Trinity College Dublin joined the League of European Research Universities this month as the first Irish university to join the network.
The league is formed by a net of Europe’s best research universities including Oxford and Cambridge and is known to play a significant role in creating EU policy and research programmes.
Trinity and the University of Copenhagen were the first additions to the league in ten years. Universities are evaluated on the volume of their research, funding, impact and other measures before acceptance.
Minister for Education Richard Bruton said the collaboration is a major accomplishment for Ireland not just Trinity itself, and at a fitting time when there has been recent concern of the falling of Ireland’s top universities in international rankings.
“It’s not all about the rankings though,” said Trinity computing student Matt Carroll, “It’s also giving [Trinity] a huge amount of opportunities and a voice to contribute to European research policy.”
Trinity is not the only school in the network concerned about international ranking. Oxford University, who was recently ranked number one in The Times Higher Education World University Rankings, has been predicted to lose this status by its vice chancellor Prof Louise Richardson.
Richardson, an Irish-born citizen, told a national conference on the Easter Rising in Galway that she anticipates the 15 per cent of non-EU students and 17 per cent of non-EU staff to decline as a result of Brexit. She explained that this could have a positive effect on Irish universities if British academics chose to leave their current universities due to worry of their EU research funding being cut.
While gaining British academics is a positive effect for Irish students studying in their home country, there are still 11,000 Irish students studying in the UK who could be negatively affected by Brexit. EU students in Britain are guaranteed EU fees for the next year, but after that “all bets are off”, said Richardson.
“It is a real challenge to British universities,” she said to the conference, “We are trying to make the British Government see sense about this, but they are unable to give away their negotiating position.”
Image Credit: Lydia McKay