Tightening of resources, funding issues and employment restrictions are taking their toll on the reputations of Irish universities.
Irish universities have failed to make the top 100 of the QS World University Rankings 2019, which the institutions attribute to cutbacks and a funding deficit.
They say that less funding as well as employment restrictions have a telling impact on areas such as academic recognition and citations per faculty, for example.
‘Irish universities are the engines of creativity and the producers of Ireland’s future top talent. The fall in rankings is a warning light to Government that the quality talent pipeline will be jeopardised unless the funding deficit is addressed’
– JIM MILEY
Trinity College Dublin, which was last year ranked 88th in the world, fell to 104th place this year.
University College Dublin slipped from 168th in the world to 193rd. NUI Galway dropped by 17 places to 260th. Dublin City University fell from 391st to 422nd and Dublin Institute of Technology fell from the 651-700 band to the 751-800 band.
University College Cork fell in the rankings to 338th place for 2019 from 283rd for 2018.
The only institutions to hold their rankings were the University of Limerick (between 511 and 520) and Maynooth University (701 to 750).
Reputational impact will hurt FDI
The performance was labelled “disappointing but not a surprise” by the Irish Universities Association (IUA), which said that this was the result of funding cuts over the years, which, while invisible in the short term, are now making their impact felt.
Jim Miley, director general of the IUA, railed that the ongoing capping of staff levels by Government under the Employment Control Framework, while student numbers have grown by a third, is now having a direct impact on Irish universities’ quality rankings.
He warned that this will have serious consequences over time and could affect Ireland’s competitiveness in the war for foreign direct investment (FDI).
“Irish universities are the engines of creativity and the producers of Ireland’s future top talent,” Miley said.
“The fall in rankings is a warning light to Government that the quality talent pipeline will be jeopardised unless the funding deficit is addressed. It’s time to stop delaying a decision on a proper funding model for Irish third-level education. The Government know what needs to be done and should now bite the bullet.
He added that there are serious concerns that a continued failure to address the third-level funding crisis will directly damage the Irish economy in future years.
“In its December 2017 report, the National Competitiveness Council, which advises the Taoiseach and his Government, stated bluntly that: ‘It is time to stop long-fingering a decision to close the funding gap in the higher education sector which poses a significant threat to our competitiveness rankings and FDI.’
“The latest QS rankings clearly highlight the dangers of continued inaction on our economic competitiveness,” Miley warned.
Updated, 8.58am, 7 June 2018: This article was updated to clarify that Trinity College Dublin fell to 104th place this year.