Archive for 14 April 2009

Academic Performance and Bibliometric Research Analysis – Does it mean anything?

Posted in research with tags , , , , , on 14 April 2009 by Steve

Ireland“… A bibliometric survey and analysis of the performance of one important performance indicator of the scientific research in each college using the ISI Web of Knowledge database clearly shows that University College Dublin (UCD) has led the way in research publications by some margin. UCD have increased their output of published peer reviewed research articles to just under 3,500 in the last five years during the period of unprecedented investment in research by the Government funding agencies. University College Cork (UCC) hits second most active with just over 2,000 published articles. TCD is third with 1,233 and DCU with 1,043. NUIG, RCSI and NUIM trail behind at 804, 554 and 184 …” (more)

[Watchdog on Higher Education in Ireland, 14 April]

Speaking freely

Posted in Legal issues with tags , , , on 14 April 2009 by Steve

Ireland“Many years ago, when I was an undergraduate student, I attended a debate at an Irish university. One of the speakers that night was to be a British politician who was a supporter of the former Conservative (and just turned Unionist) Enoch Powell. Just as the politician in question rose to speak, a group of students jumped up and started shouting, ‘no free speech for Fascists!’. This went on with rising volume, and in the end the man was unable to begin his speech, and the debate ended in confusion. The group concerned – which I believe (though I may be misremembering this) was organised by the ‘Communist Party of Ireland (Marxist-Leninist)’ – expressed itself satisfied. Different cause, same tactics: as many will know, a UK academic, Professor Len Doyal, was recently prevented from delivering a speech during a debate at the UCC university hospital in Cork by a small group of protesters, who objected to his support for euthanasia …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 14 April]

Significant student drug use revealed

Posted in Life with tags , on 14 April 2009 by Steve

Ireland“A survey conducted by The University Observer has indicated that more than a third of a representative sample of UCD students has taken illicit drugs. The questionnaire, which was distributed on campus within the past fortnight, asked students had they ever taken illegal drugs. 41.8 per cent of students surveyed responded positively. Of those students who admitted to previous drug use, 100 per cent had used cannabis, while 15.1 per cent and 16 per cent had used harder drugs like cocaine and ecstasy respectively. Eight per cent of students who took part in the survey had previously used LSD. Significantly, more than a third of respondents did not feel that there exists any difficulty in securing illicit drugs, with 40.7 of students claiming that they felt drugs were easy to obtain. With specific bearing on UCD, 19.7 per cent of students indicated that drugs were easy to obtain whilst on campus …” (more)

[Peter Molloy, University Observer, 14 April]

Some Bologna About Academic Freedom

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , , on 14 April 2009 by Steve

USA“Consider the recent news that three American states (Indiana, Minnesota and Utah) are undertaking pilot programs to standardize university curricula in particular majors. The programs are of a piece with the so-called ‘Bologna Process’ in Europe, which aims to create comparable standards across much of Europe, so that prospective employers wishing to hire, for example, a chemical engineer, will have some assurance of what a degree in chemical engineering means. (Presumably ‘bologna’ lacks its American idiomatic meaning in Europe; it’s also worth noting that the University of Bologna is the oldest continuously degree-granting university in the world, so that sophomoric jokes aside, ‘Bologna Process’ is quite an apt name.) Predictably, Bologna-like programs have led to the expression of concerns about academic freedom by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) …” (more)

[Dorf on Law, 10 April]

Translating research

Posted in research with tags , on 14 April 2009 by Steve

Ireland“Under DCU’s last strategic plan, and also under its new plan that will be published shortly, the university commits itself to giving special support to ‘translational research’. This concept originally came from medicine, but has more recently been applied increasingly to other fields also. Broadly it means that the research undertaken should have the capacity to be used in practical contexts to support social, business, health or other needs. We have supported and developed the concept in particular because we are aware that the taxpayer, having made a major investment in university research, is expecting this to have an impact and to make a visible difference to society. On the other hand, the academic profession has also maintained its historic commitment to basic or pure research, which is conducted at least initially for its own sake rather than because an application for it can be envisaged …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 14 April]

University finances are heading for a toxic time

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , , on 14 April 2009 by Steve

UK“Last month, Universities UK published a report detailing the views of the country’s 133 vice-chancellors on the future of university funding. They feel that tuition fees will have to rise to at least £5,000 a year. The UUK report highlights the financial uncertainty facing universities – uncertainty that has understandably increased during the recession. This situation is all too evident in my constituency. Reading University has been told to cut its student numbers. Reading has reluctantly had to take a decision based on tight finances rather than the quality of provision. It will cut its oversubscribed health and social care department simply because it costs more to teach social care courses …” (more)

[Rob Wilson, Guardian, 14 April]

La ronde / The round

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , , on 14 April 2009 by Steve

France“This beautiful square, right in the heart of Paris, opposite the city town hall, has been chosen by protesters (both students and professors) to stage a ‘ronde des obstines’, loosely translated as the hard-headed round. Since March 23, they protest against the university reform wanted by the Sarkozy government.” (picture)

[Whisperpress, 14 April]