Wednesday, 21 February 2024

A commitment to excellence, innovation, and sustainability has propelled University of Limerick (UL) into the Top 500 universities in the world. 

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2024 showed that UL moved into the 401-500 bracket out of the 1,904 universities ranked globally, marking a significant improvement on the previous year’s 601-800 placing. 

It is the biggest year on year move of the universities in Ireland in the annual rankings, something that UL President Professor Kerstin Mey said demonstrated the “unwavering dedication and commitment of our university community in the pursuit of excellence and innovation. Together, we have forged a path of excellence and innovation that propels us forward, shaping a brighter future for all. In doing so, we have achieved a milestone that reflects the power of collective effort and the limitless potential of University of Limerick.” 

“Improving university world rankings holds immense significance for a research-led institution committed to excellence, innovation, and sustainability. These rankings are not just numbers or symbols of prestige, they reflect a university’s global standing and its impact on society,” Professor Mey added. 

The most significant increases for UL were seen in the Research Quality and Industry pillars, reflecting UL’s increasing strength and depth in its research excellence and collaborative links with industrial partners across the region, nationally and globally. 

The methodology used for the 2024 rankings included significant updates with the introduction of a wider range of bibliometric measures, improving international metrics, and expanding the role for knowledge transfer, acknowledging the evolving role that universities now play in society. 

These changes better reflect excellent and wide-ranging work that is being carried out across UL and the impact this work is having as we deal with global challenges, while addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

These rankings not only reflect a university’s global impact but also serve as catalysts for attracting talent, fostering research, engaging with the community, and driving positive change. By striving for higher rankings, UL can position itself to be a leader in addressing the complex challenges of our time and shaping a more sustainable and innovative future. 

Strong Foundations 

Spurred on by UL turning 50 years old, UL’s overall improvements are down to clear strategies supported by implementation plans designed to meet the aims and objectives. 

A recalibration of the UL@50 strategic plan added, as a priority, the need to implement a high-performance research support infrastructure and to also embed sustainability into each of the strategic goals. 

While a new cross university Rankings working group led by the Office of the Vice President Research was set up focusing exclusively on rankings submissions to support UL’s submissions to the various rankings’ agencies, thus ensuring that all data submitted reflects the actual performance of the university. 

UL Vice President Research, Professor Norelee Kennedy has spearheaded the implementation of the university’s ambitious research strategy Wisdom for Action, whose mission is to build a vibrant community where research excellence is valued, supported and central to all facets of our organisation. 

Success in research-led universities is underpinned by an international reputation for research excellence. We have set clear goals to support research excellence across all disciplines. 

Wisdom for Action outlines the pathway to bolster our strengths while creating a culture which enables talent to flourish. Achieving this will require collaboration, innovation and a firm commitment to the importance research holds for our future. Everyone at University of Limerick is playing their part in supporting research excellence as a point of pride and to enhance our reputation. 

Professor Kennedy said: “Ireland is intensifying its commitment to building a knowledge-based economy in the competitive global environment. A world-leading research environment generates and attracts talent, produces research which addresses grand challenges, supports resilience in our economy, enables greater mobility and fosters a culture where there is shared appreciation of the contribution research and innovation has for nearly every aspect of our lives. The importance of strong foundations of research excellence is a focus of this strategy as we seek to build for the future.” 

“This ambition is not just for ourselves and our disciplines, but for the communities we serve. In consulting with our community, we have a clear mandate to take on current challenges and ensure future growth. Leadership comes in many forms, and at UL, we pride ourselves in our role as champions for diversity, equality and inclusivity. We are attracting and developing a diverse and highly motivated community of research leaders who strive for excellence in their fields,” she added. 

The Times Higher ranking reaffirms the improvements that UL has achieved in several prestigious global rankings in the past year. 

UL jumped more than 100 places to be ranked 426th in the QS World University Rankings, while THE also ranked UL as the 86th best university in the world for delivering on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

For UL, a research-led university that seeks to attract and inspire the world’s brightest minds, being ranked in the Top 500 is an important milestone in consolidating our presence amongst the world’s top universities. 

By focusing on research excellence and working together, UL will continue to improve, in what is an increasingly competitive sector. 

And this can only be a positive for society as a whole. 

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