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New university rankings launched as part of Ireland’s Presidency of EU

30.01.2013, 13:00 GMT

U-Multirank, a new university ranking system, is being launched under the Irish EU Presidency in Dublin today by Ruairí Quinn, TD, Minister for Education and Skills and European Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou. This new system marks a radical departure from the traditional methods of grading higher education institutions which tend to focus mainly on research performance. 500 universities worldwide are expected to sign up.

Given the increasing global demand for a ‘knowledge society’, public interest in the performance of higher education institutions (HEIs) has never been higher.  However, the current systems of global university rankings do not reflect the needs of all stakeholders – including students, business and governments. 

U-Multirank is addressing this by measuring the performance and excellence of HEIs across a variety of dimensions.  Five areas are measured: reputation for research, quality of teaching and learning, international orientation, success in knowledge transfer (such as partnerships with business and start-ups), and contribution to regional growth.

Quality and equity are two of the key themes of the education dimension to Ireland’s Presidency of the EU and the new U-Multirank is an excellent example of this.

The next phase of U-Multirank is being launched at a conference in Dublin Castle under the Irish Presidency of the EU.  Some 500 universities are expected to sign up to take part, with the first rankings results expected in early 2014. 


Hosting the conference, Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn TD said,

“Quality and equity are two of the key themes of the education dimension to Ireland’s Presidency of the EU and the new U-Multirank is an excellent example of this.  We are strongly committed to helping roll-out the next phase of the ranking system and I would urge higher education institutions across Europe and beyond to seize the opportunity to become involved in this new and impartial way of assessing their performance.”

There has been strong Irish involvement in the project to date with six HEIs taking part in the first phase: University College Dublin, Cork Institute of Technology, Dublin Institute of Technology, Galway/Mayo Institute of Technology, IT Tallaght and IT Sligo. 

Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth said,

"The new ranking proposed by the European Commission will, above all, enable young people to make better informed decisions about where to study; it will also allow universities to compare themselves in a more transparent and useful way. The new listing will differ from existing international rankings by rating universities according to a broad range of performance factors, which will provide a more accurate, comparable and user-friendly guide to university quality. I encourage all Irish universities to participate in this initiative.

"As well as its added value for students and universities, I believe the new ranking will be an indispensable tool for political decision makers, in the context of our joint efforts at EU level to encourage the much-needed modernisation of higher education institutions,” she concluded.

Tom Boland, Chief Executive of the Higher Education Authority said, “Understanding the outcomes from higher education is essential to the continuing development of quality European higher education and, with it, the development of our societies and economies and it is entirely reasonable that students and their parents should know the outcomes they can expect from a higher education institution, given their investment of time and money. 

“The U-Multirank programme offers all stakeholders in higher education a meaningful way to assess the quality of outcomes, while avoiding the perverse incentives of many ranking systems, and its further development is much to be desired.”

As well as providing an authoritative ranking comparing institutions, U-Multirank will also rate universities in four specific subject areas: business studies, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and physics. The list of specific disciplines will be gradually expanded in future years.


Read Minister Quinn's speech (in Microsoft Word format).


An independent consortium will compile the ranking, led by the Centre for Higher Education (CHE) in Germany and the Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS) in the Netherlands. The consortium will also work with national ranking partners and stakeholder organisations representing students, universities and business to ensure completeness and accuracy. The new rankings will be impartial, based on measurable criteria and data. 

The next phase of UMultirank is being launched as part of an EU Irish Presidency Conference entitled “Rankings and the Visibility of Quality Outcomes in the European Higher Education Area, from the 30-31st of January in George’s Hall, Dublin Castle.  Some 170 higher education stakeholders are expected to attend. 

€2 million in EU funding has been secured for UMultirank from the Lifelong Learning Programme for 3013/14, with the possibility of a further two years of seed-funding.  The goal is for an independent organisation to run the ranking thereafter. 


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picture of Deirdre Grant, Director of Communications,

Deirdre Grant, Director of Communications, (Education)




Sarah Miley, Press Office




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