It’s Official: UCD crowned The Sunday Times University of the Year 2020

With the recent announcement of UCD as The Sunday Times University of the Year 2020, Mark Jackson takes a look at how The Sunday Times came to this conclusion.

UCD has been named The Sunday Times University of the Year 2020 as part of The Sunday Times Good University Guide. This is the third time UCD has been awarded the title, and it is UCD’s most recent win since 2012. The Good University Guide was published on the 3rd of November this year. For the guide, The Sunday Times analysed the 2018 Irish Survey of Student Engagement (ISSE) and ranked UCD the highest of all the universities in Ireland in terms of student satisfaction.

The Times ranking is different to other rankings such as The World University Ranking in that it analyses the ISSE, a direct insight into how students feel about their own institutions. The ISSE is a survey which institutions all over the country encourage students to take part in and analyses student engagement, classified by the Higher Education Authority as “the extent to which students actively avail of opportunities to involve themselves in educationally beneficial activities” and how institutions enable this.

The data for the guide, published earlier this month, was organised by ranking universities according to marks scored in eight crucial performance areas including student satisfaction and progression rate. Student satisfaction was measured with scaled scores out of 60 points across 9 areas of student experience such as learning strategies and student-faculty interaction, to name but two. These were then averaged to get a scaled score for each institution and converted to a maximum possible score, with UCD receiving a score of 126, along with NUIG and IADT. UCD, however, received a total ranking higher than either of these two institutions.

Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology and Athlone Institute of Technology were the only institutions to surpass this score with scores of 127 and 129 respectively. These are institutes of technology, not universities, which means UCD, NUIG and IADT are the highest-ranking universities on the island in terms of student satisfaction. Trinity College Dublin’s student satisfaction score was seven points lower than UCD’s with a score of 119.

In reaction to UCD being named The University of the Year, Professor Andrew Deeks and President of UCD had this to say: “It is a confirmation of what we’ve seen through our strategic planning process, in terms of the progress that the university has made over the last five years”. Commenting on UCD’s appeal to prospective applicants, editor of The Sunday Times Good University Guide, Alastair Mc Call said: “University College Dublin makes a compelling case to third level applicants with its relentless focus on the student experience.”