Irish universities have fallen behind in a table that ranks their performance against that of other colleges worldwide.

The latest QS World University rankings show a drop for most universities in Ireland, with NUI Galway experiencing the most dramatic fall, down 66 places to 298.

Trinity College Dublin is 65th in the rankings, a fall of 13 places, while University College Dublin dropped 20 places to 134th.

Dublin City University recorded an increase in its ranking from 330 in 2010 to 326 for 2011. It had been ranked 279th in 2009.

University College Cork also saw a rise to 181 from 184 last year. It was ranked 386th in 2006.

UCC is also the first Irish university to achieve a five-star rating in the rankings. The new rating system was introduced by QS to simplify the comparison of universities on an international basis.

It reviews participating universities on research, employability, teaching, infrastructure, internationalisation, innovation, engagement and specialisations.

UCC president Dr Michael Murphy said the ranking reflected the hard work of the entire UCC community and described it as an outstanding achievement.

The student body at UCC is around 20,000, with around 2,800 overseas students on campus.

Trinity Provost Dr Patrick Prendergast said the university continues to compete at the highest international level and is the only university in Ireland to feature in the top 100 despite the decrease in funding of higher education in Ireland.

QS individual subject rankings earlier this year placed Trinity in the top 50 universities in the world for English Language and Literature, History, Chemistry, Physics and Psychology, while Mathematics ranked in the top 15.

Dr Prendergast said the drop in their overall position was to be expected, especially given the decrease in funding levels.

He said a world class university "requires resourcing at internationally competitive levels and for Trinity to sustain its position and increase further worldwide requires adequate investment in the university sector".