Trinity College Dublin tops the third level rankings in the new edition of The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020, a free 16-page supplement published today in The Sunday Times (November 3). It provides the definitive rankings for Irish universities and the most comprehensive overview of higher education in the country. A fully-searchable website containing exclusive tables and extended profiles of 20 of Ireland’s leading third-level destinations is published at for subscribers to The Sunday Times and The Times.

The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020 includes profiles of this year’s University and Institute of Technology of the Year, and assesses all 20 higher education institutions on eight criteria. For the first time, the new Technological University of Dublin is included in the tables.

Irish Third Level Rankings 2020

This year’s national rank Last year’s national rank Name Student satisfaction (%) Graduate unemployment (%) Progression rate (%)
1 1 Trinity College Dublin 47.8 3 92
2= 3 University College Dublin 50.6 3 92
2= 2 University College Cork 48.6 3 93
4 5 NUI Galway 50.3 2 89
5 4 University of Limerick 49.1 2 89
6 6 Dublin City University 49.8 3 92
7 9 Athlone Institute of Technology 51.5 8 87
8 7 Waterford Institute of Technology 47.3 5 85
9 8 Cork Institute of Technology 47.1 4 88
10 10 IT Tralee 47.9 9 87
11 15 IT Sligo 46.8 8 86
12 12 Maynooth University 49.5 4 90
13= 13 Dundalk Institute of Technology 49.5 5 84
13= 14 Limerick Institute of Technology 49.5 5 84
15 n/a Technological University Dublin 47.7 5 85
16 16 Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology 51.0 7 81
17 17 Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Dun Laoghaire 50.3 8 89
18 18= Letterkenny Institute of Technology 50.1 13 84
19 18= IT Carlow 49.5 6 85

For the 18th successive year, Trinity tops The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020 third-level league table. It has the highest spend on facilities and services of any Irish third-level institution and attracts by far the best qualified students, who enter the university with 520 Leaving Certificate points on average. Its dominance of the research ratings, with by far the highest research income per member of academic staff of any institution, makes it particularly hard to dislodge Trinity from top spot.

Student satisfaction plays a critical role in influencing this year’s Sunday Times rankings for third-level institutions. Introduced into The Sunday Times Good University Guide rankings last year, it has been given the heaviest weighting; ensuring students have a significant input into where their institution ranks.

The extra four points University College Dublin, The Sunday Times Good University Guide’s Irish University of the Year, scores for student satisfaction, measured by the annual Irish Survey of Student Engagement (ISSE), compared with University College Cork (UCC) helps it finish level with UCC in second place this year. Both institutions significantly outscore Trinity College Dublin in this measure helping to close the gap on Ireland’s number one.

Athlone, The Sunday Times Good University Guide Institute of Technology of the Year, returns the best scores for student satisfaction of all institutions. It also has by far the highest participation rate in the survey. The extra 11 points Athlone scores compared with Waterford IT under our analysis of the outcomes of the 2018 ISSE, ensured it finished ahead of WIT in our rankings making it the leading institute of technology in The Sunday Times Good University Guide leaguetable.

This year The Sunday Times Good University Guide provides the first opportunity to assess the standing of the new Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin). It is ranked 15th on debut, although much of the data used to rank it is derived from its three predecessor institutions, Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) and the ITs of Blanchardstown and Tallaght. The latter two occupied the bottom two places in last year’s Sunday Times Good University Guide, therefore, it’s not surprising that the outcome represents a fall on the 11th place occupied by DIT last year. It will be at least two years before TU Dublin can be ranked on data generated since the three former ITs were brought together.

The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020 published today provides students and their parents with an invaluable first reference point on the path to finding a university place. It contains full profiles of all universities and institutes of technology, assessing them on student satisfaction levels, Leaving Certificate points achieved by incoming students, research income, employment prospects for graduates, student to staff ratio, progression rate, expenditure on facilities and the academic achievement of their students.

A fully searchable website and extended institutional profiles are available at for subscribers to The Times and The Sunday Times.