University rankings

Rankings and league tables of universities are ubiquitous. While objections to their methodology are obvious and much debated, they are clearly a necessity as the starting-point for sifting through the vast amounts of data on university quality.

There is no official Irish government ranking of universities, and while there is a blizzard of official statistics about Irish universities, there is no very obvious way of turning them into a ranking – quality assurance mechanisms produce general assessments and suggestions for improvement, rather than producing a mark or score.

World rankings. There are a number of rankings which seek to identify leading universities world-wide. Different ranking use very different methodologies, and are indeed not asking the same questions (some are meant to inform those planning to take a degree, others seek to determine the degree of influence or prominence of faculty members in an international context). For lists of rankings and discussion, see: College and university rankings (Wikipedia).

Some frequently-cited rankings relevant to Ireland are:


See also: CRELL: critiquing global university rankings and their methodologies (GlobalHigherEd, 27 January 2009); IREG Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence; The Role and Relevance of Rankings in Higher Education Policymaking (IHEP, September 2009); University rankings don’t tell the whole story (Irish Times, 21 April 2009).