Research shows a doubling of PhD graduates working in industry between 2000 and 2010

Trinity College Dublin in partnership with LinkedIn carried out an analysis of 11,000 PhD graduates from Irish universities over the last 20 years
Caoilfhionn Ni Dheorain (left) and Martha Nic Ionais from Coláiste Chillain in Dublin make final preparations for the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition at the RDS in Dublin. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA
Dr Diarmuid O’Brien
Wed, Jan 7, 2015, 00:02
First published: Wed, Jan 7, 2015, 00:02

This week there are 4,616 students at the BT Young Scientist exhibition who are demonstrating the depth of our national talent base.
This is timely, as following the economic downturn Ireland’s economy is now growing again. A large part of the growth is being driven by Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and export-orientated businesses. However, the narrative to promote industry investment has evolved; Ireland is now building an investment case based on talent.
There are many indicators of this transition. The recent Forfás policy statement on FDI in Ireland highlights both talent and research as key investment factors; the American Chamber of Commerce published a report on “Ireland as a global centre for talent”; and Martin Murphy Hewlett Packard’s MD at the Dublin Chamber of Commerce annual dinner noted that future internationally mobile investment will be increasingly won by regions with talent availability.
Consistent with these trends Ireland is developing new innovation policy. The recent budget highlighted improved R&D tax credits and the new concept of a “knowledge box”. These new initiatives are dependent on talent.
A more advanced economy demands more advanced skills and talent. If there is agreement on the importance of talent, has investment in research during the recession resulted in a stronger talent base for Ireland? How do we know that our companies require a technical and more highly trained talent base?
Trinity College Dublin, in partnership with LinkedIn, has carried out an analysis of 11,000 PhD graduates from Irish universities over the last 20 years. The study looked at where these PhD graduates took their first job, the transition from academia to industry and how they compared with bachelor graduates during the same period. The data is based on LinkedIn profile information and is one of the first studies to capture a longitudinal analysis of the careers of our PhD graduates.
An interesting insight is the transition process from PhD to industry. Fifty-eight per cent of graduates following completion of their PhD took up a first role in academia.
However over time this situation changed significantly and by their fifth post, 63 per cent of the PhD graduates were working in industry.
Time lapse
The average time for a PhD graduate to transition from academia to industry was 2.7 years. This demonstrates that post-doctorate research is considered an additional career training step. It also highlights that there can be a seven-year window from the first investment in a PhD to a pipeline of industry-ready graduates. Research and talent development takes time.
The LinkedIn data shows a doubling of PhD graduates working in industry in the period 2000 to 2010. This represents both the growth in numbers undertaking PhD training and also the increased absorptive capacity of industry.
It also demonstrates how the ambition of Ireland’s Science Technology and Innovation Strategy in the period 2006-2013 to double PhD numbers has directly impacted on our talent competitiveness. This is an important input as our new science strategy is being developed.
The study also shows that a PhD graduate fills a different role in industry. More than 32 per cent of PhD graduates who move into employment in industry have roles in research; with another 21 per cent involved in engineering and information technology roles.
In comparison, only 5 per cent of the 70,000 BSc graduates who have LinkedIn profiles for the same period are working in roles in research.
In addition, the analysis shows that PhD graduates take more senior positions in industry than graduates – 46 per cent of PhDs versus 29 per cent of graduates enter in a “senior contributor” role. This strong interest in PhD graduates by employers is consistent with their skill profiles. PhD graduates have a more diverse and broader technical skill set than the graduates surveyed.
Demand for PhDs
In summary PhD graduates offer different skills, carry out different roles and fill more senior positions than the graduates surveyed. A PhD is a different form of education and increasingly a form which is demanded by employers.
Over this period, the survey shows Trinity College Dublin to be Ireland’s largest provider of PhDs; supplying 20 per cent of the national total. Trinity is using innovative approaches to develop researcher skills and to link them with industry.
Initiatives like the Trinity Innovation and Entrepreneurship strategy; the Trinity-UCD Innovation Academy and the newly formed Office of Corporate Partnership and Knowledge Exchange all focus on developing our PhDs to deliver both world-leading research and industry understanding.
Investing in research produces many tangible impacts: scientific learnings; intellectual property which can be commercialised and international collaborations which enhance our capacity to innovate. However, the most important benefit is talent. Graduates in a range of disciplines and at different levels make up the national talent pool but increasingly research-trained PhD graduates can help differentiate Ireland internationally.
Investment in research is fundamental to ensure that the full potential of the talent showcased at the BTYS is realised in Ireland and for Ireland. Dr Diarmuid O’Brien is director of Trinity Research and Innovation, O’Reilly Institute, Trinity College Dublin

