During the peak of "The Celtic Tiger" Ireland had the fourth lowest level of spending on education among the 31 members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

This news comes as Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin both slip from their previous high international rankings.

The annual OECD Education at a Glance report shows that Ireland is close to the bottom of the international league table in terms of spending on education as a percentage of gross domestic product or total income.

While on average countries in the OECD spent 6.3 percent on education Ireland only spends 4.7 percent. This figure only exceeds the Czech Republic, Italy and Slovakia. It also shows that spending since 1995 has fallen, when 5.2 percent was spent on education.

Ireland was one of the only countries making cuts on higher education as student numbers increased.

Peter MacMenamin, the Teachers Union of Ireland general secretary said Ireland's education service had been “routinely asset stripped” by the Government.

Labour’s Ruairí Quinn told the Irish Times "At a time when there seemed to be no shortage of cash to spend on ill-conceived vanity projects and half-baked schemes like PPARS and electronic voting, many of our schoolchildren were languishing in overcrowded classes, and in schools that were housed in clapped-out prefabs.”

A separate study carried out by the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings showed that Trinity College Dublin (TCD) has dropped from the world's top 50 universities and University College Dublin (UCD) from the top 100.

TCD slipped from 43 in 2009 to 52, while UCD moves from 89 to 114.

Outside of Dublin universities fared better. University College Cork was up from 207 to 184 and NUI Galway up from 243 to 232. DCU moves from 279 to 330. UL and NUI Maynooth are again ranked between 400 and 500.

Dr Hugh Brady, UCD president said the results of the survey were not unexpected. He said "While Irish universities are cash-starved, other countries are investing solidly in their third and fourth-level sectors.”

Trinity College, Dublin