Ranking season is upon us with the QS rankings of subject areas (not, as is commonly though, Departments) now revealed. Again we find that despite the hype Irish universities are stronger in Arts and Humanities than in the STEM areas. This is in stark contrast to the financial flows to these areas and in even starker contrast to the government and regulatory thrust. Evidence of sustained internationally recognised quality in the AHSS (arts, humanities and social science) area does not translate into funding, support or recognition. Perhaps its time it did?
QS rankings are a mixture of reputation (derived from surveys of academics and employers) and excellence (measured in the main by scientific output). They provide ranking for each subject area. We now have data since 2011. Subjects from 1-50 are given individual ranks thereafter it is in undifferentiated bands of 50, say 151-200. To get a sense of how the areas rate I assigned each university subject to its rank (if in the top 50) or to the midpoint of the band. If we average the ranks thus given by AHSS and STEM subjects across each year we see the below. Note that the ranks for the universities so given here will not be the same as the QS overall scores. Those are for the institution as a whole.
It is very clear that across the system as a whole AHSS subjects are seen in higher international regard than are STEM.
Across the disciplines we see the following rankings, again 2011-2015 averages
|Accounting & Finance||175||95||115|
|Art and Design||75|
|Business and Management||125||125|
|Communication & Media Studies||175|
|Earth & Marine Science||175||125||175||175|
|Economics & Econometrics||85||105|
|English Language & Literature||175||142||26||158||70||175|
|Pharmacy & Pharmacology||175||88||131||175|
|Politics & International Studies||175||41||85|
|Statistics and OR||175|
AHSS courses are cheaper to run than the STEM courses. But one might wonder if perhaps some additional investment in these cheaper courses might not pay rich dividends in terms of rankings, and from same in terms of perceptions around the irish higher education sector.