University College Dublin (UCD) remains one of the top 3 universities in Ireland in 2020, according to the latest QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) World University Rankings and the Sunday Times. 

The Sunday Times Irish Good University Guide 2021 places UCD 3rd in its national rankings, behind University College Cork (UCC). In 2019, UCD and UCC received a joint second place national ranking, with UCD being named The Sunday Times Irish University of the Year. 

The Sunday Times ranked universities across eight “key performance areas”: student experience, Leaving Certificate entry points, research, employment, percentage of 1:1 or 2:1 degrees achieved, student-staff ratio, student progression rate, and spending on facilities or services. 

UCD achieved 718 points overall across these categories, 9 points fewer than UCC. It ranked joint third in graduate employment with Dublin City University, University of Limerick, and Institute of Technology Tralee. UCD ranked 4th in student experience, with Athlone Institute of Technology achieving first place in the category. 

The Sunday Times attributes UCD’s new lower ranking to “a drop in per capita research funding in our latest analysis of income”. The university is ranked 3rd overall in the research income category.

The Sunday Times notes that 75% of honours degrees earned at UCD are a first or a 2:1. 92% of students at the university progress to their second year. 

The Times’ rankings also seek comments from each university’s student union. Conor Anderson, president of UCDSU, told the Sunday Times “I am not certain I would advise a would-be applicant to pursue an education at UCD. If they have been offered a good amount of funding, or they are interested in a programme that doesn’t exist elsewhere, then I would say consider it.” He cited insufficient funding for libraries and student services, along with increased commercialisation of the university, as reasons he would not recommend UCD. 

The QS rankings identify UCD as 177th highest ranked in the world in 2020, up eight places from 2019. This makes the university the second highest ranked in Ireland, behind Trinity College Dublin at 101st place. 

Similar to the Sunday Times’ ranking, the QS rankings score universities across several key performance indicators, including staff-student ratios, proportion of international staff, and academic reputation.

According to the Irish Times, in 2020 Irish universities improved most in academic reputation, based on the results of a global survey of academic staff, and performed best in “international faculty”, which measures the proportion of international staff working at a university.

Isobel Dunne – Reporter