The University of Limerick has been named The Sunday Times University of the Year and University College Dublin is the runner-up in The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019. The special 16-page supplement will be published free with The Sunday Times this Sunday, November 4, with a fully searchable website and extended institutional profiles at for subscribers to The Times and The Sunday Times.

For the first time The Sunday Times Institute of Technology of the Year award has been shared between three institutions, awarded jointly to Dublin, Tallaght and Blanchardstown ITs.

The guide contains Ireland’s only league table that measures the performance of all 21 multi-faculty third-level institutions. The full rankings will be revealed on Sunday.

The University of Limerick is the University of the Year for the second time since the guide was first published in 2002, having previously won the award for 2015. First founded as the National Institute of Higher Education, Limerick in 1972, it is set to celebrate 30 years as a university in 2019. Graduates benefit from the University’s well-established work placement programme, with every undergraduate degree programme including an industry placement.

Each UL student – regardless of their area of study – undertakes six to eight months on a placement in a range of Irish or international industrial sectors. The University has close relationships with organisations such as Northern Trust, Johnson & Johnson, General Motors and biotechnology giant Regeneron.

The University maintains extremely high entry standards, with first-year students boasting the fourth-highest average number of Leaving Certificate points (460), and 89% continuing on to their second year – placing the university joint-fourth on progression rates.

University of Limerick has a noted reputation as a centre of research excellence for robotics, artificial intelligence and data analytics. This has led it to develop an off-site digital district, where the Confirm smart manufacturing centre will be located, a Science Foundation Ireland-funded third level consortium led by the University of Limerick and incorporating 42 industry partner companies.

The University also has the highest proportion of students at any university on Susi (Student Universal Support Ireland) grants and takes seriously its mission to offer third level opportunities to students from all backgrounds in the midwest and beyond, with more than a quarter (28%) of admissions from non-manual, unskilled or semi-skilled socioeconomic groups.

Alastair McCall, Editor of The Sunday Times Good University Guide, said: “A second success in five years for our University of the Year is well deserved. The University is at the economic heart of this midwest city and the wider region, attracting brains and resources in equal measure. Its graduates are among the most employable in Ireland, prepared for work by practical courses and a work placement and internship programme second to none, which spans 1,600 employers at home and overseas. 

“The University of Limerick’s excellent results in the annual Irish Survey of Student Engagement suggest its students appreciate their good fortune to be studying at an institution with both an excellent academic reputation and an eye firmly on the working world, for which it prepares its students so well.” 

Dr Desmond Fitzgerald, President of the University of Limerick, expressed his delight in winning the University of the Year title. “It raises the profile of the university hugely – among students, among the funders, among our industry partners. It raises the recognition internationally and our ability to attract students into the institution, so it’s fantastic.”

University College Dublin (UCD) is the runner-up for the University of the Year award in the new edition of The Sunday Times Good University Guide. The University is Ireland’s largest third-level institution and claims to have Europe’s largest urban campus.

UCD attracts a remarkable 30% of all overseas students based in Ireland, and, with student accommodation in increasingly high demand, it is increasing supply in the form of a huge development of 2,178 bedrooms. These facilities will also boast shops and other student village amenities.

In addition, a number of new degree courses have been added to its subject offering from 2018 across the arts, humanities and social sciences, such as city planning and environmental policy, and food business with Chinese.

The University attracts significant investment each year, and has the third highest research income in the country, amounting to €99.7m in 2017. It is also set to benefit from a €22m pledge from the

European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. The funding will be used by UCD, working with dairy giant Glanbia, to explore how by-products from the dairy industry can be converted into bio-products such as biodegradable plastics.

For the first time in its history, The Sunday Times Good University Guide has jointly awarded the Institute of Technology of the Year award to three institutions: Dublin, Blanchardstown and Tallaght ITs. The joint award recognises the three institutions that will together form the new Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) from January 1, 2019.

The new joint venture represents the biggest change in Irish third-level education in a generation, instantly becoming one of the largest third-level educators in the country, with some 28,500 students. A huge building programme is currently under way, and once complete TU Dublin will be spread across three campuses, at Grangegorman (DIT), Tallaght (IT Tallaght) and Blanchardstown (IT Blanchardstown).

TU Dublin is the culmination of years of close co-operation between the three institutions and is set to be the first of a number of TUs to be created in the coming years – with a Munster Technological University likely to follow shortly, followed by technological universities in Connacht and the southeast.

Alastair McCall said: “We have never made a joint award for either of our University and Institute of Technology titles before, but the exceptional achievement of getting the first Technological University over the line made an unanswerable case. Several years of thoughtful collaboration and planning have come together to create a potentially game-changing institution. The three institutions have different traditions and are on different scales but will come together to leave an indelible footprint across the capital city with no student too far from one of the three campuses. 

“When complete, the huge investment at Grangegorman, started by DIT, will provide flagship facilities for the new TU. Our award acknowledges the capacity that the new TU has to shake up third level education through inter-disciplinary study in areas key to the economic well-being of the country, while building on the strengths of the three constituent institutes of technology in continuing to make third level as accessible to the widest cross-section of society as possible.” 

Prof Brian Norton, Dr Diarmuid O’Callaghan and Thomas Stone, presidents of DIT, IT Blanchardstown and IT Tallaght respectively, welcomed the award. “We appreciate this joint award for our three institutions. Designation as Ireland’s first Technological University is the beginning of an exciting new chapter for DIT, ITB and ITT.   

“It is the culmination of several years of intensive planning and collaboration between colleagues at all levels across our three institutions and we are continuing to build on that work in preparation for the formal Appointment Day on 01 January 2019.  We now look forward to establishing this new kind of university that offers wide-ranging opportunities for our students and staff and contributes to the social, civic and economic life of Dublin and Ireland.” 

The Sunday Times Good University Guide is now in its 17th year of publication. It provides the definitive rankings for Irish third-level institutions, together with profiles of each institution and a view from students of what it is like to study there. It also contains the first full listing of 2019 degree courses and the first-round entry points needed to access these courses from the recently-completed 2018 admissions cycle.

There is a tablet edition, plus extended online coverage, at, which features fully searchable tables on each of the eight measures on which institutions are ranked, together with extended profiles of each. It also contains full access to the newspaper’s UK university guide published on September 23.