26 July 2017 Register to receive our free newsletter by email each week
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UK: Promotion ladder too hard to climb
Women in British universities hit the proverbial glass ceiling at the senior level. Latest figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show that women account for 42% of lecturers and researchers but only 16.5% make it to professorial level and just 16% reach the top job of vice-chancellor or rector.
FRANCE: Slow progress towards parity
A young generation of women is making progress up the academic ladder in France, but men still monopolise senior posts in universities.
CANADA: Women in science find negative equations
For every four men who have earned a science and engineering doctorate in Canada, only one woman holds that same degree. Laval Univerity’s Nadia Ghazzali, who holds a chair that studies the issue and tries to reverse the numbers, has been looking at what is at play in the stagnating numbers.
AUSTRALIA: Helping women to aim high
One Australian university stands out in the way it encourages women on its staff to aim high – while helping them achieve their goals and their promotions.
FRANCE: Students protest against new law
Student protests against the French government’s university reforms and lack of funding are spreading throughout France. Several thousand protesters demonstrated in towns around the country and closed 20 universities.
GREECE: Revolting students attack education cuts
University students across Greece are supporting striking school pupils who have occupied more than 500 schools. Thousands of others are refusing to enter their classrooms.
PAKISTAN: Student protests build
The steady rumbling of dissent on university campuses across Pakistan is an ominous development for the country's military regime, reports the Christian Science Monitor. Student activists in Pakistan have a history of effecting dramatic political change.
GERMANY: A new passage to India
Germany’s Education and Science Ministry has announced a new €4.3 million ($6.3 million) a year package to enable German students and academics to gain more experience in India. The ‘new passage to India’ follows a four-day visit by Chancellor Angela Merkel to the Asian country, which received extensive press coverage and was hailed a considerable success.
UK-AFRICA: Greater collaboration urged between Africa and Britain
Collaboration between academics in Africa and Britain would be vastly improved by a far greater understanding of the difficulties faced by staff in African universities, a new report concludes.
UK: Funding cuts hit the Open University
The Open University is set to lose millions in funding if the Government presses ahead with plans to change its spending policy on students. And thousands of part-time mature students will be left without funding from 2008.
SPAIN: Witchcraft popular in academe
Witchcraft as an academic subject has never been as popular as it is today, says Spanish historian Dr Maria Tausiet. Forums regularly take place at university level and students are increasingly choosing it as a course option.
University rankings in the news
Last week, the Times Higher Education Supplement published its annual top 200 university rankings while Shanghai Jiao Tong University released its top 500 listing in August. League tables of universities have become more numerous and influential as the years go by, yet cross-country and national comparisons between institutions are more controversial than ever.

In this issue of World University News we have an exclusive account of an OECD report that reveals the huge impact rankings are having on universities around the world. We also look at the THES’s own response to criticisms of its methodology, and at reactions to rankings in different countries.

In our features section, Ireland’s Professor Ellen Hazelkorn writes about the OECD report she prepared while Australian academics Paul Taylor and Richard Braddock comment on the two main international rankings and suggest how an ideal system might look. As well, the University of Melbourne’s Simon Marginson describes how rankings capture public attention and shape the behaviour of universities and policy-makers.
OECD: Worldwide ‘obsession’ with league tables
Higher education institutions worldwide are much more concerned about league tables and ranking systems than expected, an OECD investigation has found. “There appears to be a near obsession with the status and trajectory of the top 100,” a report of the investigation states. This despite the fact that there are 17,000 higher education institutions around the globe.
UK: Few surprises in new THES rankings
Higher education institutions in the United Kingdom and the United States again dominate this year's university world rankings compiled by the Times Higher Education Supplement and publisher QS. Once again, Harvard, Oxbridge and Yale top the list.
SOUTH AFRICA: Universities set priorities for research
South Africa is among three dozen countries that make it into the top 500 of world university rankings. Unable to compete against the best on Earth across all fields, some local universities are building excellence in a few disciplines where they are able to shine internationally – and thereby attract top researchers and students.
GERMANY: Ranking on the basis of teaching
An online site that allows students to rate the teaching performance of their university lecturers has come up with a ranking of 110 German higher education institutions based on more than 250,000 entries the site has received since it was introduced in 2005.
FRANCE: International rankings – must do better
France’s higher education and research community greets the publication of successive international academic rankings with a mixture of gloom, indignation and soul-searching, as it sees its universities and elite schools languishing in the middle and lower places – if they appear at all.
AUSTRALIA: Resources boom outruns graduate supply
Booming economies around the world are experiencing a desperate shortage of skilled workers. Australia is in a worse position than most because of government failure to provide sufficient university places, according to a report available today exclusively for University World News.
GREECE: Education funding reduced despite GNP rise
With only a 6% increase in next year’s budget, which the Greek Chancellor will table in Parliament this month, education is once again treated as a poor relation compared with hefty increases for defence (8.3%), health (9.4%) and public order (8.7%).
EU: European court declares grant rules illegal
The European Court of Justice has declared illegal rules that insist European Union students wanting to study in another EU state must continue a course subject they have already begun in their home country – if they want to receive a grant from the government of the country where they normally live.
RUSSIA: British Council staff in trouble
In what appears to be an escalation of the row between Russia and Britain, Russia has told the British Council that its staff can no longer work on diplomatic premises. Under a 1994 agreement, the UK government-funded council’s mandate is to promote educational, cultural and scientific exchanges.
CHINA: Chinese students to dominate world market
Students from mainland China who go abroad to study far outnumber those from any other country and they will continue to increase their domination of the international student market for decades to come.
SAUDI ARABIA: Breaking down the gender divide
A new postgraduate research university in Saudi Arabia aims to take the kingdom’s tertiary education in a new direction – more in line with the government's aim of reducing youth unemployment. King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) also intends to promote greater intellectual freedom and to create a more liberal teaching environment.
US: Academics face the generation gap
David Madsen, associate professor of history at Seattle University who teaches ancient history and Latin, recently regaled a group of students about his own experiences in Washington, DC, during the 1992 presidential campaign. It was an event relatively recent in his memory but students did not react until one piped up: “I was only three in 1992.”
EUROPE: Tempus staff to be retrenched
Up to 10 European Commission staff members working on the Tempus programme, which promotes cooperation between higher education establishments within the European Union and with 26 other countries, face the sack following a drastic reorganisation of the project.