The October 8th post has been republished in University World news
Richard Holmes21 October 2016 Issue No:433
“Notwithstanding these combined achievements the cuts in funding and increased investments made by our global competition, continue to have a direct impact on the rankings. Trinity is battling against intense international competition, particularly from Asian universities and from certain European countries where governments are investing heavily in higher education. The continued reduction in government investment in Irish universities has impacted negatively on the international standing of our universities and our ability to compete in a global arena.”“Trinity’s top 100 position globally and top 30 in Europe is remarkable in the context of its reduced income. Trinity’s annual budget per academic is 45% lower than that of the average university in the world top 200. It is to the credit of Trinity’s dedicated teaching and research staff that the University continues to maintain its global position against such challenges.”
“As a knowledge economy we need an excellent competitive education system. Trinity remains a world leading research-intensive university and the knowledge and innovation created are critical for the economic development of Ireland.”I pointed out in 2015 that TCD had been steadily rising in the Shanghai ARWU rankings since 2004, especially in the Publications indicator (papers in the Science Citation Index and the Social Science Citation Index) and PCP (productivity per capita, that is the combined indicator scores divided by the number of faculty). This year, TCD's publication score again went up very slightly from 31 to 31.1 and the PCP quite significantly from 19 to 20.8, compared to top scores of 100 for Harvard and Caltech respectively.
'The continued slide of the Irish Universities in the QS World University Rankings should be greeted with alarm. Strenuous efforts on the part of the universities has resulted in strong performance on some measures in the rankings such as those relating to research citations and internationalisation of the staff and student cohort. Unfortunately, this good work is being undermined by the negative impact of underfunding on key indicators such as the student:faculty ratio. The latter is highly influential in scoring in the QS rankings.
It would also appear likely that almost a decade of austerity is spilling over into the reputational component of the rankings, with consequent negative repercussions. IUA Chief Executive, Ned Costello said: “we can no longer hide from the corrosive effect which years of cutbacks are having on our higher education system. At a time when we are more dependent than ever on the talent of our people for our economic future, we simply must invest in our universities. An immediate injection of funding is required in the upcoming Budget and Estimates to fund more lecturers, deliver smaller group teaching and restore quality in our system.” 'The decline of TCD and and UCD in the QS and THE rankings cannot reasonably be attributed to any real deficiencies on the part of those universities. A decline in the number of lecturers would have a negative effect on the faculty student metric but would help indicators scaled for faculty size. The alleged decline is largely a consequence of methodological changes and adjustments, the instability resulting from the influx of new universities and growing ranking sophistication in other places.