Grade Inflation – not a myth

DCU, UCC award more ‘firsts’ in new indicator of grade inflation

Over 10 years, 17.7% at DCU and UCC got a first compared to 11.9% at UCD

Education 3

At Trinity College Dublin, only eight out of 301 students who sat psychology between 2004 and 2013 failed to achieve a 2.1 or a first.

Joe Humphreys

Mon, Oct 13, 2014, 09:34

Students attending Dublin City University (DCU) or University College Cork (UCC) have a much higher chance of graduating with a first class honours degree than other college-goers, new figures show in a fresh indicator of “grade inflation”.

Over the past 10 years, 17.7 per cent of graduates at DCU and UCC each received a 1st, compared to 12.8 per cent at Maynooth University and just 11.9 per cent at University College Dublin (UCD).

This is despite the fact that entry requirements for courses at DCU and UCC are generally either the same or lower, indicating no marked difference in the quality of student.

Education 4

More than 90 per cent of law graduates in TCD receive either a first or a 2.1. Photograph:
Education 5 Are university grades being inflated to suit jobs market?
education 6 For a consistently high ranking, psychology at Trinity College Dublin takes some beatingTrinity hails ‘exceptionally bright’ psychology students as 97% get a 2.1
The figures, obtained by The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act, also show that a general increase in the percentage of students getting a 2.1, the next highest grade to a first.

At Trinity College Dublin, only eight out of 301 students who sat psychology between 2004 and 2013 failed to achieve a 2.1 or a first.

The university said this was due to the fact that it attracted “exceptionally bright cohorts of students”. Many companies, especially in finance and law, demand a first or 2.1 for entry-level jobs or internships.

The founder of The Summit web company, Paddy Cosgrave, sparked controversy earlier this year when he said it would only accept interns who had got a first, with the exception of Trinity graduates where a 2.1 would be allowed. Mr Cosgrave, a TCD alumnus, argued that “a 2.1 in one university would not equate to a 2.1 in another university”.

The figures show that, between 2004 and 2013, an average of 71.7 per cent of students at TCD graduated with either a 1st or a 2.1.

DCU and UCC had the next highest rate of such awards (64.3 per cent and 64.2 per cent respectively), followed by UCD (55.8 per cent), NUI Galway (54.7 per cent), Maynooth University (53.7 per cent) and University of Limerick (50.2 per cent).

While the overall figures raised questions for particular universities, there were more general signs of grade inflation at faculty level.

University Grades Psychology Flying High

Trinity hails ‘exceptionally bright’ psychology students as 97% get a 2.1

Only eight out of 301 students who sat the course failed to achieve a first


For a consistently high ranking, psychology at Trinity College Dublin takes some beating

Joe Humphreys

Mon, Oct 13, 2014,

What’s the easiest course in which to get a first?

Computer science and software engineering at Maynooth University has relatively strong credentials, with 38 per cent of students over the past five years receiving the top grade.

And in 2012, a particularly good year, 59 per cent of participants got a first.

Education 2

More than 90 per cent of law graduates in TCD receive either a first or a 2.1. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill Are university grades being inflated to suit jobs market?
Engineering, manufacturing and construction at NUI Galway recorded similar stellar results, with 36 per cent of students between 2004 and 2013 getting a first. In 2007, 112 of 239 graduates (47 per cent) under the faculty heading received the top grade.

But for a consistently high ranking, psychology at Trinity College Dublin takes some beating.

Only eight out of 301 students who sat psychology between 2004 and 2013 failed to achieve a 2.1 or a first (which translates as a 97 per cent success rate). Last year, 13 of the 32 students taking final exams (41 per cent) got a first.

Of course, higher grades don’t necessarily mean inflated grades.

Asked to explain the figures, TCD said its psychology course “attracts exceptionally bright cohorts of students who, in the four years of the degree, achieve a very high standard which is vetted by a wide range of external examiners.

