Best universities in Ireland 2017

Explore the best universities in Ireland based on data collected by Times Higher Education

April 19 2017

View universities in Ireland ranked in the 2016-17 World University Rankings


Despite a moderate island population of roughly five million, there are a number of excellent higher learning institutions in the Republic of Ireland. 

Three of the country's best universities are based in the greater area of Dublin, Ireland’s capital and largest city. Culturally, Dublin is well known for being the setting of the novels of James Joyce. Meanwhile, the Guinness brewery at St. James’ gate street was the original location for the brewing of Ireland's best-known stout in 1759, and is now a popular tourist attraction.

The ancient language of Irish Gaelic is still spoken in places on the "Emerald Isle", and continues to be taught in schools. However, English is more commonly used by the majority of Irish residents, and virtually every university course is taught in the language.

Below are four of the best universities in Ireland. For the latest rankings, visit the World University Rankings table, where you can also filter by country. 

Trinity College Dublin 

Established in 1592, Trinity College is the oldest university in Ireland. It was founded as an Irish equivalent to Oxford and Cambridge, and retains its reputation as a research centred university.

Trinity College is located in central Dublin near the River Laffey, and is a mere stone's throw away from the Irish Houses of Parliament, making the university ideal for aspiring political science students. Although Trinity is not structured in a collegiate like Oxbridge, the university offers a huge range of courses from acting to zoology. Trinity also support its students through assigning each student a personal tutor, and providing a campus-based Careers Advisory Service.

Among the university's alumni is mathematician William Rowan Hamilton, who has a research institute at Trinity named in his honour. Author of Dracula, Bram Stoker, and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Mairead Maguire are other well-known graduates.

University College Dublin (UCD)

While the university retains the Dublin name from its history of scattered campuses across the city, UCD is now based in Belfield, around four kilometres south of the capital. This consolidation of Ireland’s largest university allows for a genuine campus experience, especially for first year students who can take advantage of accommodation on site.

UCD has a reputation for excellence in research across the humanities and sciences. In clinical and health fields the university is among the top scoring worldwide.

UCD is also known as "Ireland’s Global University". This is a result of the university hosting thousands of international students, exchange programmes with hundreds of universities worldwide, and the Overseas Chapters programme which hosts events throughout the year.

Notable graduates include author James Joyce, founder of Amnesty International Seán MacBride, and comedian Dara O’Briain.


More best university guides

Best universities in the UK 
Best universities in Europe
Best universities in Scotland
Best universities in Germany
Best universities in Italy
Best universities in London
Best universities in the Netherlands
Best universities in France
Best universities in the world


National University of Ireland, Galway 

Galway is small city located on the western coast, among the green countryside. But don’t let that fool you into thinking the city is a quiet rural outpost, for lively events such as the annual Pride festival make Galway a social hub ideal for students. It is also a 2020 European Capital of Culture.

The university was recently awarded significant investment and now has a student centre, a building for the study of human biology and a centre for drama, theatre and performance.

Anyone with an interest in linguistics may be well suited to Galway’s School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures which contains disciplines including French, German and Classical. The school is also the location of the UNESCO-recognised archive of historical Irish Gaelic documents, studied under Celtic Civilisation.

The oldest student society at Galway is the literary and debating society, which was founded in 1846, just a year after the university opened.

Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin 

The RCSI has been a renowned surgical college since it was granted a royal charter in 1784, and now serves as Ireland’s largest medical school. Although a private institution, the RCSI offers a number of scholarships for both Irish and international students in PhD and master's programmes.

The RCSI has also expanded to offer postgraduate courses in bereavement studies and healthcare technologies, as well as offering five year undergraduate degree courses in pharmacy and four year courses in physiotherapy.

Many renowned figures from the worlds of surgical and medical development have received their diploma at RCSI. One such example is Nada Haffadh, who became Bahrain’s first female minster after being appointed health minister in 2004. Another is Ali Darzi, a pioneer in the fields of surgical robotics and minimally invasive surgery.

Top universities in Ireland 2017

Click each institution to view its full World University Rankings 2016-2017 results

Ireland Rank World University Rank University
1 =131 Trinity College Dublin
=2 201-250 National University of Ireland, Galway
=2 201-250 Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
=2 201-250 University College Dublin
=5 351-400 University College Cork
=5 351-400 National University of Ireland, Maynooth
7 401-500 Dublin City University
8 501-600 University of Limerick
9 601-800 Dublin Institute of Technology

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Related articles

Study Business & Management in Ireland

Study Computer Science in Ireland

Study Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering in Ireland

Study Electrical & Electronic Engineering in Ireland

Study Accounting & Finance in Ireland

Study Biological Sciences in Ireland