Archive for May, 2009

Under-strain universities told to clear all debts within year

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , , , , , , on 31 May 2009 by Steve

Ireland“The Higher Education Authority (HEA) has told Ireland’s top universities that current debts are ‘unacceptable’ and has put pressure on them to wipe out all arrears within a year. Colleges in the red include UCC and UCD with debts in excess of €15m, while Trinity College Dublin is also under strain from growing deficits. A spokesman for the HEA said, ‘under the Universities Act, the universities are not meant to run into debt. It simply is not acceptable. They are obliged to give it more priority than they are at the moment.’ However, General Secretary of the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) Mike Jennings has hit out at the HEA saying ‘it is completely unrealistic to expect this’ …” (more)

[Jennifer Bray, Sunday Tribune, 31 May]

TCD-UCD ‘innovation alliance’ expected to cost over €1bn

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , , on 31 May 2009 by Steve

Ireland“A joint venture between Trinity College (TCD) and University College Dublin (UCD) is likely to have a price tag of more than €1bn over a period of 10 years. The alliance between the two universities, which was launched last March, was accompanied by claims that it could lead to the establishment of 300 new ‘high-value’ companies over 10 years, creating up to 30,000 jobs by 2018. According to a draft version of UCD’s strategic plan to 2014, obtained by the Sunday Tribune, the cost of realising the UCD/TCD ‘innovation alliance’ project is set at €650m over 10 years. But it could also involve significant extra investment from the private sector during that time …” (more)

[John Downes, Sunday Tribune, 31 May]

Ministry recruits 2,000 foreign scholars

Posted in Governance and administration with tags on 31 May 2009 by Steve

china“In a bold move to rapidly expand research capacity of its universities, China’s Ministry of Education is helping underwrite the costs of recruiting and retaining 2,000 foreign experts. About 70 select universities, as well as 211 schools that comprise an elite 100+ universities, can apply to the ministry’s university section with proposals to expand key research positions. Where approved, interviewing is already underway with candidates so far drawn heavily from the US and Europe. Although scholars with Chinese background may have an advantage, China is recruiting from all nationalities in an effort not unlike the academic ‘raids’ conducted earlier by Western universities wanting to assemble potential Nobel Prize winners …” (more)

[John Richard Schrock, University World News, 31 May]

Out of puff or more protests to come?

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , on 31 May 2009 by Steve

France“After four months of fighting the government’s higher education and research reforms, meantime disrupting universities and bringing lecturers, researchers and students out on strike and onto the streets, the national protest movement appears to have run out of steam. Even the most radical universities, including the Sorbonne, have voted to re-open. But activists say the closures and blockages are on hold so students can prepare for their examinations, and action will resume until demands are met. The immediate priority is for universities to organise catch-up courses and the examinations themselves so students do not waste a year or graduate with ‘devalued’ diplomas …” (more)

[Jane Marshall, University World News, 31 May]

Re-assessing the professions

Posted in teaching with tags , on 31 May 2009 by Steve

Ireland“… For decades all over Ireland, ambitious parents were anxious that their children would become lawyers, accountants, architects, surveyors, doctors or vets. These were the career choices that would secure a social rank, lots of income, independence and sophistication. This was the life to aspire to. And for decades the CAO points have reflected that, attaching a premium to programmes of study that opened up the gates to these careers. By contrast, you could launch yourself on a trajectory towards being an engineer, a research chemist, even a senior manager in industry on the back of much lower points; these latter career choices often seemed insecure and poorly paid to the same ambitious parents …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 30 May]

Research identifies problem-drinkers on campus

Posted in Life with tags , on 31 May 2009 by Steve

USA“Binge-drinking by university students is a problem in many countries but new US research US has highlighted the characteristics of those most at risk of alcohol-related injuries. The findings by University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers suggest that university managers who want to minimise the incidence of alcohol-related injuries should focus on a relatively small group of students …” (more)

[University World News, 31 May]

Research expectations being set

Posted in research with tags , , on 31 May 2009 by Steve

New Zealand“Slack academics will be in the spotlight under research standards being developed at Canterbury University. Vice-chancellor Rod Carr said the university aimed to set minimum research output levels for academics. Those not performing could not reasonably expect to continue their work at the university, he said. ‘Academic staff who consistently fail to produce a minimum of, say, four pieces of quality assured research outputs in a three-year period cannot be assured of continuing support of the university,’ Carr said in a report to the university council yesterday …” (more)

[Rebecca Todd, The Press, 28 May]

Research hogs ‘rort’ the system

Posted in research with tags , , on 31 May 2009 by Steve

Australia“Top universities were using marriages of convenience with medical research institutes to inflate their research income and prestige and to secure an unfair slice of sought-after block funds for infrastructure, university chief Ross Milbourne said. Professor Milbourne, chairman of the Australian Technology Network of universities, sharply criticised the practice as a ‘rort’ and a ‘rip-off’. But front-rank universities such as Sydney and Melbourne rejected what they said was a misguided assault on the realities of modern, collaborative science, with the potential to set back vital research into health and medicine …” (more)

[Bernard Lane, The Australian Higher Education, 27 May]

Too smart for our own good

Posted in teaching with tags on 30 May 2009 by Steve

Canada“It’s graduation time at universities across the continent and, as so often at this time of year, people ask me: ‘Are the kids getting dumber? Can they even write?’ This is a bit like debating the value of the designated-hitter rule: The answer says more about you than about the state of play. Answer yes and you brand yourself a bookish curmudgeon, a fogey no matter what your age. Answer no and you align with new cognitive models, social networking websites, early gadget adoption and freewheeling music download. In other words, it’s cool versus uncool …” (more)