“We repeatedly ask these external examiners, from a range of respected academic institutions, who read and double-mark exam papers and research projects, to check whether the degree classes awarded are justified. Uniformly and consistently they say they are.”

Martin O’Grady, a lecturer at Tralee Institute of Technology, who has previously published research on grade inflation, said “robust, independent monitoring” was needed to establish whether certain courses were being marked too easily.

“To achieve parity of standards across institutions you must have academics motivated by academic standards, not by getting a higher number of students through with higher grades.”

Raised questions

In general, he says, “the institution that takes in the weaker students are elevating their grades, whereas TCD don’t have to do that”.

Previous research showed that the percentage of first-class honours awarded across Irish universities rose from 7 per cent in 1994 to 17 per cent in 2005. The latest figures indicate there has been a small decline since in most universities but one counterbalanced by a rise in the awarding of 2.1s.

While the overall figures raised questions for particular institutions, there were more general signs of grade inflation at faculty level.

At UCD, the proportion of students gaining a first or 2.1 in science jumped from 37.5 per cent in 2004 to 59 per cent in 2013, although this was largely accounted for by a change to the grading system in recent years.

At DCU, the last three years saw the highest grades in science, maths and computing, with 71.5 per cent of students gaining a first or 2.1 in 2013 compared to a 10-year low of 53.8 per cent in 2005.

As to comparing awards between universities, in humanities, for example, TCD came out top, with 16.6 per cent of graduates in the last five years obtaining a first and 65.1 per cent getting a 2.1.

At UCC, in arts, social sciences and Celtic studies, 13.2 per cent got a first and 47.3 per cent got a 2.1. For UCD arts, 8.4 per cent got a first and 46.3 per cent got a 2.1.

In humanities at NUI Galway, 8.8 per cent got a first, and 40.2 per cent got a 2.1.

As for the toughest course in which to get top marks, medicine stands out. Over the last 10 years, just 38 of 1,263 TCD graduates got a first and only 56 out of 1,731 UCD graduates did so. In both cases, this translates as a 3 per cent success rate.

Stormont screws University of Ulster to the wall. Students beware!

To deal with this in-year position the Senior Executive Team (SET) with the endorsement of the Resources Committee of Council have agreed to:

*       Cut recurrent expenditure over which we have control by 8% (except for the library allocation and the grant to the students’ union,
which have been protected).
*       Transfer £900k of the one-off grant of £2.7 million that we received last year and are using as a research challenge fund,
to meet part of this year’s required cut in staffing expenditure.
*       Achieve the remaining £1.1 million required saving in the staffing budget by tight control over the approval of replacement posts.

SET members will lead the budget considerations, adjusted action plans and forward planning for their areas of responsibility in line with the above
agreed actions.

Since 2011 the Stormont Executive have already cut university budgets substantially with Ulster being required to absorb cuts of c£12million.

Colleagues should note that universities in Northern Ireland now receive an average of at least £1,500 less per year (grant plus fees),
for each student than do universities in England.
And over £2,000 less per year for each student in some subject areas.
This is a serious underinvestment in the future of our young people by the Stormont Executive.
Additionally, universities in Northern Ireland do not receive charitable rate relief as do universities in England,
and we have to pay more through our access agreement.

Overall Ulster receives some £20 million less per year than we would if we operated in England,
with the obvious implications for our ability to compete with them.
Whilst we have taken action to deal with the current situation, the Stormont budget will be cut further next year if welfare reform is not implemented.
We cannot ignore this possibility and are considering options for dealing with future cuts.
I will keep you informed about this, but further restructuring is likely to be required.

Politics is about choice and it is not for us to comment on the merits or otherwise of welfare reform.  But choices have consequences.
And a consequence of the decisions at Stormont is that there is now serious underinvestment in the future of our young people.
Those consequences may not be evident immediately but they will be before long.

University Rankings

UCD drops out of world’s top 200 league table
Sharp decline in rankings leads to calls for a reversal of cuts


Phil Baty, rankings editor at Times Higher Education, said: “This is a real shock result for Ireland – not only has TCD fallen further away from the world top 100 list, but UCD has plummeted out of the top 200 altogether.” Photograph: ThinkStock

Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 22:19

First published: Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 21:01

UCD has fallen out of the world’s top 200 universities in a prestigious global league table, just three years after it dropped out of the top 100.

