University funding and global rankings


Sir, – Carl O’Brien reports (News, September 12th) on the continuing decline of our universities in international rankings.

Fine Gael politicians have been forming an orderly queue to tell us that university registration fees will not be increased and that a student loan scheme will not be introduced (News, August 12th).

Mary Mitchell O’Connor, the Minister of State with responsibility for higher education, told us she was “delighted that the announcement has finally been made that Fine Gael will not be introducing a student loan scheme”.

She went so far as to tell us – safe now in the knowledge that no resignation on a matter of principle would be required – that she could not have supported the introduction of such a scheme.

Our third-level education system has been starved of funds for at least ten years. When Ms Mitchell O’Connor gets over her delight at telling us how this problem will not be solved, might we expect to have the benefit of her valuable insights as to how it will be? – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6.

Sir, – Any country with a knowledge-based economy requires centres of academic excellence as a matter of priority. How can investors have confidence in Irish graduates when the nation’s top university now ranks a pitiful 164th, globally?

It has taken a solid commitment to mediocrity and underinvestment to drive Trinity so far down the list.

To have taken one of the ancient universities that numbers Swift, Wilde, Walton and Beckett among its alumni and to let its international standing fall beneath a technical college in mainland China took some doing. It is almost an achievement in itself.

I trust the Government takes note and acts with urgency to reverse this trend. International investors tend not to be comforted by failure on so epic a scale. – Yours, etc,




Sir, – Once again this year, Trinity College Dublin has continued its experiment in commencing the Michaelmas term three weeks before Michaelmas.

Just as teaching has begun, we have been greeted with the news that the college has dramatically fallen again in the world university rankings.

Meanwhile, English institutions which have retained the tradition of beginning the academic year towards the end of September or early October (such as Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, and King’s) have continued to perform strongly.

Perhaps a study needs to be conducted to evaluate whether there is a correlation between the beginning of the academic year and the ranking of a university. – Yours, etc,