“AN INTERNATIONAL perspective and willingness to think big” have made the University of Limerick the winner of the Sunday Times’ university of the year.
The university’s “unmatched natural environment in an Irish beauty spot” and its world class facilities, along with graduate employability, strong research commercialisation, and a rising academic performance were among the reasons for the award.
“Limerick is one of the country’s youngest universities, and also one of the most nimble,” said Alastair McCall, editor of The Sunday Times Good University Guide.
University College Cork was named the runner up this year, while Galway-Mayo IT was named as Institute of Technology of the year, with IT Carlow being named as the runner up in that category.
The success of UL’s relatively new journalism school is also highlighted in the guide, noting that Fintan Walsh, who did his work placement with the Limerick Leader, was named Journalist of the Year at the Students Media Awards, while Robert McNamara won Sunday Times Young Journalist of the Year.
UL also has the largest Erasmus - or study abroad - programme in the country, with one in three of its students going abroad. Its contribution to the local community, in terms of reaching out to the Regeneration areas was also noted.
“Taking big, bold steps is characteristic of the UL ethos. One of Ireland’s youngest universities, it recognised early on that in order to set itself apart in the national market, it needed to be doing things differently,” they state.
UL’s 70% graduate employment rate for 2013 primary degree-holders is now 18% higher than the Higher Education Authority’s most recently-available national average figure which is 52% for 2012.
The guide specifically highlights the €52m science and engineering initiative known as the Bernal Project, involving 10 professorships, as an example of its innovation, which has attracted one of the world’s top 20 research chemists to move to UL from Florida.
UL’s ranking in the guide appears at odds with the QS world university rankings, which placed it as the sixth best in the country.