Top universities in Ireland 2021 | Top Universities

Top universities in Ireland 2021

By Chloe Lane

Updated June 1, 2023 Updated June 1, 2023
  • Eight Irish Universities are featured in the QS World University Rankings 2021.
  • The top ranking university in Ireland is Trinity College Dublin (TCD) in joint 101st globally.

Ireland is home to eight universities in the QS World University Rankings 2021. Of these, five can be found in the global top 500.

Trinity College Dublin (TCD) is the best Irish university this year, rising seven places in the global index.

The rankings are based on a methodology which assesses each university on six indicators including its academic and employer reputations, research impact and more.

Read on for a closer look at the country’s eight top universities.

QS World University Rankings 2021 – Top Universities in Ireland

Irish rank

Global rank




Trinity College Dublin (TCD)



University College Dublin (UCD)



National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG)



University College Cork (UCC)



Dublin City University (DCU)



University of Limerick (UL)



Maynooth University



Technological University of Dublin

8. Technological University of Dublin

Technological University of Dublin

Image: William Murphy on Flickr

Kicking off our list of the best universities in Ireland is the Technological University of Dublin (TU Dublin), placing 801-1000 globally. TU Dublin is Ireland’s first Technological University, founded in 2019. The school boasts a high employment rate, with 93 percent of its students in employment or further higher education within nine months of graduating.

TU Dublin is incredibly diverse, with 29,700 students from 138 different nationalities. The university has three campuses overall: in the heart of Dublin city and also in Blanchardstown and Tallaght – two of the largest areas of Dublin. TU Dublin is currently building a fourth campus in central Dublin which they hope will be ready by 2022.

7. Maynooth University

Maynooth University

In seventh place in Ireland and 701-750 in the world rankings is Maynooth University. Maynooth University was originally established as an autonomous university in 1997 but traces its origins back to the foundation of the Royal College of St Patrick in 1795.

Today, the school teaches more than 13,000 students from 90 countries. It is incredibly internationally focused, offering a wide range of international programmes and partnerships. It earns its highest score this year in the international faculty indicator, ranking 210th worldwide.

6. University of Limerick (UL)

University of Limerick

Image: Kilkenny Limestone on Flickr

The University of Limerick (UL) places 511-520 globally and sixth in Ireland this year. Located on the west coast of Ireland along the River Shannon, UL enjoys unspoiled natural surroundings.

UL has strong links to business and industry and as a result its graduates experience a 15 percent higher employment rate than the national average. The school pioneered the concept of Cooperative Education in Ireland which helps to place more than 2,000 of its students in paid and semi-paid work placements each year.

5. Dublin City University (DCU)

Dublin City University

Entering the global top 500, Dublin City University (DCU) places in joint 439th globally and fifth in Ireland. DCU was founded in 1975 and has three campuses across Dublin.

DCU is focused on increasing its students’ employability and building transferable skills. It was Ireland’s first higher education institution to integrate workplace internships (INTRA) into their undergraduate courses. This may contribute to the high score they received in the most recent QS Employability Rankings (301-500).

4. University College Cork (UCC)

University College Cork

University College Cork (UCC) ranks fourth in Ireland and places 286th globally, rising an incredible 24 places in the index this year. It is significantly older than some of the other Irish universities featured in the rankings, founded in 1849. UCC now has a student population of over 21,000.

UCC’s campus is set on 42 acres of wooded ground and is only a 10-minute walk from Cork city centre. It is Ireland’s leading research institution and earns a high score in the international faculty indicator.

3. National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG)

National University of Ireland, Galway

Placing in third in Ireland and joint 238th globally, the National University of Ireland in Galway falls eight places in the index this year. Despite this drop, it earns particularly high scores in the faculty-student ratio and the international faculty indicators.

The National University of Ireland in Galway was founded in 1845. Since then it has grown massively in both size and reputation, now having a student population of more than 18,000. NUIG offers an extensive list of undergraduate and postgraduate courses, as well as part-time degrees, flexible learning and online learning options.

2. University College Dublin (UCD)

University College Dublin

In joint 177th place globally, up eight positions this year, is University College Dublin (UCD). UCD is the second-best university in Ireland for another year running. It teaches around 30,000 students from 136 different countries.

The school earns one of Ireland’s best scores in the academic reputation indicator, beaten only by Trinity College Dublin. UCD’s flexible curriculum and research-led learning taught by top academic staff mean that students graduate with an internationally accredited degree from a university in the top one percent worldwide.

1. Trinity College Dublin (TCD)

Trinity College Dublin (TCD)

Trinity College Dublin (TCD) one again takes the title of the best university in Ireland. With its Trinity campus is located in the heart of Dublin, TCD ranks in joint 101st place in the World University Rankings 2021, rising seven positions this year.

Founded in 1592, the university is steeped in history with a reputation for excellence in education, research and innovation. It is the only Irish member of the prestigious League of 22 European Research Universities (LERU). TCD’s impressive alumni include writers Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett; scientists William Rowan Hamilton and Earnest Walton, and the political thinker Edmund Burke.

This article was originally published in March 2021 . It was last updated in June 2023

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Written by

As Content Editor for and, Chloe creates and publishes a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. Chloe has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Reading and grew up in Leicestershire, UK. 

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