Actually, Irish universities are really outstanding.

dataIrish universities are world class. Really. So says the Shanghai rankings, the ones that perhaps are most heavily weighted against the strengths of Irish unis. How do we know? Well the 2013  rankings season kicks off with the Shanghai Academic Rankings. Expect mutterings along the lines of “sure its terrible, we have no universities in the top 100 of the Shanghai rankings” and “bloody academics, useless, wastes of money, look no Irish university in the top 100, world class me eye” and so on. No doubt similar wailing will happen when the THES rankings come out, with slightly different metrics.

Lets leave aside the peculiarities of rankings. Lets leave aside the odd rankings methodology of Shanghai which is very very heavily skewed towards a particular set of sciences. Lets look at the big picture.

There are approx 12000 universities in the world  , defined as one that have some web presence. In the 2013 Shanghai data TCD comes in in the 200-300 region, UCD and UCC in the 300-400. Thats three universites in the “top” 3%. They have been there since 2011 so this is consistent. In the broader based Times Higher we have TCD at 110 and UCD at 187, two in the top 200 or top 2%.

Question : how many Irish institutions, public or private are consistently ranked by peers, customers, and input providers as being in the top 2% of their peers in the world?

Answers on a postcard please.

12 thoughts on “Actually, Irish universities are really outstanding.

  1. Brian Mulligan

    When I was at UCD I used to sit in lectures and think – “there must be a better way to learn than this”. (and there was) It was in the top 100 until recently. What must it be like at the other places?

  2. Pingback: Ninth Level Ireland » Blog Archive » Actually, Irish universities are really outstanding

  3. Rob Kitchin (@RobKitchin)

    There is a very odd perception re. Irish universities and their performance that looks the wrong way down the telescope. I’ve tried the argument above with RTE and others, also pressing that if we were to standardize the rankings by resourcing and staff-student ratios, etc, that the picture would be even more positive. Off-air or out-of-print they seem to agree. But it seems there is little apetite for seeing this as a good news story. Not being in the top 100 is all that matters, rather all 7 Irish universities being in the top 450 on the various rankings, meaning that all of them are in the top 5%. We have the same story with the ‘under-performing at getting EU funding’. In fact, we do not under-perform. We are approx 1% of EU population and we draw down c.1% of research funds.

    1. Roger O'Keeffe

      The meeja are so in love with themselves as the real alternative to a discredited parliamentary opposition that they have now taken to behaving just like a parliamentary opposition, rooting around for something to criticise, however marginal, and then blowing this up into the main issue.

  4. artied

    Your analysis would be further enhanced by noting that this republic’s population amounts to less than 0.1% of the global population and so scores disproportionately well….

  5. kevin denny

    What other institutions could be compared.? Say we had the 17th best civil service in the world. How could we possibly know that? Likewise hospitals & other public sector institutions. Universities are unusual in their international exposure because of students, research etc which permits some, albeit imperfect, kind of international comparison.

  6. cormacc

    Another little pointer is that students with a first or a 2.1 from Irish universities get accepted into the top postgrad schools in the world, from Harvard to Stanford. This is because the top universities themselves consider the Irish degrees to be of a good and uniform standard. This is not true of universities many other countries, inclusing the US itself


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