NUI Galway has been named 'University of the Year 2018' in the Sunday Times University Guide, securing the prestigious accolade for a third time, having won the inaugural title in 2002 and again in 2009.
Outperforming 21 other third-level institutions, NUI Galway's strong reputation as a centre of excellence in relation to medical technology, its excellence across the arts and sciences, its impressive progression rates as well as having the best job prospects of any other Irish university were among the reasons for the award.
Alastair McCall, Editor of The Sunday Times Good University Guide, said: “In the eight years since NUI Galway last won our University of the Year award it has continued to grow its global reputation as one of the great seats of learning. Some of its academics are among the most cited in the world and its reputation spans the arts and the sciences. The university brought in more than €65m of research income last year, evidence of the cutting edge at which many of the academics operate.
"It is also pivotal to the regional economy, rooted in its community and playing an active role at all levels. Its students are encouraged to volunteer and be part of that community and not just come to Galway as educational tourists. When Galway is the European Capital of Culture in 2020, the university will be at its heart; the newly-opened O'Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance a bold statement of the importance of the arts to the university.
"Its triumph in this year's University of the Year award is also a tribute to the leadership of University President, Dr Jim Browne, whose 10-year term of office ends early next year. He leaves NUI Galway in a position of great strength, ready to make further progress in world and national university rankings, and offering a distinctive third level education to future generations of students.”
The award is not only based on league table position but on an assessment under 22 criteria on the university's role on a local, national and international level
“We are very well attuned to the needs of the country and the region,” says Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway. “We try to orient our programmes to support the ambition of our students and the needs of our economy in the longer term. We also try to have an appropriate balance of traditional academic scholarship and work-based learning. We have a target that 80% of our undergraduate students would have experiential learning.”
Dr Browne added: “Our students and staff are the vital ingredient that make this University truly special and this award acknowledges their creativity, innovation and hard work. The ambition here knows no bounds and I am confident that we are on a path for even greater renown for this institution and the region.”
Sunday Times University of the Year Statement
The University, which excels across the arts and sciences, has seen considerable recent investment. Michael D Higgins, President of Ireland, opened the O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance in April and a medical academy has come on stream in Donegal, in the grounds of Letterkenny University Hospital.
The University has a reputation as a centre of excellence in relation to medical technology, as evidenced by the launch in September 2016 of Cúram, Science Foundation Ireland's (SFI ) centre for research in medical devices. The centre promotes links between academia and industry partners. The SFI and various companies will invest €49m over six years, with €19m more in funding coming from the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme.
The quality of academic staff at NUI Galway is also crucial to the university’s success, with a number of professors such as Dr Henry Curran, Professor Colin O’Dowd, Professor Donal O’Regan and Dr Ronan Sulpice named among the world’s most highly cited researchers in an analysis of published research by multinational group Clarivite Analytics.
Research citations have helped the university rise further up the international university rankings this year. Academics garnered around €89,000 per head in research income in the Good University Guide’s latest survey of research power.
NUI Galway boasts the best job prospects of any university in the republic with an impressively low three per cent graduate unemployment rate, together with one of the best progression rates, which sees 88% of students complete their studies.
More than 260 students took part in NUI Galway access and foundation courses this year, with 150 receiving an offer of entry. In total, the access programme office has 1,100-plus undergraduates on its books.
NUI Galway's openness to alternative means of teaching and learning is evident, too, in its work with the Irish language. The university is close to the Connemara Gaeltacht, the largest Irish-speaking area in the country and as such NUI Galway celebrates and promotes the Irish language offering classes from beginner to advanced level as well as programmes taught through the medium of Irish.
NUI Galway has been the only university in Ireland to rise consistently in the most competitive World University Rankings. Both the QS and Times Higher Education Rankings have placed the University in a higher position year-on-year, and the University is now counted among the Top 250 universities in both rankings. According to QS, NUI Galway is among the Top 1% of universities in the world.