|11 November 2012||Issue 0247||Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week||Advanced Search|
NEWSLETTERFlawed research impact assessment throws up ranking anomalies
In Commentary, Richard Holmes contends that the Times Higher Education ranking’s method of assessing research impact has thrown up oddities, and Lena Adamson and Anders Flodström argue that Swedish politicians are attempting to hijack quality assurance and the result will be chaos.
Ed Byrne writes that Australia’s ‘Asian Century’ white paper promotes world-class university ambitions – but its approach discriminates against younger institutions – and in World Blog, Serhiy Kvit reveals that Ukraine has a number of trusted university ranking systems, although it does not take part in global rankings.
Alya Mishra covers the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry higher education summit held in New Delhi last week, including the first public speech by new Minister of State for Education Shashi Tharoor, who criticised higher education for failing graduates.
In Features, Jan Petter Myklebust reports on a conference in Spain to mark five years of European Research Council operations, which among other things probed how to win grants and attract top researchers.
María Elena Hurtado interviews Barham Madain, president of the International Association of University Presidents, on the “collaboration for change” theme of the 2012 World Innovation Summit for Education – WISE – which takes place in Doha this week. And in South Africa, Nicola Jenvey reports on a new central applications system being established to bring sanity to university admissions.
Karen MacGregor Global Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
More than 10,000 Australian university students will receive grants to study in Asia and thousands more will have access to generous student loans as part of the federal government's strategy to strengthen engagement with the world’s most populous region.
The past decade has seen Canada’s intake of international students increase by 75%. Perhaps even more impressively, the numbers of students from India – one of the world’s largest sources of international students – has jumped 220% since 2008.
EUROPEJan Petter Myklebust
Universities and individuals – who have been signing a petition at a rate of 4,000 a day – have called on Europe’s political leaders to protect the Horizon 2020 research and Erasmus for All exchange initiatives at an upcoming European Council budget summit.
UNITED KINGDOMDavid Jobbins
The finances of England’s universities are stronger than predicted a year ago, according to the Higher Education Funding Council for England. But it raised serious questions over future student recruitment, especially in the international market.
Kenyan universities edged out their East African counterparts to emerge top in a new survey focused on the adoption of information and communication technology in higher education. Private universities outperformed public institutions and Uganda’s Makerere University was placed first.
South Korea has allocated around US$51 million to assist Africa over the next two years in carrying out human resource development projects, including growing the continent’s scientific workforce, preparing higher education reform strategies and designing education policy.
A recent decision by the Association of Vice-chancellors of Nigerian Universities to ban the awarding of honorary degrees to serving political office-holders has elicited overwhelming support from the public and professional bodies.
UNITED STATESGeoff Maslen
President Barack Obama appears to have tickled American funny bones more than presidential contender Mitt Romney during their public confrontations, according to researchers studying audience reactions to the US presidential and vice-presidential debates.
FICCI Higher Education Summit 2012
The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, FICCI, held its Higher Education Summit 2012 in New Delhi last week. University World News was there.
Indian higher education is failing graduates by not teaching them the skills that would make them employable, and the gap is being filled by industry, new Minister of State for Education Shashi Tharoor said last Monday in his first public speech since being assigned to the ministry in a wide-ranging cabinet reshuffle.
Canada is turning to higher education partnerships as a form of ‘soft’ diplomacy and as part of a global economic strategy that includes attracting Indian students to fill a growing skills shortage.
America’s Ivy League and Britain’s Oxbridge cannot solve India's higher education challenges – the country needs a clear direction for higher education expansion, said experts debating the role of foreign universities.
Indian universities in the private sector need to look for diverse sources of funding rather than depending solely on tuition fees if they want to improve education quality, a higher education panel has concluded.
EUROPEJan Petter Myklebust
A number of Nobel prize holders have failed to win a European Research Council grant because their project proposals were not good enough, ERC President Helga Nowotny told a conference held in Barcelona last week to mark the council’s five years of operation.
GLOBALMaría Elena Hurtado
The 2012 World Innovation Summit for Education – WISE – will take place in Doha this week. Some 1,200 thought leaders and decision-makers will attend, including Barham Madain, president of the International Association of University Presidents, who spoke to University World News about collaboration in higher education.
SOUTH AFRICANicola Jenvey
The tragic death in January of Gloria Sekwena, who accompanied her son Kgositsile when he tried to secure late admission to the University of Johannesburg and was killed in a stampede of desperate applicants, was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back for the South African government. From next year, a central applications system will be in place.
Ukraine does not take part in global rankings due to the way it conducts research, but that has not stopped it producing a number of home ranking systems that are valued and trusted by the public. Attempts to impose a centralised ranking system would undermine that trust.
Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings takes pride in its research impact indicator, but a look at the results shows unlikely candidates high up the list. The way research impact is calculated skews it in favour of multiple authored papers and rapid citations of articles.
SWEDENLena Adamson and Anders Flodström
Swedish politicians want to transform quality assurance and peer review and use them to allocate funding. The result will be a much more chaotic system and political game-playing that will do nothing to boost the quality of higher education and research in the country.
The government’s ‘Asian Century’ white paper sets a target of 10 Australian universities in the top 100 in the world. But it bases this goal on just one league table that favours long-established universities.
Over the past decade, Africa has experienced unparalleled economic growth, putting the continent on a pedestal to become the next growth frontier. Development experts predict that economies in Africa will continue to grow at an average of 6% even while the rest of the world is facing an economic slump.
