Ranking of Irish Universities (and Economics Departments)

Rankings are funny things. Economists love them. There are rankings by department, by citation, and by subdiscipline. My favourite one is the top dead economist. You’d think it would be Adam Smith, but no.

Some people even rank their rankings.

There are even rankings of business schools, academics, and celebrity economists in Ireland, thanks to Richard Tol and colleagues. The rankings aren’t without controversy. In particular, some see ranking as academic bureaucracy and nothing more, others (like frequent IrishEconomy poster Ernie Ball) point to the perverse incentives such rankings produce in academic life, as well as other serious issues. Ferdinand Von Prondzynski summarises the arguments well here. Here is another particularly harsh assessment of these rankings.

Today’s university rankings show two Irish universities and economics departments in a particularly good light. TCD and UCD come out really well in several areas. Other universities, including mine, don’t feature as prominently at all. Brian Lucey has done the spade work on his blog going through the report, and I reproduce his summary below the fold. Some remarkable findings in there–TCD mathematics is 15th in the world, TCD psychology is top 50, for example–as well as the news that UCD and TCD economics departments are both in the top 50 100 (ht Enda H). Well done to them.

I’m particularly interested in commenters’ reactions to this latest report, and what it might mean for universities in Ireland that a. don’t make the cut in terms of rankings, and b. those that do. Rather than rehashing the tired “rankings-good/rankings-bad” argument, let’s focus, if we can, on what these rankings imply for the funding each university receives by subject area, in the light of the Hunt Report and it’s eventual implementation.  Should resources flow disproportionately to the ‘winners’–TCD and UCD–or alternatively to other universities to bring up capacity? Should all universities do everything, or should there be partitions by subject area? Should UCD’s mathematics department, to pick an example at random, give up and go home, given than TCD’s is so obviously world class? Take a look at the summary below to begin.

Preliminary Census Results Analysed

Three related posts readers of this blog should be interested in.

First, IrelandafterNama show and describe the geographic variation we see within the preliminary Census results (which are here; initial comments on this blog with hat-tipping to JtO here).

Second, the ever-excellent NAMAWineLake gets sociological on us in a fascinating post on growth of household sizes and why we need an extra 17,000 houses a year.

Third, Seamus Coffey thinks about what an extra 100,000 people means for our economic indicators.

Currency (Mis)Pricing: An appreciation

The pre-2007 Irishman abroad in Europe had a little swagger to him. He thought his economy was a Tiger. When abroad in Europe, he spent like crazy, and generally annoyed his European counterparts with his brash ways. (Of course I’m not thinking of anyone in particular). The reverse is happening at the moment. We’re humble little chappies. My French and German friends are sending me emails with pictures of the Book of Kells saying ‘please take care of our investment’ and ‘are you enjoying your bailout?’ and ‘we’re still waiting for the thank you card’.

They’ll be waiting a while longer. When I say our European friends should be thanking us, they assume it’s a throwback to the hubris of pre-2007 Ireland or something to do with keeping eyes off the balance sheets of German and French banks. It’s not, and here’s just one reason why.