News, In Brief

Trinity brand lags behind global competitors

James Prendergast


No Irish university has been named in a top 100 list of the “most powerful global university brands” released by Times Higher Education. Trinity College Dublin is the highest placed Irish university according at about 200, with UCD, DCU and UCC coming in at about 300. No Irish university has made the top 100 in the four years since the survey began.

“This is a challenge for the Irish institutions. It is important because you need to stay competitive internationally, there is a risk of falling into a vicious circle, Phil Baty, editor of the Times Higher Education rankings, told The Irish Times.

In a statement to The Irish Times, Trinity College pointed out that it was ranked as Ireland’s leading university but that it competes against strong global competition, affecting its position in rankings.

The list, which is topped by Harvard University, is dominated by American and British Universities. Eight American universities and two British universities make up the top ten. The top 100 includes 46 universities from the US, 10 from the UK, 6 from Germany, 5 from Japan, 4 from the Netherlands, 3 each from Canada, South Korea and Hong Kong and 2 each from Switzerland, Singapore, China and France. The highest ranked university from outside the US and UK is the University of Tokyo at number 11.

While Times Higher Education conceded the list “is based on nothing more than subjective judgement” it said that “it is the considered expert judgement of senior, published academics – the people best placed to know the most about excellence in our universities.“A university’s good name is the prime consideration” for students”, while it is a “top consideration for academics when moving jobs”, according to Phil Baty.

Times Higher Education called the survey “the world’s largest invitation-only academic opinion survey”. It asked 10,536 academics to name what they thought were the top 15 institutions in their disciplines. A university’s reputation for research is given twice as much weight in the ranking as that for teaching.

25 per cent of survey responses came from North America and 19 per cent from Western Europe. 10 per cent came from Oceania compared with only 13 per cent from East Asia, 10 per cent from Eastern Europe, 5 per cent from the Middle East and 4 per cent from Latin America.

In the latest Times Higher Education overall university rankings Trinity College slipped 19 places to 129th.  However in the latest QS rankings it rose six places to 61st.


SoFia hosts French minister and diplomats

Radou Emilie


The Trinity Society for International Affairs hosted Minister Thierry Repentin (minister délégué chargé des affairs européennes), the French Ambassador to Ireland, Mr. Jean-Pierre Thébault, and the First Secretary to the French Embassy in Ireland, Ms. Marianne Ziss, last Monday at an event to celebrate the historic relationship between France and Ireland.

Speaking to students, Minister Repentin said that the burning Ukrainian issue was an indication of the far-reaching objectives of the European agenda yet to be realized regarding foreign policy. However, he stressed the importance of solidarity, which, in his own words, is

“the whole meaning of the economic and monetary Union”. He went on emphasise the importance of creating as many new jobs for Europe’s “new generation”. Other than economic solidarity, Repentin outlined the importance of environmental protection, and in particular of the need for a common energy strategy, with binding requirements, geared to lessening the overall greenhouse gas emissions.

On the whole, he proposed an optimistic view of Europe, underlying the necessity “to do more for the euro zone”, to “set up a government at the European level”. Acknowledging the skepticism that exists towards the European project, he also argued that nowadays, the problem is not so much the one of euro-skepticism but rather the one of “euro-ignorance”.


Cuts to capitated bodies likely to be reduced

Elaine McCahill


Following a meeting of the Capitations Committee last Tuesday, it has emerged that College is prepared to reduce the cut to the funding of the capitated committees to 3.75%. The capitated committees include the SU, the Dublin University Central Athletic Club (DUCAC), the Central Societies’ Committee (CSC), Publications and the Graduate Students’ Union (GSU).

Previously, there had been a planned 10% cut, with two annual cuts of 5% but the Capitations Committee protested against these cuts on the basis that the appropriate protocol had not been followed when passing the cuts.

It had previously been decided that the capitated bodies would not be allowed to drawn down the final quarter of their monies until the potential cuts had been finalised. As such, the funds available for the rest of the year will be minus 3.75% of the overall total the committees are individually allocated for the year.

In real terms, if the new figure is accepted by the capitated bodies, DUCAC will be cut by €13,267.50, the CSC by €13,437, the SU by €12,171.75, Publications by €1817.25 and the GSU by €2248.50.

As previously reported in Trinity News, the cuts had been decided during a meeting on the 26th June 2013 of the Planning Group, which meets fortnightly. The Planning Group is responsible for implementing and developing the Strategic Plan 2014-2019 of the College, though there is no student representation in the group. The Strategic Plan 2014-2019 is focused on attracting more students from outside Ireland.

