Trinity College Dublin (TCD) is back in the top 100 of a global college league.
Ireland’s oldest higher education institution is ranked 98th in the QS World University Rankings 2023, up three places from last year.
He breaks a five-year run outside the top 100, an improvement attributed to an increase in his academic reputation, based on how often his research papers are cited internationally.
Welcoming his rise in the rankings, Trinity Provost Dr Linda Doyle said it was “great news for Ireland’s global reputation”.
Professor Doyle said the rankings had flaws in the way they measured everything that happened at a university, but they were closely watched internationally, and it was “hugely important to Trinity and to Ireland that we are in the Top 100”.
But there are continuing warnings that Ireland will need to boost investment in higher education if it is to keep pace or progress in an increasingly competitive international arena.
University College Dublin (UCD) is the second highest ranked Irish university in the QS table and the only other Irish institution to feature in the top 200, despite falling from 173rd last year to 181st.
NUI Galway, University College Cork (UCC) University of Limerick (UL) and Maynooth University (MU) also lost ground. Meanwhile, Dublin City University (DCU) is Ireland’s most improved university, climbing 19 positions to 471st place. Its most significant gains were in citations by faculty category, indicating strong research performance. Dublin University of Technology remains in the same position as last year.
The QS Ranking uses six indicators, including academic and employer reputation, based on survey responses from more than 150,000 academics and 99,000 employers. Faculty citations measure the impact of research while the academic staff-student ratio is used as an indicator of teaching capacity. The number of international students and staff is also measured.
Overall, Ireland has improved its reputation with employers and has a prevalence of medical research.
NUI Galway has the highest academic staff to student ratio in Ireland, indicating small class sizes, placed 183rd in this measure, compared to 424th for UCC. Despite this, NUI Galway fell 12 positions in total to rank 270th, due to the drop in all other indicators.
One obstacle to Irish universities moving up the global rankings is the high ratio of students to staff, largely due to state budget cuts a decade ago after the financial crash.
QS senior vice-president Ben Sowter said “positive reputation” trends in Ireland suggest the country’s universities continue to command the respect of employers and encourage students to succeed in the workplace.
But he added: “With Ireland experiencing record numbers of registrations, the challenge remains financial. Indeed, barriers to further improvement are most evident in areas that require constant investment: teaching capacity, for example.
“In many ways, Irish institutions work well. However, in an increasingly competitive global environment, the limits of their success will be defined by the investment.
Higher and Further Education Minister Simon Harris recently announced a new €307 million investment plan for higher education called Funding the Future, although details have not been announced.
Dr Doyle said additional government funding to tackle Trinity’s staff-to-student ratio was essential to ensure it remained in the Top 100.
“While I welcome the government’s recent announcement ‘Financing the Future’, this now needs to be implemented. Investing in higher education benefits our students and our society,” she said.
This year’s QS ranking is the largest ever, with 1,418 properties across 100 locations, up from 1,300 last year. The results take into account the distribution and performance of 16.4 million academic articles published between 2016 and 2020 and the 117.8 million citations received by these articles.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology achieves a record 11th consecutive year as world number one. Cambridge University moved up to second place, while Stanford University remains in third place.