The latest QS University rankings have just been released. Irish Universities, for the most part, have continued their gradual fall in the rankings or maintained their ranking. The QS rankings are based on research, teaching, the employability of its graduates and international outlook. Figure 1 shows the actual rankings since 2005. The graph shows Irish universities have had a strong increase in rankings throughout this period but with a worsening outlook for 2011 and 2012.
Figure 2 shows the rate of change over the same time period. During the 2005 to 2009 period all Irish universities were showing improving rankings. However, from 2010 onwards this situation has reversed and most Irish universities are now losing ground on their international competitors or making only marginal gains on them.
The latest Global Competitiveness Report has just been released and can be accessed here. Some interesting statistics on Ireland can be gained from the report.
Notably, Ireland has improved its competitiveness ranking from 29th (which it held for the last two years) to 27th. Increased competitiveness is views as enabling an economy to grow more rapidly (and in the case of Ireland may have implications for recovery). However, this ranking of 27th, while good, is comprised of some worrying outlooks on the Irish economy. For instance, Ireland's macroeconomic outlook is ranked as 131st. Indicating the high level of uncertainty regarding Ireland's growing debt and the ability of the Irish economy to recover following the recession. It also reflects Ireland's budget problems and high debt to GDP ratio. Ireland's Financial Market Development is ranked at 108, again indicating a high level of uncertainty regarding the financial institutions in place in Ireland. It also takes into account the difficulty of getting finance from various sources. Indeed, when asked the most problematic factor for doing business in Ireland business reported a lack of access to finance as their number one problem.
So overall, while Ireland's competitive position has increased slightly from previous years, there is still a large amount of uncertainty surrounding the macroeconomic environment (government budgets, debt etc) and the financial system (access to finance etc).
I was on the local organising committee for the Irish Society of New Economists (ISNE) 9th annual conference which was held in University College Cork on the 23rd and 24th of August 2012. We had over 70 delegates attending the event presenting their research. With an opening address from Professor Connell Fanning (University College Cork) and keynote addresses by Professor Bernard Fingleton (University of Cambridge) and Professor Geoffrey Hodgson (University of Hertfordshire). Below are some photos from what was an enjoyable and successful event. The official website for the conference can be accessed at www.isne2012.com
Justin Doran is a Lecturer in Economics, in the Department of Economics, University College Cork, Ireland.