Minutes from the June meeting under the heading “Planning Group Report No. 9” note that the College requires “further income to meet its expenditure,” but makes no mention of reductions to the budgets of the capitated bodies. Senior Dean Prof McGowan was neither at the meeting nor is he on the Planning Group. The cuts were disclosed in an email to the capitated bodies from Prof McGowan, who noted that he received “no formal notification of the decision” until the 14th of November, and that it was one of many financial decisions made during the June meeting under recommendation of the Planning Group.

In an interview with Trinity News in January, SU President Tom Lenihan refused to rule out the possibility of a student occupation if funding to the capitated bodies is cut.


Irish graduate salaries shrinking at a disproportionate rate

James Prendergast


Starting salaries for Irish graduates have fallen to 2004 levels, according to a new report from the Central Bank of Ireland.

After rising by 11.8 per cent from 2004 to 2007, the weighted average salary for graduates fell by 11.7 per cent to €23,777 in 2012. Graduate salaries have declined much more than pay in the overall economy, which shrank by 2 per cent in the four years to the third quarter of 2013.

Architecture students have suffered the worst declines, with salaries falling by 31% from 2007 to 2012. Next worst hit are graduates of the arts, humanities and social sciences whose salaries have fallen by 19.1 per cent to €19,748.  Agriculture and Science students also were hit by greater than average declines, with salaries tumbling since 2007 by 15.4 per cent and 12.9 per cent, respectively. Business and commerce graduates have fared best, suffering only a 5 per cent decline to €23,860 in 2012. The declines across the remaining faculties range between 7.7 and 11 per cent.

However employment growth in recent years for graduates has been slightly stronger than that of the economy as a whole. While graduate employment rose by an average of 2% annually between 2007 and 2013, overall employment declined by an average of 1% each year.

Half of the 58,000 rise in the numbers at work in the year to the third quarter of 2013 was accounted for by third level graduates. This concentration of employment gains among third level graduates, means that the decline in graduates salaries could “exert downward pressure on aggregate wages in the economy”, the Central Bank claims.

It suggests that the failure of wages to decline is responsible for high unemployment. “Although the evidence is not conclusive, theory suggests that a failure of nominal wages to adjust downwards could result in persistently high unemployment”, it says.

It claims that the greater reduction in graduate salaries here compared with France and the UK “points to an improvement” in Ireland’s “relative competitiveness position”.

According to the Higher Education Authority’s (HEA) graduate survey, the number of graduates in employment abroad doubled from 5 per cent in 2008 to 10 per cent in 2013. Last year a report conducted by University College Cork and the Irish Research Council found that 62 per cent of emigrants hold a third level qualification.


Unprecedented success for Cumann Gaelach at CSC awards

Johnny Byrne


An Cumann Gaelach swept the boards at the annual Central Societies’ Committee (CSC) Society of the Year awards last Wednesday in the Alexander Hotel. The Irish language society took home three awards, beating Food and Drink, Law Soc and Players to win best large society and also taking home the prestigious plaque for best overall society. Niamh Ní Chróinin, the society’s auditor, was presented with the award for individual of the year.

Speaking at the event, James Wilson, debates convenor for the society, praised Ní Chróinin for her stellar leadership and work-ethic throughout the year. He put the society’s success down in part to the solid foundation laid by previous committees and the advice the current committee received from Trinity’s Oifig na Gaeilge as well as Conradh na Gaeilge.

DU Players and An Cumann Gaelach stood out as the only societies to win in three categories. The award for the best fresher went to Ursula McGinn from Players and the society also won best poster, and best publication for ‘The Player’.

Trinity Arts Festival (TAF) scooped up the prize in the best event category for ‘Through the Looking Glass’. It beat ‘Jailbreak’, organised by Law Soc, VDP and Amnesty, and the Trinity Economics Forum to the award.

In the shortlist for the best small society, it was the Student Managed Fund that emerged victorious. Maths Soc won best medium society, and TTV took home the societies’ choice award.

The Society for International Affairs (SoFia) was deemed Trinity’s best new society at the event. This ambitious and already accomplished society’s schedule of events this year included an Aid and Trade Panel Discussion and a visit from the French Minister for European Affairs. JF Law and Political Science student Matthew Nuding, who was recently elected secretary of the society, said of SOFIA’s success: “SoFIA was an incredible society to have been involved with this year and the ‘Best New Society’ award is a true testament to the dedicated few behind all the fantastic events.”

The CSC awards serve to recognise excellence within Trinity’s vibrant landscape of over 120 student societies. CSC will soon select the societies which will represent Trinity at the national Board of Irish Societies Awards.