© Trinity News 2016
Trinity has placed in joint 131st position in the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings for the 2016-17 year. This follows Trinity submitting incorrect data for the 2016-17 and 2015-16 academic year. Trinity’s position for the 2015-16 academic year is joint 101st position.
In September, Trinity was temporarily removed from the rankings with THE invoking its formal corrections procedure.
In an email to Trinity News, Duncan Ross, data and analytics director, said: “During the aggregation of a huge volume of data such as this, although Times Higher Education uses a detailed series of quality control measures, there is inevitably scope for errors. We take errors such as this very seriously and use them to improve our data checking systems and processes.” He continued: “We have updated the rankings tables in line with our published corrections policy and no other institution’s ranking position has been affected by this change.”
In an official press release issued by College, dean of research Prof John Boland stated: “Trinity is delighted to have performed well in what is a very competitive ranking environment […] That said, we have still dropped 30 places in a single year. This amounts to a 30% drop in rank and crystallises the international headwinds facing the Irish university sector following a decade of neglect and chronic underfunding. If the Government expects excellence from the universities and the capacity to create the sort of skilled workforce needed in a post-Brexit world, it must begin to invest in education once again.”
Speaking at the time of the discovery of the initial error, Trevor Barratt, Times Higher Education managing director, said: “It appears to have been a simple human error, and our initial assessment is that it would have a material impact on Trinity’s position in our rankings, giving them a lower ranking than would otherwise be the case.”
Ireland’s eight other universities failed to make the top 200 in the THE rankings. UCD fell from 176th place in the 2015-16 rankings, with NUIG and RCSI placing in the 200-250 bracket, climbing from the 251-300 bracket where they placed last year. All other Irish universities remained in the same position as in last year’s rankings.
Speaking in September, Phil Baty, editor at THE said of Ireland’s performance: “This is bad news for Ireland; the country’s best universities are struggling. While the root of the problem is the increased competition among the world’s elite universities, particularly those in Asia, it seems clear that the major funding cuts endured by Ireland’s universities are causing problems. Most global attention will be focused on Ireland’s two flagship institutions – the global magnets for talent – and a strong message should go out that these institutions should be protected as national assets. Ireland is one of the lowest investors in higher education among all the OECD countries and you simply cannot sustain world-class universities on the cheap.”
Trinity also fell 20 places to 98th in the QS rankings in September. There has been much criticism of the lack of government funding for higher education since the publication of the QS Rankings in which all Irish universities featured fell from their previous positions, with the exception of NUIG.
This year’s top 980 universities, representing 5% of the world’s higher education institutes, came from 79 different countries. The US lost the top spot for the first time in the 13-year history of the rankings, as the UK’s University of Oxford became the world’s top university.
THE world rankings apply rigorous standards, using global benchmarks across all of a global research university’s key missions – teaching, research, knowledge transfer, and international outlook.