Eight Irish universities appear on a list of the world’s top 1,000 third-level institutions published today.
The Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) features eight US and two British universities in the top 10.
Trinity College Dublin is the Irish university closest to the top and is ranked 200th overall. University College Dublin ranked second in Ireland but 269th worldwide. University College Cork placed third in Ireland and 463rd on the list.
The other Irish universities on the list are the National University of Ireland, Galway (600), the Royal College of Surgeons (647), Dublin City University (819), the National University of Ireland, Maynooth (820) and the University of Limerick (944).
The US has 229 universities in the top 1,000, China has 84, Japan has 74, the UK has 64 and Germany has 55. Ireland and Greece have eight universities on the list.
The top 10 universities on the list are: Harvard; Stanford; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Cambridge; Oxford; Columbia; University of California, Berkeley; Chicago; Princeton and Yale.
The 2014 list is based on eight factors described by the CWUR as “objective and robust”. Education quality, alumni employment, quality of faculty, publications, influence, research citations, impact and patents all influence a university’s ranking.
Alumni employment, for example, is measured by the number of alumni holding chief executive positions in the world’s top companies relative to the university’s size.
Ned Costello, Irish Universities Association chief executive, warned the CWUR rankings should be "viewed with caution". He said the recently published Higher Education System performance report provides a more accurate picture of Irish university performance. That report includes "very positive findings in relation to the employability of graduates and the strength of research and innovation outputs".
Mr Costello argued that some of the measures do not accurately quantify the quality of Irish education. “For example, employment performance is defined as the number of alumni holding CEO positions in the top 2000 companies listed by Forbes magazine. In an Irish context, it probably matters more to the population at large that the unemployment rate of honours degree graduates six months after graduation is seven per cent (half of the national average), and down from 10 per cent in 2008,” he said.
Mr Costello also said highly-resourced institutions tend to fare better in international rankings. “Given the current trend of disinvestment by the State in higher education in Ireland”, the country is “swimming against the tide” in attempting to improve its performance in international rankings.
The complete list of CWUR's top 1000 universities can be found at cwur.org.