There has been a news flurry in Ireland recently in response to the launch of this year's QS university rankings on 8th September 2010, that placed Cambridge at number one, the first time a non-US university had held the spot.
More recently the THES launched the updated THEWUR (Times Higher Education World University Rankings) and this continues to have US dominance, with Harvard in the first place slot.
This is a nice visualisation showing the US and UK dominance of the THEWUR:
Note that QS did the rankings for the THE for the past 5 years, but this year the THES used Thomson Reuters for the first time. Harvard had been in first place for the previous five years in these rankings that QS published in association with Times Higher Education.
The concern in Ireland has been about slippage of our universities down these rankings, and the belief that this trend will continue if current university under-investment continues.
This Irish Times reported that 2 Irish universities are in the top 100 THEWUR:
Thu 16th Sep 2010: TCD at 76 and UCD at 94.
Ireland was ranked at 17 in the world for the overall quality of its higher education system. The US topped this ranking. The QS university rankings placed TCD at 52 and UCD at 114.