UCD has secured 11 top 100 rankings in the latest Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings by Subject, which were released last week. This year, the rankings featured 42 different subject categories. UCD was ranked under 39 of these. The top fifty universities in each subject are named, followed by rankings in bands of 50.
Veterinary Science was UCD’s highest scoring subject, ranking at 31st place. Last year, it was ranked in 40th place. In contrast, Development Studies dropped from 45th place in 2015 into the 51st-100th category. 11 subjects in the top 100 marks an increase from 9 subjects in 2015, and 7 in 2014.
UCD scored in the 51st-100th places for Archaeology, English Language and Literature, History, Modern Languages, Agriculture & Forestry, Nursing, Development Studies, Law, Politics & International Studies, and Social Policy and Administration.
Factors which influence the rankings include academic reputation, employer reputation, research citations per paper, and a “h-index” score. The h-index is designed to measure the “productivity and impact of the published work of a scientist or scholar.” This is then weighted differently based on how prevalent publications and citations are in each subject.
At a national level, Irish universities secured six rankings in the top 50, including four from Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and one from University College Cork (UCC). TCD’s highest ranking was for Nursing at 31st place, while UCC also ranked high in 34th place for Nursing.
However, the news has been overshadowed by allegations TCD attempted to sway rankings. It is claimed that TCD sent out emails to inform academics and alumni that QS and Times Higher Education were sending out reputation surveys for their rankings research. The Irish Times said it had seen a letter from John J Boland, Vice-President and Dean of Research at TCD, which detailed how academics could become QS reviewers for the rankings. Rather than operate on an invitation-only basis like some of the other organisations, QS allows individuals to nominate themselves to take part in rankings surveys. The matter is currently being discussed between QS and TCD.
This is not the first time an Irish university has found itself in trouble with QS. UCC was at the centre of controversy in 2013 over a similar incident. Michael B. Murphy, president of UCC, wrote a letter to staff calling on them to get academics from other universities to help raise UCC’s rankings by registering to take part in reputations surveys for universities.
- Cian Carton, News Editor