How good are Irish University Subject Areas ?

So the 2016 QS subject rankings are out.  There has been a mild controversy about TCD communications with people who might respond to the survey on which much of the ranking is rated, but nonetheless the story overall is worth examining.

QS rankings are a mixture of reputation (derived from surveys of academics and employers – do you rate these places and would you hire from these places, in effect) and excellence (measured in the main by scientific output). They provide ranking for each subject area not for each department. We now have data since 2011. Subjects from 1-50 are given individual ranks by QS  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.

First, as has been the case for some time Irish universities AHSS areas are ranked higher in quality than the STEM. I have written before about our national obsession with STEM courses when the evidence is strong and consistent that our third level quality lies disproportionally in the AHSS areas. I am blue in the face from noting that given the vast sums provided to STEM it is quite astonishing how well AHSS performs. Of the 29 areas in which Irish universities were ranked in the top 100 20 are in AHSS

2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Overall
MAY   150 150 100 125 267 245
AHSS 150 150 100 125 175 143
STEM 450 450
DCU 125 175 175 175   213 186
AHSS 175 175 200 188
STEM 125 175 175 175 225 183
DIT 175         363 338
STEM 175 363 338
NCAD         75 75 75
AHSS 75 75 75
NUIG 155 158 150 175 150 234 196
AHSS 125 150 175 150 200 178
STEM 155 175 150 175 150 247 205
RCSI     175     350 263
STEM 175 350 263
TCD 69 85 93 99 102 102 91
AHSS 61 74 74 80 82 84 79
STEM 77 98 116 125 127 125 105
UCC 143 145 130 140 142 174 152
AHSS 75 150 115 125 150 181 152
STEM 150 142 142 150 137 171 152
UCD 110 137 123 127 128 134 125
AHSS 80 131 102 107 103 113 105
STEM 133 147 146 148 150 155 144
UL     175 175   265 246
AHSS 175 175 233 201
STEM 313 313

Second,  if we examine top 100 placements, we find again that the consistent story is of AHSS dominance. The table below shows the number of subject areas by year ranked in the top 100. While we cant fetishise any number , a ranking in the top 100 is an indication of worldwide agreement on quality being high.

2011  2012 2013 2014 2015  2016
Accounting & Finance 1 2 2
Agriculture 1 1 1
Archeology 1
Architecture 1
Art and Design 1 1
Biological Sciences 1 1 3 1 1 1
Chemistry 1 1 1 1 1
Computer Science 1 2 1 1
Development Studies 1 1
Economics & Econometrics 2 1 2 1
Education 1 1 1
Engineering – civil 2
Engineering – E&E 1 1
Engineering – Mechanical 2
Enginering – Chemical 1
English Language & Literature 2 2 2 3 2 2
Geography 2 1 2 1 2 1
History 2 2 2 2 2 2
Law 3 1 2 3 2 2
Material Science 1
Mathematics 1 1
Medicine 1 1 1 1 1
Modern Languages 1 1 3 3 2 2
Nursing 3
Performing Arts 1
Pharmacy & Pharmacology 1 1 2 2
Philosophy 2 1 1 1
Physics 1 1
Politics & International Studies 2 1 2 2 2 1
Psychology 2 1 1 1 1
Social Policy 2
Sociology 2 1 1 1
Veterinary Science 1

Third, 54 subject areas exist in which Irish universities were ranked in 2011 and in 2016. Examining these gives us a sense of how the percieved quality of Irish higher education has changed over time. Only 4 – Psychology and Electrical and Electronic Engineering in UCD, Modern Languages and Politics in TCD – show improvements. The great majority show declines. On a national level AHSS fields show a smaller decline than STEM. This is starkest in TCD where AHSS have fallen by 18 while STEM by 73.

Fourth, some breakthroughs seem to have been made in the areas of computer science. We now have all 8 universities with computer science ranked in the top 500 – when you consider that there are tens of thousands of universities worldwide we might want to pause for some quite celebration here.

Fifth, on average the top 5 ranked subject areas in AHSS are English Language and Literature , Politics and International Studies, History and Modern Languages in TCD and Development Studies in UCD. The top ranked STEM are Veterinary and Nursing in UCD, Nursing in UCC, Nursing in TCD and Biological Sciences in TCD.

Sixth, there is clear evidence of a decline from the top; TCD and UCD have both fallen hard. Looking below at the average rank of all areas this is clear.  Nor is there much evidence of pickup from the lowerranked.

Values MAY DCU DIT NCAD NUIG RCSI TCD UCC UCD UL
2011 125 175 155 69 143 110
2012 150 175 158 85 145 137
2013 150 175 150 175 93 130 123 175
2014 100 175 175 99 140 127 175
2015 125 75 150 102 142 128
2016 267 213 363 75 234 350 102 174 134 265

 

 

Full data here (sortable)

