Trinity College climbs 27 places in latest set of world university rankings

Most Irish universities hold their positions as University of Limerick records its highest placing

Trinity College Dublin, Ireland’s highest-ranked third-level institution, has climbed 27 places to 134th in the latest set of world university rankings.

Overall, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2024 show most Irish universities have held their positions.

University College Dublin is in the 201-250 category, while the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) has slipped into the 251-300 category. It is followed by University of Galway (301-500), University College Cork (301-500) and Dublin City University (401-500).

University of Limerick has climbed into the 401-500 category, up from 601-800 last year – its highest ranking. There was no change for Maynooth University (401-500) or Technological University Dublin (1,001-1,200).


While there are more than a dozen world university rankings, the Times Higher Education version is considered by many to be one of the “big three”, alongside QS and Shanghai’s Academic Ranking of World Universities.

Critics say university rankings are not an accurate measure of performance and neglect key areas such as the quality of teaching and learning. However, they remain influential internationally in areas such as reputation, research and student choice.

University of Limerick president Prof Kerstin Mey said the university’s placing this year was a “milestone achievement”.

“Ranking in the top 500 universities in the world is a testament to the unwavering dedication and commitment of our university community in the pursuit of excellence and innovation,” she said, adding that an improved ranking holds immense significance for a research-led institution.

“These rankings are not just numbers or symbols of prestige, they reflect a university’s global standing and its impact on society.”

Overall, University of Oxford has topped the rankings for the eighth year in a row, Stanford University was in second place, with Massachusetts Institute of Technology third. Harvard University was in fourth place, followed by the University of Cambridge which slipped to fifth, after being in joint third last year.

The United States is the most represented country overall, with 169 institutions, and also the most represented in the top 200 (56). With 91 institutions, India is now the fourth most-represented nation, overtaking China (86).

China’s best institutions, meanwhile, are inching closer to entering the top 10 after Tsinghua University and Peking University climbed a few places to sit in 12th and 14th, respectively. China now has 13 universities in the top 200 – up from seven in 2020 – with each improving its ranking significantly.

India’s leading institution, the Indian Institute of Science, has climbed back into the top 250 for the first time in several years. However, it is the only Indian university in the top 500.

Universities in the Times Higher Education rankings are evaluated across five key areas or pillars: teaching, research environment, research quality, international outlook and industry.

The methodology used for the 2024 rankings included significant updates, with the introduction of a wider range of research citation measures, international student numbers and expanding the role for advanced research.

The company behind the rankings offers a paid-for service to higher education institutions on how to “raise their global profile”, as well as access to analytical and benchmarking tools, a move criticised by some commentators.

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien is Education Editor of The Irish Times. He was previously chief reporter and social affairs correspondent