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UL President calls for more Government funding as UL remain static in University Rankings

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University of Limerick President Dr. Des Fitzgerald has called for more Government funding as Irish third-level institutions all lost ground in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings list.

The headline figure being touted in the Irish media on Thursday was Dublin’s Trinity College dropping out of the top 100 worldwide, but closer to home, the University of Limerick is holding its own.

UL itself has remained relatively static in the rankings, still ranking in the 501-600 top Universities in the world, the same position it has occupied for the last few years, with the University still ranking in the top 101-150 in the “Young Universities” rankings.

UL scored third-best in Ireland for International Outlook, and fourth worldwide in the category decent work and economic growth, which measures universities’ economics research, their employment practices and the share of students taking work placements.

Speaking after the rankings were published on Thursday morning, Dr. Fitzgerald said on Twitter “The sharp decline in Times Higher Education global rankings sparks call for urgent State funding. A decade ago, Ireland had two universities in top 100, but no more. 30% drop in state funding despite growing student numbers taking its toll, in @ul and elsewhere”

Professor Desmond Fitzgerlad
Call: Dr. Des Fitzgerald took to Twitter on Thursday morning to discuss the latest University Rankings

Speaking to An Focal, a spokesperson for UL said “University of Limerick maintained its position in the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings. UL ranked 141st globally for its International Outlook, which the University welcomes as it prepares to launch its new strategic plan, which will have a strong emphasis on internationalisation.

“UL president Dr Des Fitzgerald is on record as saying that we need to have a roadmap for how we are going to develop the institutions to reach the very stretching target that the government has of a 30% increase in the number of students attending universities. For us, that would mean that by 2030 we would have another 5,000 students, bringing us up to 20,000 students. That has to be funded, we have to be able to expand facilities, but we need to be able to hire more staff and develop new technologies for delivering educational programmes.

“At the moment, it is going the other way – we have had a 30% drop in government funding since 2008, and we have had to make that up by bringing in more postgraduate students, more international students and having more commercial activity.

Image result for university of limerick
UL could be home to 20,000 students by 2030 – but would struggle to meet that lofty goal without more Government funding

“We await a government decision on how it decides to support the university sector and UL into the future so that it can continue to support the ambitions of the people in the region and also compete internationally in a rapidly changing world.”

A statement from the Irish Universities Association said “The positions of Irish universities on the international ranking system, for all its imperfections, reflects the material reduction in Government funding over a decade for core student tuition, for capital investment and for investigator led research.”

Universities have worked exceptionally hard to plug the gaps left by the reduction in State funding but the competition is not standing still. Our competitor countries are investing even more in their talent and all the while we fall further behind. It is time for politicians of all political persuasions to stop saying what they don’t want and to commit to solutions.”

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