21 October 2017 Register to receive our free newsletter by email each week
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US: Decoding learning gains
Throughout the world, interest in gauging learning outcomes at all levels of education has grown considerably over the past decade. In higher education, measuring 'learning outcomes' is viewed by many stakeholders as a relatively new method to judge the 'value added' of colleges and universities. The potential to accurately measure learning gains is also viewed as a diagnostic tool for institutional self-improvement, write Gregg Thomson and John Aubrey Douglass in a new paper for the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California Berkeley.
US: The business of higher education
In recent years, colleges and universities have encountered increasing pressure to operate like businesses. As the logic goes, businesses must survive in a cutthroat climate of unfettered competition and, thus, their organisations need to be leaner, more efficient and more responsive to the needs of their customers than not-for-profit organisations, such as colleges and universities.
CANADA: Is medical science for sale?
Are medical researchers and journals too close to the pharmaceutical industry for comfort - or patient safety? Sergio Sismondo, a professor of philosophy at Queen's University, interrogates this pertinent and controversial issue in an article titled "Medical Publishing and the Drug Industry: Is medical science for sale?" in the current edition of the Canadian journal Academic Matters.
GLOBAL: Academic manager or managed academic
The relationship between values and academic identity has received scant attention in the higher education literature with some notable exceptions. This paper contends that the perceived need to align all academics around corporate values and goals has given rise to academic identity schisms in higher education.
GLOBAL: Establishing world-class universities
Even in a global knowledge economy, where every nation, both industrial and developing, is seeking to increase its share of the economic pie, the hype surrounding world-class institutions far exceeds the need and capacity for many systems to benefit from such advanced education and research opportunities, at least in the short term. (The Challenge of Establishing World-Class Universities)
GLOBAL: Students benefit from online chat rooms
The social environment prevailing within higher education institutions in has seen many changes in recent years. Information technological tools such as internet chat rooms could be one of the cheapest and student-friendly tools universities could use to meet the social and psychological needs of their students.
AUSTRALIA: Dirt poor PhDs live below the breadline
In the last quarter of 2008, a significant group of Australians was living below the poverty line. For a single person, this meant living on less than A$415.06 (US$311) a week. These people were working full-time 40 hours a week, and probably much more. They received no employer superannuation and weren't entitled to concessions or pensions.
US: Animal research helps animals too
Last month, the FBI released a wanted poster on America's first domestic terrorist. Daniel Andreas San Diego, shown here, an animal rights extremist, is being sought for alleged arson attacks on biotechnology companies in California. The FBI is offering a bounty of up to $250,000 for information leading to his arrest.
US: Higher education on the move
Global higher education mobility has grown by 57% since 1999, with more than 2.9 million students seeking education abroad, according to Higher Education on the Move: New Developments in Global Mobility, the second in the Series of Global Education Research Reports published last week by the Institute of International Education with support from the AIFS Foundation. It argues that the dramatic rise in numbers of mobile students can partly be attributed to worldwide growth in higher education.
CANADA: Open access - promises and challenges
Have you 'googled' yourself lately? Have you wondered why some of your publications did not show up in the search results? Have you ever tried to access one of your own journal articles online, only to be asked to pay US$30 by the publisher? Why are articles by some of your colleagues freely available online in full text even though they were also originally published in commercial journals? Is this permissible? Why is Google Scholar showing that your colleagues' articles are cited more than yours? Why is your institution's library paying millions of dollars each year for journal subscriptions and yet you are still unable to access some of the journals you need for your research?
US: Higher learning, greater good
In a just-published book, titled Higher Learning, Greater Good: The private and social benefits of higher education, education economist Walter W McMahon describes the significant social and private benefits of tertiary study.
US: Tackling higher education's leadership scarcity
Higher education leadership search committees are faced with an uncomfortable reality: it is increasingly difficult to find superior candidates. In addition, once a position is filled, another pain point often emerges - the average number of years that a leader stays in a particular position continues to decline. What was once considered questionable or marginal tenure in a role is becoming increasingly common and accepted. It is no less concerning, however - three years, for example, remains a very short time to demonstrate substantive leadership impact.
