‘Young university’ rankings: DCU up, Maynooth down

DIT and Ulster University make top 100 for the up-and-coming third-level institutions

Dublin Institute of Technology remains unchanged at 94th in the index. Photograph: The Irish Times

Dublin Institute of Technology remains unchanged at 94th in the index. Photograph: The Irish Times


There are contrasting fortunes for Ireland’s youngest universities in the latest higher education league table published Wednesday.

DCU has risen from 92nd to 75th in the Times Higher Education (THE) ranking of the world’s top universities aged under 50 years. But Maynooth University, which was ranked 67th last year, has dropped out of the top 100.

Dublin Institute of Technology remains unchanged at 94th in the index, which aims to identify those institutions with “the potential to become the next generation’s Harvard or Oxford”.

In better news for Maynooth University, two of its academics have received prestigious awards from the Association of American Geographers, a scientific foundation with members in 60 countries.

Prof Rob Kitchin received a media achievement award in recognition of his work engaging on issues of public importance, while Professor Gerry Kearns was named distinguished historical geographer for 2015.

The latest rankings were published to coincide with the THE’s annual “young universities summit”, which is being held in DCU this week.

Top slot

A UK-based commercial publishing company, THE said it employed a specially recalibrated methodology this year to better capture the characteristics of young institutions, “giving less weight to subjective reputation measures and more to hard, objective metrics”.

Switzerland’s École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne has moved into the top slot in the league table, overtaking South Korea’s Pohang University of Science and Technology.

Australia has emerged as the number one nation, with 16 top 100 institutions, up from 14 last year. The UK comes next with 15 entries, including the rebranded Ulster University at 95th place.

DCU president Prof Brian MacCraith said “we are delighted with our performance” in the rankings.

“A reconfiguration of our research strategy has focussed on tangible outputs in the areas of connected health, digital society, sustainable economies and democratic societies, deepening a strong tradition of collaboration with industry and international academic partners,” he said.

Phil Baty, THE rankings editor, said Maynooth University was one of a number of institutions now “on the cup” of the top 100, and it had fallen down mainly because of the increasingly competitive nature of the league table.

He stressed DCU received no bonus for hosting the summit, saying “the data was done before they were confirmed as partners”. However, he said, “hosting a major global event like this will have a long term reputational boost”.

It might help in future rankings “because they are more networked”.

Explaining the main reasons for moving up in the rankings, he said the single most important indicator was research excellence, particularly “highly impactful” research. A second factor was the university’s international dimension and ability to “collaborate across borders”.