Department Area Institution 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
English Language & Literature AHSS TCD 32 14 28 25 32 32
Politics & International Studies AHSS TCD 50 45 31 46 33 43
History AHSS TCD 39 38 33 48 39 75
Modern Languages AHSS TCD 75 75 42 42 49 39
Development Studies AHSS UCD 45 75
Geography AHSS TCD 75 40 75 75 75 75
English Language & Literature AHSS UCD 75 49 75 75 75 75
Social Policy AHSS TCD 75
Social Policy AHSS UCD 75
Performing Arts AHSS TCD 75
Law AHSS TCD 75 75 75 75 75 75
History AHSS UCD 75 75 75 75 75 75
Art and Design AHSS NCAD 75 75
Architecture AHSS UCD 75
Archeology AHSS UCD 75
Psychology AHSS TCD 48 75 75 75 75 125
Sociology AHSS TCD 48 75 75 125 125 75
Philosophy AHSS TCD 75 75 125 125 75 75
Law AHSS UCD 75 125 125 75 75 75
Economics & Econometrics AHSS TCD 75 75 75 75 125 125
Modern Languages AHSS UCD 175 75 75 75 75
Education AHSS TCD 75 125 125 75 75
Politics & International Studies AHSS UCD 75 125 75 75 75 175
Law AHSS UCC 75 125 75 75 125 125
Geography AHSS UCD 75 125 75 125 75 125
Accounting & Finance AHSS TCD 75 125 75 75 125 125
Economics & Econometrics AHSS UCD 75 125 75 125 125 125
Modern Languages AHSS UCC 125 75 75 125 175
Sociology AHSS UCD 75 125 125 175 125 125
Psychology AHSS UCD 75 175 125
Business and Management AHSS TCD 125 125
Accounting & Finance AHSS UCD 125 125 75 75 175 175
Philosophy AHSS UCD 75 125 125 175 175
Linguistics AHSS TCD 175 125 125 125 125
Geography AHSS MAY 125 125 125 125 175
Linguistics AHSS UCD 175 125 125
History AHSS NUIG 125 125 175
Law AHSS NUIG 125 175
English Language & Literature AHSS MAY 175 175 75 175
Business and Management AHSS UCD 125 175
Education AHSS UCD 175 175 175 125 125
English Language & Literature AHSS UCC 175 125 175 175
Sociology AHSS NUIG 175
Politics & International Studies AHSS DCU 175
Modern Languages AHSS DCU 175
History AHSS UCC 175
Geography AHSS UCC 175 175 175
English Language & Literature AHSS NUIG 175 175
Communication & Media Studies AHSS DCU 175
Accounting & Finance AHSS NUIG 175
Education AHSS UCC 125 175 250
Modern Languages AHSS UL 175 175 225
English Language & Literature AHSS UL 175 225
Education AHSS UL 175 250
English Language & Literature AHSS DCU 225
Education AHSS NUIG 250
Veterinary Science STEM UCD 31
Nursing STEM TCD 31
Nursing STEM UCC 34
Biological Sciences STEM TCD 75 75 75 75 48 75
Nursing STEM UCD 75
Material Science STEM TCD 75
Engineering – Mechanical STEM UCC 75
Agriculture STEM UCD 75 75 75
Chemistry STEM TCD 36 75 75 125 75 75
Medicine STEM TCD 75 75 75 75 75 125
Pharmacy & Pharmacology STEM TCD 125 75 75 75 75
Computer Science STEM TCD 125 75 75 125 75 125
Computer Science STEM UCD 75 75 125 125 125 125
Physics STEM TCD 49 75 125 125 175 125
Biological Sciences STEM UCC 125 125 75 125 125 125
Pharmacy & Pharmacology STEM UCC 125 175 175 49 75
Mathematics STEM TCD 15 75 175 175 175
Enginering – Chemical STEM UCD 75 125 125 125 125 175
Enginering – Chemical STEM NUIG 125
Engineering – E&E STEM UCC 125 125 125 125 125 125
Earth & Marine Science STEM TCD 125
Engineering – E&E STEM TCD 75 75 125 175 175 175
Engineering – civil STEM UCD 75 125 125 125 175 175
Biological Sciences STEM UCD 125 175 75 175 125 125
Engineering – Mechanical STEM TCD 75 125 125 175 175 175
Engineering – Mechanical STEM NUIG 125 175
Engineering – E&E STEM UCD 175 175 175 125 125 125
Chemistry STEM UCD 125 175 175 175 125 125
Medicine STEM UCD 125 125 175 175 175 175
Mathematics STEM UCD 125 175 175
Environmental Science STEM TCD 125 125 175 125 175 225
Environmental Science STEM UCC 125 125 175 125 175 225
Engineering – civil STEM TCD 75 175 175 175 175 175
Computer Science STEM NUIG 175 125 125 225
Statistics and OR STEM UCD 175 175 175 175
Physics STEM UCD 175 175 175 175 175 175
Pharmacy & Pharmacology STEM NUIG 175 175
Pharmacy & Pharmacology STEM UCD 175 175
Metallurgy STEM UCD 175
Medicine STEM NUIG 175
Medicine STEM UCC 175 175 125 175 175 225
Mathematics STEM UCC 175
Material Science STEM UCD 175 175
Environmental Science STEM UCD 125 175 175 225
Enginering – Chemical STEM UCC 175 175 175 175 175
Earth & Marine Science STEM NUIG 175 175 175
Earth & Marine Science STEM UCD 175 175 175 175
Earth & Marine Science STEM UCC 175 175
Chemistry STEM DCU 125 175 225
Agriculture STEM NUIG 175
Computer Science STEM DCU 175 175 225
Chemistry STEM UCC 175 225
Biological Sciences STEM NUIG 175 225
Engineering – Mechanical STEM UCD 175 250
Physics STEM UCC 175 275
Engineering – E&E STEM DIT 175 275
Engineering – E&E STEM NUIG 175 275
Computer Science STEM UCC 225
Engineering – Mechanical STEM UL 250
Medicine STEM RCSI 175 350
Environmental Science STEM NUIG 275
Chemistry STEM NUIG 275
Mathematics STEM NUIG 350
Computer Science STEM UL 375
Computer Science STEM DIT 450
Computer Science STEM MAY 450

 

Advertisements

One thought on “How good are Irish University Subject Areas ?

  1. Pingback: Ninth Level Ireland » Blog Archive » How good are Irish University Subject Areas?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s