Date Uploaded: 21/05/2016
We are placed 25th out of 50 — slipping from 24th a year ago and 20th in 2013 — in the latest ranking of national higher education systems by QS.
It takes into account the overall placement of each nation’s universities in the QS world university rankings, but also the ranking of the top college in every country; the number of available places in top 500 universities relative to population; and government spending — and its effectiveness — in higher education.
While Trinity College Dublin remains the only Irish institution in the QS Top 100, it slipped last September from 71st to 78th. However, Ireland’s corresponding score on the ‘flagship’ ranking remains at 17th in the national systems table published today.
There were mixed fortunes for other colleges last autumn but six are in the top 700 on the QS World University Rankings, and the corresponding ‘system’ measure for the national system strength places Ireland 25th.
On the access measure, Ireland moved up from 20th to 16th, possibly reflecting the move of University of Limerick into the QS top 500. It could also, however, be a result of continued increases in the numbers of students being accepted into third-level colleges in response to growing school-leaver numbers.
While such moves may improve placement in rankings like this, higher education chiefs have cautioned about their ability to cater for more students due to continued budget constraints.
On this question, Ireland’s system is ranked 33rd of the 50 countries compared, unchanged from the previous year but improved from 36th in the previous two years.
The question of public spending in the sector is about to come into focus shortly, with plans to have the report of the Peter Cassells-chaired expert group on higher education funding reviewed by an Oireachtas committee.
The new QS ranking is topped by the United States, followed by Britain, Germany, Australia, and Canada, all maintaining the same positions as a year ago.
Journalist: Niall Murray