Trinity temporarily removed from Times Rankings following data error

College submitted incorrect data which affects both 2015-16 and 2016-17 rankings

NEWSTrinity College Dublin has been temporarily removed from the Times Higher Education (THE) world university rankings. Phil Baty, editor of the THE rankings, has said: “we have been obliged to exclude Trinity College from this year’s ranking due to a unintentional submission error on their part, which is likely to have given them a lower ranking than would otherwise be the case.” The mistake affects the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 rankings. THE invoked its formal corrections procedure following the incorrect submission and intends to reward a new ranking to College later this year.

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. We have decided to take Trinity out of the rankings while we conduct a review of their data and, should it be necessary, recalculate their position for the past two years. No other university’s ranking position will be affected by this situation, under the terms of our corrections policy.”

It comes as Ireland’s eight other universities have failed to make the Top 200 in the THE rankings. UCD has fallen from 176th place in the 2015-16 rankings to join Trinity in the 201-250 bracket alongside NUIG and RCSI, which have climbed from the 251-300 bracket from last year. All other Irish universities remain in the same position as in last year’s rankings.

Baty continued: “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.”

The publication of the THE rankings follows Trinity’s fall of 20 places to 98th in the QS rankings earlier this month. 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.

Following the release of the THE rankings, Mike Jennings, General Secretary of the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) has called on Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton, to commit to an increase funding for Irish universities in advance of next month’s budget. “The toxic combination of financial cutbacks and staffing cuts enforced on universities by consecutive government over the past decade, despite rapidly increasing student numbers, is the root cause of the current malaise.” Jennings continued: “Between 2007 and 2014, state funding for our seven universities was slashed by 28%, from €722.8m in 2007 to €522.2m, while full-time student enrolment surged by 18%, from 78,577 in 2008 to 93,023 in 2014. The fact that two consecutive ratings reports within a month have revealed the same analysis of our universities leaves no doubt or wriggle room for Minister Bruton, he must act now if Ireland’s international reputation for high education standard is not to be seriously undermined.”

This year’s top 980 universities, representing 5% of the world’s higher education institutes, come from 79 different countries. The US loses the top spot for the first time in the 13-year history of the rankings, as the UK’s University of Oxford becomes 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.

Additional reporting by Sinéad Harrington.

Niamh Lynch

Niamh was Editor of the 65th volume of Trinity News. She is a History and Politics graduate.