved the 93rd-best score in the world for its academic reputation, based on the opinions of more than 130,000 academics across the world regarding university quality.

However, it did not make the overall top 100 due to a slight decline in its employer reputation score, a decrease in teaching capacity, measured by the faculty-student ratio , and a decline in relative research performance.

While it improved its citations per faculty score over the past year, greater rates of improvement from peer institutions meant its relative rank for this indicator fell.

Trinity provost Dr Patrick Prendergast said he was pleased to see the college retain its position as Ireland's leading university.

He said the university would have performed even better were it not for the relatively high staff-student ratios common in Irish institutions.

“ I know the Government has plans to invest more in third-level education, and I hope that this issue will slowly be resolved,” he said.

UCD's rise, meanwhile, was due to improvements in employer recognition and international faculty ratio, which counterbalanced small drops in research performance and academic reputation.

* This article has been amended to correct a factual error


Trinity College Dublin: 101 (unchanged)

University College Dublin: 173 (up 4 from 177)

National University of Ireland, Galway: 258 (down 20 from 238)

University College Cork: 298 (down 12 from 286)

Dublin City University (DCU): 490 (down 51 from 439)

University of Limerick: 501-510 (up from 511-520)

Maynooth University: 701-750 (down from 751-800)

Technological University Dublin: 810-1,000 (unchanged)

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