The Irish Education system. Bork central


University rankings out… everyone agrees the rankings are flawed, but equally that they do matter

TCD, generally the highest performing, manages to mess up its data and so isn’t even included: … -1.2800587

So in the end, none in the top 200 (UCD has slipped down from 176) … 69348.html … 22180.html … 7-Sep2016/
RCSI and NUIG both improve a bit to join UCD in the 201-250 category

ETHZ is the only non anglo-saxon school in the top 10 … 4=91ACEBFE

And what was Brian Hayes’s analysis leading up to the results (before publication): … -1.2798786

The journal made him sound like more of a tit. … 7-Sep2016/


to be fair to Hayes (he’s a twat obviously) is he not referring to the future and the loss a lot of the research projects?

I doubt many of the lads commenting on the Journal will be affected by loss of research projects…


Mid 1980s exam papers were stinkers at every level and qualification (primary, secondary, professional qualifications)

Child centred learning and the self esteem movement destroyed all that.


It’s unclear, but a generous reading would say he’s looking at future losses.

However, I would still put the boot in, partly because he’s just a twat (as you say) but also because:

  • Why blame everythign on Brexit?
  • Why assume that if we’re collaborating with UK researchers that we can’t just start collaborating with others?
  • If there’s a joint project, and UK has to withdraw because they leave the EU, that doesn’t mean we drop the project, that can mean looking for new partners to pick up the baton.
  • It could also improve our prospects of attracting better quality researchers, perhaps even folk who’d come across from UK to continue the project and hold onto the european funding (even if the UK itself couldn’t hold the funding).
  • etc., etc., … cs-tell-uk

Like so much of this, the downsides for the UK are worse than for anywhere else, and while it’s not clear that we get an upside, there’s certainly possibility to maneuver things our way if we work hard, act smart, and apply pressure.

If you wanted to get up in the war for talent, one approach would be to start reaching out to ERC holders and new recipients in the UK. They don’t have to exit yet, but it’ll come and so we’ve a bit of time to prepare.

Say we aspired to top 100 for one of our universities, then where in UK would we be looking at displacing? Could be

  • Edinburgh (27)
  • King’s College London (36)
  • University of Manchester (55)
  • University of Bristol (71)
  • University of Warwick (82)
  • University of Glasgow (88)
  • Durham (96)
    By the time you’re down through the top 200 you’re looking at Exeter, Birmingham, Leeds, Lancaster, Nottingham, Sussex, Liverpool, East Anglia, Leicester, Cardiff, Newcastle, Reading.

Irish institutions, especially in the capital, should be able to compete at this level.

It’s not all about trying to knock Oxford off the top (though by all means its good to have ambition). Some institutions work on this. EPFL (Lausanne) has improved every single year from 2011 to 2017, going from 48 to 30.


Ireland has <0.1% of global population and <1% of global GDP.

Ireland’s population and GDP are growing slower than global rates.

Ireland’s universities are basically funded the same way and offer very similar courses. This means that Ireland is highly unlikely to sustain multiple universities at the frontier of global performance.

We would possible sustain ONE if we could focus resources on it and/or compel the best students to go there and/or attract high-quality global talent and staff. Politically this is unfeasible, there has never been the will to have an elite university in Ireland and this will not change.

I am not particularly bothered by this. Quality of undergraduate university education is fine and the smartest will always be attracted by high-quality postgrad education abroad.

The bigger issue is that Ireland directs FAR too many school-leavers into third-level (highest in Europe I think). We then (unsurprisingly) have spectacular drop-out rates, particularly of kids with low SES and/or leaving cert points. This is hugely wasteful in human terms and also public finance terms.

The educational establishment are snobs to a woman and cannot countenance the fact that 1/3 of the workforce drives taxis, clean floors, work on checkouts, etc. They have proven themselves utterly incapable for many years in putting in place vocational education that would equip the lower end of the educational distribution with the skills to earn a decent living.


I agree with you that the political will is not there, more than that the political comprehension of what that would look lik is not even there. However, I would say you’re setting the bar rather lower than required. Should Ireland not be able to match Scotland?
Netherlands has 8 in the top 100
Denmark has 3 in the top 200
Belgium has 4 in the top 200

It’s not that great, to be honest.

Absolutely, but my point is that by the time you’re down into the 200, you’ve left the big brand-names behind. Leeds/Lancaster/Leicester are all great schools I’m sure, but they’re not ultra-elite by any stretch. Nor are they names that every kid in India/China would gravitate to (as would be MIT, Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford).
I don’t see why an institution like UCD (for example) shouldn’t be able to successfully attack that segment. To hit #150 mean’s displacing, for example, University of Twente.

which group do you refer to by text I marked in bold?


