Trinity finishes bottom in more categories than it is top in new Good University Guide

Despite this, Trinity still ranked as the top university on the third level league table

Trinity has been ranked at the bottom of more categories than it is top, in the new Good Universities Guide 2019, compiled by The Sunday Times. According to the rankings, “Trinity College Dublin is bottom of the heap in more categories – effective teaching practices and quality of interactions – than it is top, in higher learning order.

Despite this, Trinity ranked first on the separate league table again this year, as it did in 2018. This year the rankings placed added weight on student satisfaction, with it constituting 25% of the total score. However, Trinity’s student satisfaction score amounted to less than 50% of the possible 250 points, at 122. This score was formed through scaled points provided by students in the various institutions in order to find an average total score.  

Alongside this, Trinity saw the highest score for Leaving Certificate points, with a score of 131 from a possible 150. This was determined by looking at the median Leaving Certificate points achieved by honours degree entrants in each university.

Trinity also saw the highest scores for the categories of research and facilities spending, with College scoring the highest possible 100 points on each. These scores were decided based on the comparison of research funding won to the equivalent number of full time staff and expenditure per full time equivalent (FTE) student.

It also scored highly in its employability, seeing a points tally amounting to 97 out of 100. However, this was in line with the vast majority of institutions, all of which scored above 90 points, except Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT). These rankings were decided based on the percentage of graduates in employment nine months after leaving the institution.

Trinity saw a score of student to staff ratios standing at 57 out of a total 100. This score was considerably low on the table, despite remaining higher than both University College Cork (UCC) and University of Limerick (UL). This was determined by the amount of full time undergraduate students in proportion to the number of full time teaching staff.  

The rankings saw 36,000 students take part, out of a total of 132,000 students in higher education being eligible to contribute to the table. This is also the first year in which student data has not just been amassed in the Irish Survey of Student Engagement (ISSE) with the resultant data being used in sector level reports, with its recent inclusion in the rankings.  

Commenting on these results, the Sunday Times noted that “only Trinity College Dublin seems unaffected [by the scoring changes]. The addition of new student satisfaction data and the reduction in the influence of entrants’ Leaving Certificate points have done nothing to affect its seemingly impregnable position at the top of the Sunday Times rankings”.

The rankings also evaluated English institutions, with Cambridge receiving the maximum 1000 points, and Oxford finishing second with a total 971 points. Cambridge also saw itself ranked top in 29 of 67 subject areas, with Oxford placing first in six areas.

University of Limerick was awarded the Good University of the Year 2019 title, with University College Dublin (UCD) in second place. This is the second time UL has been awarded this title, with the university winning previously in 2014. Trinity and all other Irish universities has also won the title once, with UCC winning the award five times.

Blanchardstown Institute of Technology, Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), and Tallaght Institute of Technology (ITT) were the three recipients of the Institute of Technology of the Year award.

Maynooth University dropped in the rankings to 12th place, falling below five ITs. It was noted in the rankings as the “most notable feature of this edition of the rankings”. This is only the fourth year that a university has ranked below an IT, with the first occurrence in 2016.

Commenting on UL’s ranking, the Sunday Times said that the college had “an academic reputation to match the best in Ireland”. The rankings also recognised its “hugely positive student experience” and “established co-operative work experience programme that translates into distinctly employable graduates”.

Shane De Rís also spoke about Trinity in the Sunday Times, noting a first impression of Trinity that causes “a feeling of awe then a very welcoming atmosphere”. He recognised that Trinity’s worst feature is its bureaucracy, which he noted “can at times be a bit trying”. He described Trinity’s facilities as “adequate, with many new buildings coming online soon”. He concluded by saying that “the collegiality between academics, staff, and students creates a community”.  

These rankings come at a time when Trinity is undergoing development, with the building of its E3 Institute of Engineering, Energy, and Environment, which was funded by “a record breaking donation of €25 million. It is also awaiting the opening of the new Trinity Business School, which will be opened at the beginning of the next academic year.

This ranking follows Trinity’s fall in a number of rankings, which was seen most recently in the Times Higher Education (THE) Global Rankings. College fell to 120th globally, while still remaining the highest placed Irish university in the rankings. However, Trinity’s performance increased in four of the five categories used to assess the universities.

Trinity also fell in this year’s QS world rankings. College saw a drop of 16 places to 104th globally, while also remaining as Ireland’s highest ranked university. Second to Trinity, UCD ranked 193rd, with NUIG ranking in third place at 260th.

Trinity was also ranked by THE as the ninth most beautiful university in the world earlier this year for its “cobblestone walkways” and “18th century architectural gems”, along with the Long Room in the Old Library.

Peter Kelly

Peter Kelly is a current Deputy News Editor of Trinity News. He is a Senior Fresh Law student, and a former Senior Reporter.