[Mark Kingwell, Globe and Mail, 29 May]

What would the Conservatives do for education? It’s not entirely clear

Posted in Governance and administration with tags on 30 May 2009 by Steve

UK“Exactly what would change in education under a Conservative government is still not entirely clear, especially where universities are concerned. So it is interesting to find David Willetts today beginning to develop a successor to one of Labour’s most contentious policies. Mr Willetts, the Shadow Innovation, Universities and Skills Secretary, has issued a statement headed ‘Government must do more to widen university access.’ In it, he laments the fact that poorer sections of society remain grossly under-represented in higher education, even though £2bn a year is spent on widening participation …” (more)

[John O’Leary, Times, 29 May]

Ageing professors leave a vacuum

Posted in Life with tags , on 30 May 2009 by Steve

UK“UK universities have a greying professoriate, with one in five academics now 55 or older, data released today shows. The figures, from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), have sparked fears that universities will be forced to rely on young scholars from overseas to replace those about to retire. The data comes as record numbers of students apply for university courses. The proportion of academics aged 55 or older rose from 18.9% to 20.5% between 2004-05 and 2007-08, the figures show …” (more)

[Jessica Shepherd, Guardian, 29 May]

Preparing for the Non-Academic Interview

Posted in Life with tags on 30 May 2009 by Steve

USA“Making the transition from an academic to a non-academic career involves confronting stereotypes about academics. When I was contemplating my first non-academic job I interviewed people in the profession I was considering to discover how to effectively make the career switch. During one interview the person I was interviewing told me, ‘You don’t sound like someone with a Ph.D.’ When I asked for clarification, she said, ‘You talk like a normal person.’ I didn’t get defensive when she said this. She wasn’t trying to be rude – she was just reacting to her perceptions of Ph.D.s …” (more)

[Christine Kelly, Inside Higher Ed, 29 May]

Full-time academics at universities in France, Germany, UK and US

Posted in Governance and administration with tags on 30 May 2009 by Steve

UK“Below an interesting table which I translated from a German journal: … A few observations: (1) France: the high number of tenured junior academic staff is remarkable. (2) Germany: the main problem is that there is no intermediate level for tenured academic staff, such as lecturer/senior lecturer, associate/assistant professor etc …” (more)

[Mathias Siems, Siemslegal, 25 May]

Tuition fees and middle income earners

Posted in Fees and access with tags , on 29 May 2009 by Steve

Ireland“Harvard University got mentioned here yesterday, and today I shall do so again – but in a different context. It’s to do with tuition fees. But before I do so, let me go back first to remind us where we are in relation to one particular anticipated development in Ireland. As readers will be aware, the Irish government is considering the reintroduction of higher education tuition fees. The Minister for Education and Science, Mr Batt O’Keeffe TD, indicated in the summer of 2008 that he wanted to examine the fees issue …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 29 May]

Tories claim poor face learning bias

Posted in teaching with tags , on 29 May 2009 by Steve

UK“Pupils from the richest neighbourhoods in England are twice as likely to go to university as those from the poorest homes, data analysed by the Conservatives shows. This proves the £2.3bn spent each year encouraging working-class children to apply to university is largely fruitless, they argue. The Conservatives analysed data from the Office for National Statistics on how many under-21s went to university in each neighbourhood of 1,500 people in England. In the richest 10% of neighbourhoods, 59.8% of under-21s went to university, while in the poorest 10% of neighbourhoods 31.9% did …” (more)

[Jessica Shepherd, Guardian, 29 May]

Overuse of professorships cheapens title, warns lecturer

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , , on 29 May 2009 by Steve

UK“Universities are cheapening the title ‘professor’ by awarding it to administrators with no academic credentials, a senior lecturer argued today. Administrators are being rewarded with the rank if they hold ‘high status’ positions, while academics are considered worthy of the title only if they have an international reputation and scores of publications in their field, Dennis Hayes, senior education lecturer at Canterbury Christ Church, said …” (more)

[Jessica Shepherd, Guardian, 28 May]

President McAleese highlights role of Science Foundation Ireland in cultivating our ‘most valuable of natural resources’

Posted in research with tags , on 29 May 2009 by Steve

Ireland“President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, on the occasion of her visit to the United States, has today highlighted the crucial role being played by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and its innovative researchers in enhancing Ireland’s reputation in the international scientific sphere. ‘Through Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), our small but dynamic country has been blazing a trail for innovation and scientific research. We have a great natural resource in the brain-power, creativity and adaptability of our people …’” (more)

[Education Ireland, 28 May]

QUB New Library, nearly complete

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , , on 28 May 2009 by Steve


[Michael Comiskey, Flickr, 26 May]

Your future in your hands??

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , on 28 May 2009 by Steve

Ireland“Slipped into the Department of Education and Science’s website on Friday, is a call for submissions to the group charged with developing a National Strategy for Higher Education. The deadline for such submissions is the 19th June. This may well provide an opportunity to make your voice heard. The invitation is summarised below and can be downloaded …” (more)

[Summa cum laude, 27 May]

A place for students

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , on 28 May 2009 by Steve

Ireland“Harvard University is one of the finest in the world – perhaps the best – but even it gets some things wrong. According to this article in a Harvard student newspaper, students at the university are not represented anywhere on the key decision-making bodies. In fact, student participation in key committees and other decision-making bodies is still quite new in most universities. When I was a student in Trinity College Dublin, the first steps had just been taken, one of the by-products of the student rebellions a few years earlier across Europe …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 27 May]