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Education Minister Ruairí Quinn Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Quinn says no to 'narrow focus' on university performance

The Times Higher Education world reputation rankings failed to feature an Irish university – but the Education Minister indicated this is not a cause for concern.

THE ABSENCE OF an Irish university in the Times Higher Education world reputation rankings is not a cause for concern, the Education Minister has indicated.

Minister Ruairí Quinn was asked by Deputy Robert Troy in a recent parliamentary question if the fact the recent ranking failed to feature an Irish university is a cause for concern and how he intends to address this continuing fall in rankings among Irish universities.

Minister Quinn said:

There is significant debate around the relative importance attached to rankings criteria and on their capacity to fully capture the quality of what is on offer in higher education institutions. The Times Higher Education world reputation rankings are a new set of rankings in its second year and are based on reputational surveys only.

He continued that “the catastrophic reputational damage caused to Ireland by the inept economic management of the previous Fianna Fáil – Green Party government is perhaps the most influential factor affecting Ireland’s international reputation”.

Minister Quinn said that the current Government “has embarked on a conscious strategy to improve our reputation abroad since taking office”.

Despite some decline, Irish universities continue to figure prominently in world rankings, continued the Minister, saying that Irish institutions are featuring in the top 1 per cent in the world.

In 2011, two Irish institutions were in the top 200 and another three in the top 400 Times Higher Education World University ranked institutions out of some 15,000 universities worldwide. Moreover, the overall performance of the Irish system was highly ranked; 17th place overall and 6th place globally relative to our GDP.

Minister Quinn concluded that delivering high-quality higher education within the government’s current resources “will mean that we need to maintain a clear focus on system performance overall rather than a narrower focus on individual institutional performance”.

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