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Trinity accused of breaking university ranking rules after asking graduates to complete survey

The university had contacted graduates and staff to request that they take part in surveys by university ranking institutions.

TRINITY COLLEGE DUBLIN (TCD) has been accused of violating rules aimed at protecting the accuracy of a leading world university rankings.

The university contacted graduates and staff last week to ask that they complete questionnaires sent out by ranking producers such as QS and Times Higher Education.

The email included a link to sign up for a survey used by QS to assess academic reputation.

“Each response these rankings agencies receive helps to build a clearer picture of a university’s international reputation and helps maintain the prestige of a university’s graduates,” John Boland, vice president and dean of research, wrote in the message.

Capture

(Can’t read the email? Click here.)

A spokesperson for QS told TheJournal.ie that the agency considered the letters to be in breach of its guidelines.

PR head Simona Bizzozero said a note on the QS website clearly stated: “It is not permitted, to solicit or coach specific responses from expected respondents to any survey contributing to any QS ranking.”

She said the agency will be reviewing the case and discussing potential consequences with advisors over the coming days.

Bizzozero added: “TCD’s communication has not had any influence on the surveys for 2016 … and we are in good time, to discard any registrations on our sign-up facility that attribute themselves to TCD.

“We think that the saddest part of this affair is that a prestigious institution such as TCD felt the need to execute such a campaign, overlooking the potential damage to its solid reputation as a world top-100 university held in high regard around the world.”

Regret

TCD has seen its standing fall in a number of recent global university rankings. In the last QS rankings, it slipped from joint 71st to 78th place.

In a statement, the university said it regularly provided updates to the wider Trinity community and regretted that this particular letter had “caused any concern”.

It said the messages were sent in good faith and were at no time intended to influence the response of the recipients.

“Our graduates are proud to come from a highly ranked university and it makes it easier for them to get a job when they graduate,” it said.

TCD added that Times Higher Education confirmed to university authorities that they had no issues with the emails sent to graduates and staff.

“At all times, we respect the integrity of the rankings agencies in their collation of data in informing the annual global rankings,” the university said.

Read: Sexual consent workshops to be compulsory for new TCD students

Read: How Lucinda and Averil clashed over abortion as students more than a decade ago

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Catherine Healy

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