UCDSU ‘concerned’ about UCD’s fall in rankings

THE UCD Students’ Union has stated that it is very concerned about UCD’s recent drop in world university rankings and is willing to lobby university administration and the government on the issue if necessary.This comes after UCD fell significantly in two recently released sets of world university rankings. The Times Higher Education World Rankings, released at the end of September, saw UCD fall out of the top 200 after being ranked 176th in 2015. In the QS rankings released at the beginning of September, UCD was ranked 176, down 22 spots from last year’s rankings. This continues the steep downward trend in rankings over the last few years.The explanation for this drop in rankings has been placed on the large drop in public funding since the recession. Last month, Provost of Trinity Dr Patrick Prendergast and President of UCD Professor Andrew Deeks issued a joint statement calling on the Government to address the funding crisis that has lead to the drop in rankings. The statement said that this was “the inevitable result of under investment” and that these drops will have long term effects.Speaking to the Observer, UCDSU’s Education Officer Lexi Kilmartin agrees that the lack of funding for universities is a large factor in the university’s ranking drop. “We were constantly facing higher education funding cuts since the crash in 2008, it is a really big issue, particularly if we consider higher education a public good, which I think we should,” says Kilmartin.However, she points out that “that the argument does not necessarily hold when you have got the likes of NUIG increasing in their ranking.”Kilmartin went on to ask, “how can UCD, how can the Department of Education justify charging students fees for a University that is consistently dropping in rankings over the last few years?”NUIG rose over 20 places in the last year, from 271 to 249 in the QS rankings. In fact, despite the overall reduction in public funding over the last few years, NUIG’s QS ranking has risen for five consecutive years. Similarly, the drop in rankings has not been quite as steep for TCD as it has been for UCD; QS rankings show that TCD has dropped 55 places since 2009, while UCD has dropped 85 places in the same period.Kilmartin points out that factors such as UCD’s appeal to international students and staff to student ratios have contributed to UCD’s low ranking. “What is a major concern for the Union is that we were 47th in the world in 2013 for international students, we have now dropped to 231st.”While University rankings may seem abstract, Kilmartin points out that how the university stands internationally makes an impact on student’s potential job prospects and on the value of your degree.