By Caoimhe Killeen
NUI Galway has moved up one place to fourth in the Sunday Times’ Irish Good University Guide for 2020. The guide assesses the quality of nineteen facilities around Ireland and NUI Galway ranked only behind University College Cork, University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin.
Universities were tested across a range of categories, including Leaving Certificate points for entry, research, student-staff ratio, rate of first-class honours and 2:1 degrees achieved, progression rate and money invested in facilities and services.
Other factors also taken into consideration were the numbers of mature or overseas students studying at the university, students from socio-economically disadvantages backgrounds, flexible learners and sports facilities.
The heaviest weighting was placed on student satisfaction, tested by means of the ISSE (Irish Survey of Student Engagement) carried out annually on students in Irish institutions in the spring of each year. The ISSE is designed to focus on student engagement – namely the amount of time and effort that students put into meaningful and purposeful educational activities and the extent to which institutions provide such opportunities and encourage students to engage with them.
This new marking criteria added in the 2018 survey used a sixty-point scale across nine areas of student experience. These areas were effective teaching practices, higher order learning, reflective and integrative learning, student faculty interaction, overall quality of these interactions, a supportive academic environment, collaborative learning and quotative reasonings. An average was calculated to produce an overall score for each institution, with NUI Galway scoring 125 points in total, placing them in third place.
Despite achieving joint first position with UL in the Employment section, indicating the number of students who enter the workforce after graduation, a significant drop came in the form of the CAO median points, where NUI Galway dropped from third to sixth position on the league tables.
Claire Austick, President of the NUI Galway Students’ Union, said: “The University rankings are not always truly reflective of an Institution and the best way to measure student success. Having a focus on ISSE, in my opinion, is hugely beneficial. A university’s success, in terms of students, should be measured by the quality of courses offered, the engagement with students, student-staff ratios, extracurricular activities available (i.e sports and societies), support services they provide and by empowering students to reach their full potential academically and through personal growth”.