UCD score second-worst University on Integrity Index 2021

Image Credit: Dominic Daly

University College Dublin have scored second to last out of eight universities evaluated on their compliance in mobilisation against corruption.

The university scored 38% overall, beating Technological University Dublin by 2%, who achieved the lowest amongst higher education institutions, with 36%. The aim of the research is to determine the “overall robustness of a country’s institutions and systems when it comes to prevention of corruption.” The average overall score across five key indicators was 43%. 

In a report launched on November 11th by Transparency International Ireland, University College Dublin was evaluated on its overall compliance and transparency in areas including whistleblowing policies and open governance. The data, which was gathered over the summer months, targeted 30 organisations from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) Register of Public Sector Bodies. This included universities across the country. Their scores are outlined below: 

UniversityRating (%)
Dublin City University (DCU) 57
National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG)57
Trinity College Dublin (TCD)56
University College Cork (UCC)52
University of Limerick (UL)52
Maynooth University 39
University College Dublin (UCD)38
Technological University Dublin (TUD)36

UCD scored second to last with respect to educational institutions, and came 19th of 30 organisations. The study, entitled National Integrity Index 2021, focused on semi-state bodies and universities in Part 1 of their public sector bodies analyses. The report is inclusive of a wide range of organisations, including An Post, RTÉ and VHI Group DAC, alongside the eight universities as listed above.

Transparency International Ireland (TI Ireland) is the “Irish chapter of the worldwide movement against corruption.” The Integrity Index was published with the financial support of The Community Foundation for Ireland. Transparency Ireland states on their website that “TI Ireland is independent of government, politically non-partisan, and is not profit making. It will not accept any donation which might compromise its independence.” 

The risk of corruption can be determined by a number of factors. These were taken into consideration when deciding on what areas of an organisation to investigate. Areas that were focused on in this body of research included an institution’s inclusion of the following: anti-corruption and anti-bribery programmes, financial transparency, open governance, responsible political engagement and whistleblowing policies. In order to collect data, each individual organisation's website was searched for material that would be considered satisfactory for the 30 indicators included in the investigation. One data was collected, a scoring system was used to determine the efficacy of a company’s policy. Full, half or no points were the three scoring options across the categories. 

UCD scored particularly poorly in their financial transparency, achieving 29%. Low scores in this category can be attributed to the lack of publicly available financial statements. UCD did not publish information on procurement procedures, despite public institutions (such as UCD) who are subject to Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation being advised that this type of publication be advisable. This includes contracts over €25,000, which should include “contract type, contractor, value and award date.” Transparency International Ireland said that “ there is no reason why such information should not be published by all public sector bodies.”

The worst section for UCD was responsible political engagement, where they scored 0%. Along with Trinity College Dublin, Technological University Dublin and 10 other organisations, UCD achieved no points in this category, making it the worst performing category across the board. This section measures an organisations’ transparency in activities such as “lobbying, funding of think tanks, and political contributions.” DCU, UCC and UL did score well above the average score of category which was 15%, with scores of 33% for all three universities. 

UCD ranked 17 out of 30 for the final category of whistleblowing policies, but lowest amongst universities. They achieved a score of 38%, with the highest performing university, DCU, achieving 75%. The Protected Disclosures Act 2014 requires public bodies to publish information on the number of protected disclosures received and actions taken. 

The report made recommendations for documents that the organisations would benefit from publishing widely accessible reports on topics such as codes of conduct, supplier due diligence, conflicts of interest and financial statements. TI Ireland argued that it is “not sufficient for public bodies to place the burden on the public to seek out governance-related platforms” and that “information should be made accessible online and in machine-readable format where possible.”