The sharp decline in the university’s performance has led to renewed calls for a reversal of cuts to higher education.

Tom Boland, chief executive of the Higher Education Authority said: “There should be no doubt that we are now at a tipping point. The global university rankings, for all their flaws, reflect international perceptions and we should take note of concerns that our universities are not in a position to compete.”

TCD also fell in the latest ratings from Times Higher Education (THE), a British publishing firm, slipping from 129th to 138th place.

In 2010, TCD was ranked as high as 76th and the previous year, in a joint survey between THE and another rankings company QS, it was 43rd in the world.

UCD’s decline in the THE rankings has been even sharper in that period, falling from 89th in 2009 to 161st last year. It is now ranked in the 226th-250th bracket for 2014.

Not good news

Phil Baty, rankings editor at THE, said: “This is a real shock result for Ireland – not only has TCD fallen further away from the world top 100 list, but UCD has plummeted out of the top 200 altogether.”

There was better news for NUI Galway. It leapfrogged UCC into third place among Irish universities (rising from 301st-350th to 251st-275th). UCC remained unchanged in the 276th-300th bracket, while the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland entered the top 400 at 351st-400th.

The three other universities in the Republic remain outside the top 400, as does the University of Ulster. Queen’s University Belfast remained unchanged in the 251st-275th bracket.

UCD president Prof Andrew Deeks described the results as “very puzzling, coming only two weeks after the release of the QS ranking, which, based on objective measures, showed us holding our place at 139.

“Our own analyses show that in terms of objective measures of teaching and research performance, we are performing well and making good progress.”

Big swings

Suggesting that the survey might have been designed to grab more headlines than previous ones, Prof Deeks said: “Clearly a table with big swings each year generates more attention than one that changes slowly. Yet universities, by their nature, change on a long time scale.”

Trinity’s Dean of Research, Prof Vinny Cahill said: “Our universities are sliding because we can’t compete on funding. On a per academic basis, Trinity’s annual budget is 45 per cent lower than that of the average top 200 university.”

OECD publishes study on Irish education

The OECD has published its ‘Education at a Glance’ study
The proportion of young people in Ireland who are unemployed and not engaged in any training or education programme is higher than other developed countries, according to a study published by the OECD.

This year’s ‘Education at a Glance’ report found that 22% of Irish young people are in this category, compared to an EU and OECD average of 15%.

In its latest report comparing education systems and outcomes the OECD has found that young people here are far more likely to complete second level education.

Two years ago, 93% of Irish teenagers were expected to complete secondary school, compared to an average OECD rate of 84%.

However despite high rates of educational achievement here the OECD says Ireland’s general unemployment rates remain higher than average compared to other member states.

On spending, the latest data finds that Ireland has the third greatest annual expenditure per student compared to all other OECD countries.

This figure excludes money spent on research and development.

The only countries with greater expenditure are Canada and the US.

When taken as a proportion of overall spending however, the study finds that Ireland’s expenditure, at 6.2% of GDP places it in 18th place out of 37 OECD counties.

That’s slightly above average but far below the proportions spent in Scandinavian countries.

In the classroom, this study finds that Ireland’s pupil teacher ratio is worse than the OECD and EU average.

At second-level Ireland has one teacher for every 15 students. That compares to an EU average of one teacher for every 12 students. In Primary education there are 16 pupils here for every teacher. The EU average is 14 pupils per teacher.

The study finds that Irish teachers engage in more teaching time than average, at 915 hours per year at Primary level here compared to an average of 761 hours annually across EU states.

The figure at second level is also considerably higher than the average.

The study finds that teachers here are well paid by OECD and EU standards. Salaries here are higher at all levels compared to the average across other countries.

Leaving Cert offers us lessons in economics

By Brian Lucey

With the Leaving Cert results out, and students awaiting CAO offers, we might wish to consider again some of the problems of the second-level system, and in particular how basic economic principles can help us towards a solution.

We have a well-educated population. The OECD education statistics tell us that 37.7% of the population have tertiary education, compared with 31% for the OECD on average.

For secondary education, this is reversed, with Ireland at 35%, but rising consistently vs the OECD average of 44%. We have, in effect, a two-tier labour market — a younger population with a higher education attainment than an older. This is clear if we look at the age cohorts — educational attainment drops as we move into older age cohorts and we drop behind the average.

