Dublin City University was one of seven Irish universities to fall in QS World University Rankings published this week, going from 353rd to 380th place.
Although Trinity College Dublin (TCD) was Ireland’s highest ranking institution, it dropped 20 places to 98th, just retaining its spot in the top 100 international universities. University College Dublin (UCD), the country’s second highest, fell 22 places to 176th.
Decreases were also seen by NUI Maynooth, UCC and UL.
NUI Galway was the only Irish university to rise in the rankings, increasing 22 places and breaking into the top 250.
The table, which considered over 4,300 universities from around the world, hailed Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston as best in the world for the fifth year running. Stanford and Harvard followed, with Oxford and Cambridge also making the top 10.
Several bodies have blamed the widespread drop in Irish rankings on cuts to the sector, with DCU President Brian MacCraith saying this must be a “wake up call for Government.”
“An immediate investment of at least €100m is required for the third-level sector in the upcoming budget; a financial commitment which is fundamental to the recovery and future growth of the Irish economy,” he said.
This was echoed by the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT), who said lack of investment coupled with rising student numbers was putting universities under extreme pressure.
“Government policy towards funding and staffing in the sector is the primary cause of the current malaise. Between 2007 and 2014, state funding for universities fell by 28%, from €722.8m in 2007 to €522.2m,” said Mike Jennings, IFTU General Secretary.
“This was matched by an increase in full-time enrollment in our seven universities of 18%, from 78,577 in 2008 to 93,023 in 2014.”
QS officials also highlighted the importance of investment, with Ben Sowter, head of research at the QS Intelligence Unit, saying higher education spending is intrinsically linked with rankings performance and that seven years of cuts were “laid bare” by the rankings.
QS is a private consultancy company which ranks universities based on a number of criteria. They examine faculty to student ratio, employer reputation, international student ratio and the number of research citations per faculty, amongst other things.
The rankings are most heavily weighted by an academic peer review, which sees a number of international academics offer suggestions for the top universities in different fields.
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