Fair points all Col Max.

By educational establishment I mean the HEA, civil servants in Dep Ed, university chiefs as well as the other worthy academics who have populated expert groups over the years and invariably call for more university education no matter what the circumstances.


For university chiefs to call for more university education seems reasonable enough, even if one might expect a lesser focus on narrow sectoral one-upmanship from those at the top of your education system.

Fair point with regard to HEA, civil servants, Dep Ed though. They are paying at least lip-service to pushing apprenticeships now, but to be honest I wonder if it’s just aping what they’re at in the UK. And what they’re at in the UK with regard to apprenticeships is a pretty messed up.

I was at a meeting with a bunch of large UK companies (all from one sector that has a strong apprenticeship history tradition) and they’re all scratching their heads trying to work out what the new system is and how the apprenticeship levy will work out. To be honest, if this was happening in ireland I’d be saying “we’ve fecking messed it up again, as usual”. One big wrinkle is that Westminister has decided to raise the apprenticeship levy, an has given some details (Though still subject to review) on how that will be rolled out in England. However, it falls into the devolved powers so nobody knows yet what Wales, Scotland and NI will do. This then leads to all sorts of odd scenarios: do the rules attached to the levy draw-down relate to where the employee lives, where they work, or where their employer is headquartered, or what?
It all goes live (levy being levied) in April.


Yeah there is a lot more policy initiatives in the apprenticeship space at the moment. Too soon to tell how effective it is.

In the short run universities (and particularly ITs) should face financial penalties for drop-outs - at the moment they are in some ways rewarded for them.

You would find they would adjust courses downwards in jig time and kids who should never end up there would never even start.


Significant new research confirms that class size is hugely significant to educational outcomes. Not many people in Ireland seem to prioritize this in school choice. … 7624efa643



I’d have assumed everyone knew smaller class sizes are only a good thing…a given. But in Dublin all schools seem to be close to or over 30 per class. I don’t know how the teachers manage it.
Our Gaelscoil seems to aim for the 27 mark which is another plus in its favour.
2 schools away, my wife’s niece is in a class of 37!


People seems to vaguely realize it but not prioritize it as a factor vs for example school location. If you put your kid into a class of 37 you’d want to have your head examined.


Class sizes are mandated by the department. A class size of 27=not a full school. I think 29 is the current max. If your school is full, you can’t be forced to take anyone and those looking to change mid-year have often been excluded from other schools (or the parent has not settled :neutral_face:).


Of course you can choose to invest in your child’s education by funding additional teachers through fees, but around here that makes you a running dog of the elitist pigs.


Or you can vastly improve their chances by promoting reading and a culture of openness and learning at home. Despite being free and self-sustaining once they learn to read, most parents express astonishment that my children could read before they started school and that I wasn’t waiting for them to be taught… of course that requires dragging your sorry arse away from the TV and out of the pub even occasionally. But hey, that’s the state’s responsibility, right?


Also a great option. Although I believe not all children will be able to read more than basic phonics at a pre-school age regardless of teaching. I could be wrong though.


Observing my own family and friends who took an interest in teaching reading skills at home, I’d say reading before school age is pretty easy to achieve. Moreover, even if the skill is rudimentary the ability advances faster than other kids who wait until school age, so that a gap is maintained all the way up. Adult levels of literacy can easily be achieved by age 8 - 10 and this facilitates faster knowledge acquisition in all other areas too. I reckon early literacy skills are one of the very greatest gifts a parent can give a child. Unfortunately most of them seem to prefer gifting a PhD in cartoon watching.


I’d believe that. I’ve certainly seen that with maths skills. I taught Mantissa Jr some basic concepts (counting, zero, addition and subtraction) when he was quite small and have kept him one step ahead of the curriculum pretty easily. It means he finds the maths schoolwork easy and fun. Will be interesting to see how long that keeps going.


“quite small”… how young?

have youngling myself and curious. (He’s 2 and can count to 2 so I’m expecting that next year he’ll count to 3, etc.,… like when I was 3 years old and weighed 3 stone and thought that it made sense that by the time I was 10 I’d be 10 stone, and 20 be 20 stone)


I think at primary level (and possible for whole of life) positive attitude to learning is more important than competence, although obviously competence breeds confidence breeds positive attitude.

My kids have scored highly in the standardized tests but I’ve never attempted to push them far beyond the level that they’re being taught at for fear of them getting bored.

I also have seen early high achievers marked out as gifted when young do really badly at university level because their sense of superiority was dashed against a wall of other people’s real ability and dedication.

You can instil a certain amount of positivity by simply repeating “maths is awesome, everything is maths” (and then citing examples) on a regular basis. People believe anything repeated often enough with conviction.