However, the high level of educational skills should not be taken for granted. Looking at the data, we see that in 2010, we reached a peak. The percentage dropped in 2011. With a three-year lag, that gets us to the Leaving Cert of 2008, and a two-three year lag back from the Leaving Cert class of 2008 gets us to the height of the bubble.

Looking at these 2003 and 2004 school-entry cohorts, we see a drop in the percentage of male students sitting even the Junior Cert. This is the first economics lesson — students can be incentivised to leave school and forgo long-term benefits for the sake of short-term cash. We have bonus points for Leaving Cert subjects — how about bonus cash for school completion for some cohorts?


Then we have the bonus points. To the surprise of exactly nobody, the decision to revert to a CAO points bonus for Leaving Certificate higher mathematics has induced more students to take it. Economics 101 would however make some other predictions.

Incentives have to be calibrated to the effort required to achieve them. As things stand, we have a single bonus — 25 points for D or above. Not surprisingly, the percentage of those sitting higher maths and failing it has increased — it is “worth a try” for the marginal student as a 25-point boost can be enormous.

There is, or should be, an enormous difference in effort required to go from a D to an A in any subject, particularly honours-level mathematics. So why do we not recognise that and give a calibrated reward to recognise the calibrated effort. A second economics lesson would be to have higher bonuses for higher grades to reflect this.

This raises the other vexed issue of effort. Students are not stupid. They place effort where it is most likely to be rewarded — basic economic logic. Given a choice, why would anyone take Art (1% of 2013 higher-level students get an A1) over Russian (66%)? Why would one take Business (3.9%) over Accounting (9.2%)? Such anomalies abound.

An interesting experiment was carried in Wellesley College in Massachusetts, where a grade anchoring system was put in place. This in effect mandated that the average grades across all introductory courses be equalised. The effect was to change choice, as we would expect. It reduced the prevalence of higher grades in “generous” courses and more importantly, switched student enrolment away from these to other courses.

We see in the higher Leaving Cert that the median grade hovers around C1/B3 for most courses but for some it can be the A1 and for others C2. These translate to significant differences in points. So the third economic lesson is to reduce perverse incentives if they already exist in course choice. The Leaving Cert results discussion was dominated by the maths discussion. That in turn was dominated by the effect that it would have on both CAO higher education points and the benefits to the economy. This is utterly perverse.

In 1976, the CAO points system was introduced as a clean, transparent, incorruptible way of assigning courses to students for university. In 1976, we had less than 3% of the total education cohort in universities, and so the impact of the CAO points system was on a very small number and proportion of persons.

We now have 15% of the total cohort in the CAO ‘space’, so it is much more impactful. The CAO points system is like the ECB. It does its job magnificently well. The problem is that like the ECB, its mandate is limited. Points are a price. The more people want a course, the more expensive it is. The ESRI has shown in stark terms, the effects of the points race on the secondary school experience, and it is very negative.

So, the fourth and fifth economics lessons for the Leaving Cert are as follows: The fourth is to increase the supply at university. This does not mean that we increase the number of places. University now, whether we like it or not, is a generalised education. So we should move towards the Melbourne model with a few, large entry courses in the lower years and allow students to specialise later.

The fifth is to increase the “purchasing power” of students, to engage in “quantitative CAO point easing” as it were. Right now, we reward only one domain of intelligence. What we should do is expand the range of skills for which points can be awarded, and so long as this is done at the same time as we expand the base of entry, we won’t see a problem with point inflation.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

Language Schools closed in Dublin

Liquidator appointed to Dublin language school
BCT Institute closed last month with debts of more than €350,000

Revenue was  owed €64,495 by the BCT Institute, the creditors meeting was told today.

The Dublin company behind English language school BCT Institute has gone into liquidation with debts of over €350,000.

It is the sixth private language college to close since last May.

However, a creditors meeting today heard that most of the BCT’s 530 students had already been transferred to other colleges. The two largest unsecured creditors listed in a statement of affairs were Liffey College and NCBA- owed €63,000 and €90,000 respectively – for accommodating such displaced students

Revenue was said to be owed €64,495 and Dublin City Council €65,000 in rates.

BCT closed its doors on what it said was a temporary basis last month after it was suspended from a list of authorised colleges.