EUROPE-US: Governance and performance of universities
A new report by the National Bureau of Economic Research, titled The Governance and Performance of Research Universities: Evidence from Europe and the US, investigates how university governance affects research output, measured by patenting and international university research rankings.
US: Do we need technology workers?
An interesting set of articles by six US academics was featured last week in the continuing series on immigration being published by The New York Times blog, Room for Debate. Last week the series examined the issue of skilled foreign-born workers, many of whom are in the US on temporary guest-worker visas. For high-tech industries, particularly, foreign-born workers on temporary visas are an important labour pool. Many of these workers arrived in the US as students and stay on through the H-1B programme.
CANADA: Reflections on university press publishing
Developments over the last few decades have changed some of the primary concerns of scholarly book publishers within university presses. The enterprise of publishing remains a vital part of the ecology of the academy, but the future direction of book publishing is unclear. The future is less apocalyptic than some may believe, but there is no question that there are challenges that need to be addressed by the publishing community.
US: The centrality of the academic profession
In 1992, Bill Clinton was elected president of the United States in considerable part by emphasising the importance of the economy. His mantra - "It's the economy, stupid!" - focused this point. For higher education, the mantra should be "It's the faculty, stupid!". In fact, no university can achieve success without a well-qualified, committed academic profession.
GLOBAL: What are universities for?
The title of this article should be a FAQ - that is, a frequently asked question. My contention is that the question, 'What are universities for?' is not asked enough, and that it tends not to be answered in a cogent and realistic way by those best placed to do so, that is by academics.
AUSTRALIA: The global research race
Many countries around the world are pressing ahead with building their research systems, even during the global recession, through economic stimulus measures that include targeted investments in research. They include the US and China, Norway, France and Germany.
US-EUROPE: The power of partnerships
"Around the world, institutions are facing intensified competition at home and abroad, more insistent public demands for accountability, pressures to both widen access and contribute to economic development through research, stagnating public funding and a growing role of the market. In this environment, 'going it alone' may not be useful as a dominant strategy," argues The Power of Partnerships: A transatlantic dialogue, an essay recently published by the American Council on Education, based on the outcomes of the 11th Transatlantic Dialogue of 28 university leaders from North America and Europe.
Special Report
A special report published last week in SciDev.net - the online publication reporting on science and technology for the developing world - looked at higher education's role in achieving development goals and the roles of governments and funding organisations in building robust higher education systems. The articles below are among several featured in the series and follow a comprehensive background article that probes donor funding for higher education in developing countries over the last half century.
GLOBAL: Research governance policies threaten capacity
Around the world, research-based knowledge is believed to enhance socio-economic development. So funding agencies, including governments, are pushing universities to focus on 'usable' research outputs. The way they bring this pressure to bear, through 'research governance', can either support and facilitate university research or hinder it, sometimes even damaging a university's existing strengths.
GLOBAL: New thinking needed on innovation infrastructure
Rapid technological changes and more sophisticated societies generate changing needs in developing countries and old methods, technologies and choices are not coping. More innovative approaches are required to tackle social conundrums and to clear paths for progress. The ingredients for these must be the information, experiences and skills people get through higher education.
US: The 'black box' of peer review
Countless decisions in academe are based on the quest for excellence. Which professors to hire and promote, writes Scott Jaschik for Inside Higher Ed.
EUROPE: Coimbra Group position paper on Bologna
At their annual conference last year the Coimbra Group, an association of 37 long-standing and internationally respected European universities, reflected on the European higher education landscape in view of the 2010 deadline for the Bologna Process. The universities "enthusiastically embraced" Bologna and the increased trans-national transparency it promotes, but highlighted critical issues that need to be addressed in the years to come. Last week the association published a freely accessible Position Paper The Coimbra Group and European Higher Education after Bologna 2010
CANADA: Recession's impact on post-secondary education
Governments could assist universities to survive the recession - and perhaps be in a position to thrive once the recovery arrives - by helping to pay for salary restructuring, not letting enrolment formulas constrain institutions from meeting shifting demand, allowing tuition to increase while protecting effective student aid programmes, and funding brains not buildings. This is according to a new report from Canada's Educational Policy Institute, On the Brink: How the recession of 2009 will affect post-secondary education, which looks at "profound effects the recession will have on both revenues and expenditures in the post-school sector".