Scientists spent five years creating the world’s first family tree linking every known bird species, in the process discovering that birds appear to be accelerating their rate of evolution. The finding was contrary to the scientists’ expectations.
An astronomer, Professor Ken Freeman, has won the $300,000 2012 Australian Prime Minister’s Prize for Science – more than 40 years after revolutionising his field with his research on dark matter, the theory that most of the universe is made up of an invisible substance and not just galaxies, stars and dust.
A Swiss-based team searching for planets outside our solar system, called exoplanets, has detected a planet the size of Earth orbiting the star Alpha Centauri B. Named Alpha Centauri Bb, the planet is 10 times closer to its star than Mercury is to our Sun. This means the planet should be extraordinarily hot, ruling out any chance of life existing there.
University World News has a new Facebook group. If you are not a member, do consider joining to see our regular updates, post on our wall and communicate with us and other University World News fans. You can also follow University World News on Twitter @uniworldnews
Although the United States no longer leads the world in educational attainment, record numbers of young Americans are completing high school, going to college and finishing college, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of newly available census data, writes Tamar Lewin for The New York Times.
American voters re-elected Barack Obama as president last week, extending the White House stay of an administration that has focused on expanding federal student aid as well as tightening regulations on colleges and universities, writes Michael Stratford for The Chronicle of Higher Education.
There has been a decisive shift among the UK’s research councils to funding spec ialist doctoral training centres within key universities or consortia. Five of the seven research councils now operate variations on this model, and a sixth is set to follow suit. This echoes a clear steer from government to concentrate pressured funds for training in areas of proven research excellence, writes Anna Fazackerley for the Guardian.
A veritable tempest broke out in Russian higher education last week, when the Ministry of Education and Science said a considerable portion of state-run colleges were ineffective, writes Lyudmila Alexandrova for ITAR-TASS.
The system of affiliation is adversely affecting the quality of higher education in India, said a Central Advisory Board of Education committee, recommending a phased reduction in the number of such colleges, writes Mihika Basu for The Indian Express.
While Japanese Education Minister Makiko Tanaka stated recently that she had rejected applications to create three new universities, last Tuesday she retracted the firm decision and said the institutions may be approved after examination by a new council, writes Adam Westlake for The Japan Daily Press.
Driving lessons and iPads are among the gifts developers are showering on students in London to lure them to fill empty rooms after fee hikes and visa curbs threaten to undermine university housing's reputation as a safe property investment, writes Brenda Goh for Reuters.
Higher education institutions need to recognise the changing world of publishing, says Rupert Gatti, writing in the Guardian. And it's time for academics to take matters into their own hands.
What if two professors at a university launched their own university? Would the first university cheer them on? Surprisingly, it might. At least, that is the case with George Mason University, its economists Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok, and the free online education platform they have launched called Marginal Revolution University, writes Nick Anderson for The Washington Post.
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology is offering free online education courses in partnership with some of the world's top universities, such as Stanford and Princeton, from next year. The courses are being offered through Coursera, an educational technology company that first began offering free, online education to a dozen Stanford engineering classes in 2008, writes Winnie Chong for The Standard.
A new fairness debate has cropped up in several American states this year and is beginning to change policy in Iowa, writes Kevin Kiley for Inside Higher Ed. Last month, the Board of Regents of the state, which oversees three universities, eliminated their policy of earmarking 20% of in-state tuition revenue for financial aid purposes. In doing so, the board launched a plan to reduce the sticker price of attending the universities by $1,000 a year.
Concerns about the commerc ialisation of Canadian research funding and international student recruitment were front and centre as Canadian higher education leaders gathered in Ottawa last week, writes Michelle Zilio for iPolitics.
A host of the UK's most esteemed thinkers have joined a campaign that calls for university autonomy, research free from short-term economic concerns and higher education that allows graduates to lead richer and more rewarding lives, writes David Matthews for Times Higher Education.
Students and staff want institutions to follow Melbourne University's lead and condemn proposed laws that strip their right to a place on governing councils. The push comes amid mounting fears that universities, including Monash, will support the state government's new legislation and deny students a council seat, writes Benjamin Preiss for The Age.
Fundamental rights of universities and academics – such as academic freedom, university autonomy, collegiality and security of tenure – are ignored in Malaysia, an academic-based NGO said last week, reports Anisah Shukry for Free Malaysia Today.
Four government-funded universities in central and southern Taiwan formally launched a unit last week to integrate resources and jointly nurture talent, reports The China Post.
The Welsh education minister has been accused of a U-turn after withdrawing a consultation forcing a three-way merger of universities in south-east Wales. Leighton Andrews said Glamorgan and Newport universities want to merge sooner rather than later. Cardiff Metropolitan University, which has opposed the merger plan, will not be forced to join them for the time being, reports the BBC.
A week after super-storm Sandy flooded New York University’s medical research laboratories, critics are asking whether the laboratories did everything they could – and whether they followed government guidelines – to protect the research animals, writes Sharon Begley for Reuters.
Since its opening three years ago in Kigali, Mt Kenya University has offered weekend programmes that are winning the hearts of learners in pursuit of higher education. Weekend study programmes are not a new concept in Kenya where the university originates, but in Rwanda MKU enjoys a monopoly, writes Anne Anjao for The Independent.
Terms and Conditions / ISSN 1756-297X / © University World News 2007-2012