Today, Declan de Lacy of PKF O’Connor, Leddy & Holmes was appointed as liquidator to HSD Education Limited, which traded as BCT at Dublin’s Parnell Street. Muhammad Hafeez, a director of the company, attended the creditor’s meeting but was unavailable for comment afterwards.

Luis Pinto, a former student at BCT, said he understood about 50 students had been left “in limbo” without being transferred to another college. A lot of students had lost their fees, and felt it was unfair they were being asked to pay again under the subsidised scheme set up last month by the industry body Marketing English in Ireland (MEI).

Under the scheme, courses are being offered at a discount of up to 70 per cent for the estimated 2,000 students affected by the closures.

Four of the other language schools to close were in Dublin – Kavanagh College, Eden College, Irish Business School and Millennium College – while the fifth was in Cork: the Allied Irish College on South Mall.

Queens Belfast is 342 and University of Ulster 738 on top schools list

The Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) publishes the only global university ranking that measures the quality of education and training of students as well as the prestige of the faculty members and the quality of their research without relying on surveys and university data submissions.

CWUR uses eight objective and robust indicators to rank the world’s top 1000 universities:

1) Quality of Education, measured by the number of a university’s alumni who have won major international awards, prizes, and medals relative to the university’s size [25%]
2) Alumni Employment, measured by the number of a university’s alumni who currently hold CEO positions at the world’s top companies relative to the university’s size [25%]
3) Quality of Faculty, measured by the number of academics who have won major international awards, prizes, and medals [25%]
4) Publications, measured by the number of research papers appearing in reputable journals [5%]
5) Influence, measured by the number of research papers appearing in highly-influential journals [5%]
6) Citations, measured by the number of highly-cited research papers [5%]
7) Broad Impact, measured by the university’s h-Index [5%]
8) Patents, measured by the number of international patent filings [5%]
In addition to providing consultation for governments and universities, the Center for World University Rankings aims to provide the most comprehensive university rankings available, which are trusted by students, academics, university administrators, and government officials from around the world.








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Ranking by Country


Copyright © 2014 Center for World University Rankings

List of top 1,000 universities features eight from Ireland

Trinity College Dublin is top Irish university on list

File image of Trinity College Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Time

File image of Trinity College Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Time

Erin McGuire

Tue, Jul 15, 2014, 12:01

First published: Tue, Jul 15, 2014, 12:01

Eight Irish universities appear on a list of the world’s top 1,000 third-level institutions published today.

The Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) features eight US and two British universities in the top 10.

Trinity College Dublin is the Irish university closest to the top and is ranked 200th overall. University College Dublin ranked second in Ireland but 269th worldwide. University College Cork placed third in Ireland and 463rd on the list.

The other Irish universities on the list are the National University of Ireland, Galway (600), the Royal College of Surgeons (647), Dublin City University (819), the National University of Ireland, Maynooth (820) and the University of Limerick (944).

The US has 229 universities in the top 1,000, China has 84, Japan has 74, the UK has 64 and Germany has 55. Ireland and Greece have eight universities on the list.

The top 10 universities on the list are: Harvard; Stanford; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Cambridge; Oxford; Columbia; University of California, Berkeley; Chicago; Princeton and Yale.

The 2014 list is based on eight factors described by the CWUR as “objective and robust”. Education quality, alumni employment, quality of faculty, publications, influence, research citations, impact and patents all influence a university’s ranking.

Alumni employment, for example, is measured by the number of alumni holding CEO positions in the world’s top companies relative to the university’s size.

Ned CostelloIrish Universities Association chief executive, warned the CWUR rankings should be “viewed with caution”. He said the recently published Higher Education System performance report provides a more accurate picture of Irish university performance. That report includes “very positive findings in relation to the employability of graduates and the strength of research and innovation outputs”.

Mr Costello argued that some of the measures do not accurately quantify the quality of Irish education. “For example, employment performance is defined as the number of alumni holding CEO positions in the top 2000 companies listed by Forbes magazine. In an Irish context, it probably matters more to the population at large that the unemployment rate of honours degree graduates six months after graduation is seven per cent (half of the national average), and down from 10 per cent in 2008,” he said.

Mr Costello also said highly-resourced institutions tend to fare better in international rankings. “Given the current trend of disinvestment by the State in higher education in Ireland”, the country is “swimming against the tide” in attempting to improve its performance in international rankings.

The complete list of CWUR’s top 1000 universities can be found at