Trinity College slips in latest global university rankings

Alarm among academics over impact of funding ‘crisis’ on third level

Trinity College Dublin has slipped again in the latest set of influential global university rankings.

The country's top-ranked university fell three places to 120th place in The Times Higher Education world university rankings for 2019.

Overall, most Irish colleges either remained static or slipped further down the global league table.

UCC, however, bucked the trend, entering the top 350, as did Maynooth University which entered the top 400.

The general downward trend of Irish universities in global rankings has sparked alarm among senior academics over the funding “crisis” facing higher education.

They argue that Government-imposed caps on staffing, growing student numbers and a decade of under-investment are to blame.

In the meanwhile, Asian countries in particular are investing more in their universities and climbing up the rankings.

Increased funding

In a statement, the Department of Education said the Government has begun a significant programme of investment in higher education with €100 million more being spend compared to two years ago.

It also recently announced a €2 billion capital funding programme for the sector over the coming decade.

As recently as 2011, Trinity was ranked in 76th place. This year, despite improving in a number of sectors, it slipped again from 117th place to 120th due to mainly to increased competition.

The next highest ranked Irish institutions - UCD and the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland - both maintained their standing (201-250th place).

UCC boosted its position (301-350, up from 351-400), NUI Galway fell (301-350, down from 201-250), while Maynooth University rose (351-400, up from 201-250).

There was no change in the position of DCU (401-500) and UL (501-600), while DIT fell (801-1,000, down from 601-800).

Ellie Bothwell, rankings editor for The Times Higher Education, said that while there were examples of progress from Ireland this year, the broader picture gave cause for concern.

“The country boasts immense potential for greater higher education success and visibility globally, and has a real opportunity ahead of it,” she said.

"Somewhat like Canada – as the US becomes more inward-looking – Ireland has an opportunity to reap the benefits of being open to the world, as Britain grapples with the potential impacts and restrictions of Brexit and tightened international student numbers.

“But to excel, its universities will require strong investment, the drive and ability to attract and retain the very best global talent, and a much-strengthened focus on research.”

Overall, the rankings show Oxford University in top spot for a third consecutive year, while Cambridge was second and Stanford in the US held steady in third.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) rose one place to fourth, while the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) dropped from last year’s joint third position to fifth.

Generally, while Europe and the US are still home to most of the top universities, east Asia is on the rise.

China's new number one, Tsinghua University, overtook the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and University of Edinburgh.

The University of Hong Kong overtook King's College London and Sweden's Karolinska Institute, and ranks one below Switzerland's École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne.

Irish universities: who’s up and who’s down

Trinity College Dublin 120 (down from 117 )

University College Dublin 201–250 (No change)

Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland 201–250 (No change)

University College Cork 301–350 (up from 351–400)

National University of Ireland, Galway 301–350 (down from 201–250)

Maynooth University 351–400 (up from 401–500)

Dublin City University 401–500 (No change)

University of Limerick 501–600 (No change)

Dublin Institute of Technology 801–1000 (down from 601–800)

Source: Times Higher Education