UCD has dropped 28 places in this year’s Times Higher Education World University Rankings. Ranked at 159th in last year’s report, UCD is now joint with the University of Twente, Netherlands, in 187th place.

UCD garnered a higher score than last year, earning 47.9 points, a 2 point increase from the 2011/12 rankings. However, increased third-level funding in other countries has seen more significant increases in points, resulting in a drop in the overall ranks for UCD.


The past three years have seen a drop for UCD. Since breaking into the Top 100 in the world in 2010, UCD has seen a steady decline, from 94th to 159th, to this year’s rank of 187th. In the recently released Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World Universities Rankings for 2012/2013, UCD was ranked 131st, a three place increase from the 2011/2012 QS Rankings. However the Times rankings are well regarded as being more accurate.

Ireland’s only other entrant in the Top 200, Trinity College Dublin (TCD), moved up 7 places, from 117th in 2011/2012, to 110th place. The increase is still far from TCD’s ranking of 76th in the 2010/2011 report, and means for the second year in a row, Ireland has no university in the Top 100.

A delayed Higher Education Authority report, which was paused and condemned by the Department of Education and Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn, suggested that for Ireland to be able to compete at the upper end of these rankings, consolidating several universities may be the answer. The report also suggested that merging UCD and TCD would be Ireland’s best opportunity to break into the Top 50.

One trend evident is the Times’ Rankings was the emergence of Asian third-level institutes in the Top 200. Last year, 20 Asian institutes made the Top 200, 9 of which were ranked in Top 100, with the University of Tokyo (30), University of Hong Kong (34), National University of Singapore (40) and Peking University (49), all included in the Top 50.

This year’s report shows that 21 Asian third-level institutes now occupy places in the Top 200, with 11 ranked in the Top 100. The Pohang University of Science and Technology (50) brings the number in the Top 50 to 5.

The continued rise in the ranks for Asian third-level institutes is due to the increased funding received by the colleges. The trend is expected to continue over the next few years, while UCD and other Irish universities will most likely continue to struggle in the rankings due to further funding cuts, which are expected.

UCD President, Dr Hugh Brady has said it was “very disappointing to see our ranking position fall this year… Economic factors here are part of the reason, but we must also recognise that investment by universities in other countries is raising the level of competition internationally.”

The Times’ Higher Education World University Rankings are a major factor for researchers and investment companies when deciding where to spend their resources. The ratings factor in the teaching/learning environment (worth 30%), research (30%), citations (30%), industry income and innovation (2.5%), and International outlook (7.5%).

The California Institute of Technology (CalTec) was the number one ranked higher education institution, with Oxford University and Stanford University ranked 2nd and 3rd respectively, while Harvard has dropped to 4th place. All universities in the Top 10 are situated in the United States or United Kingdom.

Read: UCD-TCD merger condemned by Education Minister