Thursday, October 8, 2009

Economics 08/10/2009: THE Rankings - World class to poor class

Times Higher Education 2009 world league table of Universities was published last week, confirm what all of us already know:
  • There is one world AAA class University in the country: Trinity College, that has risen from a respectable 49th place a year ago to 43th place in 2009 (peer review score=88 or relatively under performing for the peer group of top 50 universities, employer review score=96 good performance, staff/student score=72 average performance, citations/staff score=49 poor performance, international staff score=98 great performance, international students score=83 average performance, and overall score=80.1).
  • There is one world AA class university in the country: UCD, that has risen from 108th place in 2008 to 89th place this year (peer review score=72 - much poorer than TCD despite a major and sustained drive by UCD to improve research, employer review score=94 slightly lower than TCD but excellent performance overall, staff/student score=67 - a clear sign of funding shortfalls, citations/staff score=37 - very poor mark, suggesting little of influential research being performed, international staff score=95 very solid score, international students score=90 - an excellent score, but one wonders if it is a function of the various artificial exchange programmes sponsored by the EU, and overall score=69.7 - good score and good progress)
Not a single Irish University made it into Global 50 in the areas of:
  • Engineering & Information Technology;
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine;
  • Natural Sciences;
  • Social Sciences; or
  • Arts & Humanities.
What can we learn from the above scores for TCD:
  1. Knowledge economy in TCD is happening through teaching and much less through research - our research scores still have ways to go to match our overall score.
  2. Knowledge economy is driven, at least in top universities, by international nature of the faculties, not by indigenous talent - as expected for a small open economy. So recent tightening in Green Cards and spouses employment for non-EU workers is a travesty that can cost us dearly in the areas of research.
  3. Despite having fewer resources (staff/student ratios being one sign of this), TCD and UCD pair is still managing to outshine our 'Gateways of Excellence' across the country - those heavily subsidised 'junior' Unis and ITs.
  4. There is absolutely no evidence that focusing on sciences or biomedicine, or life sciences or any of the rest of 'hard' science disciplines is yielding any real excellence in either TCD or UCD as neither institution has made it into top 50 rankings by a single discipline.
More on the results later... stay tuned
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