Archive for 2 October 2009

Minister Roche hails WIT but won’t be drawn on ‘Uni’ bid

Posted in Governance and administration with tags on 2 October 2009 by Steve

Ireland“Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) is an excellent IT and that must not be forgotten: that was the assertion made by Minister of State Dick Roche during a visit to Waterford. Speaking to The Munster Express after meeting with Waterford Chamber members on Monday evening, Minister Roche said there was a danger that WIT’s excellence could be forgotten amidst the ongoing university status debate …” (more)

[Dermot Keyes, Munster Express, 2 October]

Philosophy and real life

Posted in teaching with tags on 2 October 2009 by Steve

UK“Warwick University is about to announce the first academic with an explicit brief to engage a wide audience with philosophy. Dr Angela Hobbs will be made senior fellow in the public understanding of philosophy. It’s a great innovation. The post is analogous to those aimed at the public understanding of science, a task with which a number of academics are now charged following the success of Richard Dawkins in that role at Oxford University. But if it is clear how you and I might gain from a better knowledge of science, what’s the case for philosophy? …” (more)

[Mark Vernon, Guardian, 2 October]

European universities sign up to YouTube EDU

Posted in Governance and administration with tags on 2 October 2009 by Steve

EU“YouTube has announced the addition of 45 university channels from six countries in Europe and Israel. The new channels will be available through YouTube EDU http://www.youtube.com/edu, a centralised location where people can quickly and easily discover higher educational institutions on the site. Universities on YouTube, like Cambridge University and The Open University offer a detailed portrait of academic life via online video …” (more)

[Techcentral.ie, 2 October]

Science project to generate €275m for economy

Posted in research with tags , on 2 October 2009 by Steve

Ireland“One of the biggest science projects ever to be carried out in Ireland will generate €275 million for the economy according to a new report …” (more)

[Independent, 2 October]

At Exam Time, Students May Face a Separate Test – for ‘Smart Drugs’

Posted in Life with tags on 2 October 2009 by Steve

Australia“After years of bringing infamy to professional athletes, could performance-enhancing drugs soon do the same for college students? A psychologist at the University of Sydney in Australia thinks so. Vince Cakic, a research assistant in the School of Psychology, says in an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics that the increasing use of ‘smart drugs’, or ‘nootropics’— a phenomenon already seen among some of their professors— could mean that college students taking course examinations will begin facing routine doping tests …” (more)

[Paul Basken, Chronicle of Higher Education, 30 September]

Updates: Joyce, hecklers and broadcasting

Posted in Legal issues with tags , , , , on 2 October 2009 by Steve

Ireland“I suppose if I spent ages thinking about it, I could find a spurious thread linking three stories that caught my eye over the last few days, but in truth there is none, except that they update matters which I have already discussed on this blog. (Oh, all right then, they’re all about different aspects of freedom of expression: the first shows that copyright should not prevent academic discussion; the second shows that hecklers should not have a veto; and the third is about broadcasting regulation). First, I had noted the proclivity of the estate of James Joyce to be vigorous in defence of its copyrights; but it lost a recent case…” (more)

[Eoin O’Dell, Cearta, 2 October]

So Little at Stake?

Posted in Life with tags , on 2 October 2009 by Steve

USA“Henry Kissinger is reported to have said that the reason academic quarrels are so bitter is that there is so little at stake. Academics are often quick to take offense, even at actions, comments or questions not intended to be offensive or insulting. According to some commentators, incivility among academics, euphemistically called a lack of collegiality, is becoming increasingly common. Multiple causes for this have been cited, including increased workloads, individualism, expectations, etc. The adoption of a more corporate ethos and administrative structure by universities has also been frequently cited as a cause. It is each person for themselves in the modern university …” (more)

[Arnold van der Valk, A Crumbling Ivory Tower?, 2 October]

Painful Lesson on Patents

Posted in Legal issues with tags , on 2 October 2009 by Steve

USA“Giving someone something and agreeing to give someone something are two very different things – and Stanford University officials, to their dismay, are probably more aware of that distinction now than they were just a few days ago. On Wednesday, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit told a lower court judge to dismiss a lawsuit Stanford had brought accusing the pharmaceutical company Roche of infringing its patent on a technology that measures the concentration of HIV in blood plasma. Stanford lost the case, essentially, because its policy on who owns inventions created using university resources required researchers, at some future date, to ‘agree to assign’ ownership rights to the university; the comparable policy at Cetus, the Roche-owned company with which the Stanford researcher did outside work, in turn, said that an inventor ‘will assign and do hereby assign’ his or her rights …” (more)

[Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed, 2 October]

A System for Fighting Digital Defamation

Posted in Legal issues with tags , on 2 October 2009 by Steve

USA“Part I of this two-part series argued that it was inappropriate for colleges and universities to assume responsibility under in loco parentis for protecting college students from anonymous digital defamation, and that institutions should instead empower students by educating them on available strategies and resources. In this essay, we discuss a disaggregated solution for addressing digital defamation and the resulting disaggregated harms it causes. By establishing a database-driven Web-based litigation system, we can empower students and level the playing field so that interested students can defend themselves, and hopefully deter future digital defamation …” (more)

[Benjamin Bleiberg and Joseph Storch, Inside Higher Ed, 2 October]

China ousts UK in academic research ranking

Posted in research with tags , , on 2 October 2009 by Steve

UK“China has done what it has threatened to do for years: it has overtaken the UK to become the second-largest producer of academic research in the world. An annual report by data analyst Evidence, published today by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, shows that China has moved into second place after the US in a ranking of nations by their research output. Although the UK published 91,273 papers in 2008 – an average of 2.3 per researcher and up more than 11,000 on 2007 – it was not enough to keep pace with the most populous country in the world, which has experienced a four-fold rise in its output over the past decade …” (more)

[Zoë Corbyn, Times Higher Education, 2 October]

Call for further investment in RD

Posted in research with tags on 2 October 2009 by Steve

Ireland“Two leading academics, who have voluntary positions on the board of Crann (Centre for Research on Adaptive Nanostructures and Nanodevices) in Trinity College Dublin, are calling for Ireland to invest more in research and development to help Ireland’s economic recovery. ‘The amount of RD investment is so small for an issue that is so important,’ said Prof David Awschalom, an expert in nanotechnology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, ‘particularly in a recession when you are talking about the country’s economic future’ …” (more)

[Ian Campbell, Irish Times, 2 October]

Universities face academic exodus as corporate culture takes hold

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , on 2 October 2009 by Steve

Australia“Australia’s academics are disillusioned by corporate management cultures at universities, threatening to drive many away from the profession and worsen a looming staff shortage as thousands of them approach retirement. About 5000 senior academics are set to retire in the next 10 years but a study released by the University of Melbourne’s LH Martin Institute warns that widespread dissatisfaction with academic life means there is unlikely to be enough new blood to replace the losses …” (more)

[Andrew Trounson, The Australian Higher Education, 2 October]

Green education

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , on 2 October 2009 by Steve

Ireland“… Yesterday the Greens issued their proposals, or rather their demands for the new programme. Well, more a shopping list. As far as I can see, they want to see all spending up and all taxes down (except for taxes on the nasty rich). And amongst the new or restored spending would be education spending. Generally they want education spending restored to what it was before the cuts of autumn last year, they want no tuition fees for third level and no increased registration charge. And whatever you’re having yourself …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 1 October]

Public Sector Pay: CSO add their part to the analysis

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , , on 2 October 2009 by Steve

Ireland“The controversy around public-private sector pay differences continues following today’s release by the Central Statistics Office of a special multi-variate analysis of pay differences based on the 2007 National Employment Survey. The full Report can be downloaded here. The conclusion is that public sector workers are better paid than private sector workers even when statistical controls are applied in relation to age, education, experience, gender etc. However, the difference does not seem nearly as large as that shown in the recent analysis by the ESRI …” (more)

[Slí Eile, progressive-economy@TASC, 1 October]

Knowledge Is Power

Posted in research with tags , , on 2 October 2009 by Steve

Ireland“Ireland needs to build on its existing research strengths, continue to fund priority areas at home and beef up its environmental research if the country is to remain globally competitive in science beyond the recession. That’s according to José Manuel Silva Rodríguez, the European Commission director general for research, who last month was whisked between Dublin and Galway on a whistlestop tour of Irish research centres …” (more)

[Claire O’Connell, Irish Times, 2 October]

University funding body calls for a shake-up of degree system

Posted in teaching with tags , on 2 October 2009 by Steve

UK“The ancient system of classing degrees as firsts, upper or lower seconds, or thirds needs to be updated or changed, the university funding body says today. Classes of degrees could be accompanied or even replaced by a certificate giving the points scored by graduates. The current bands are too vague and should be refined, according to a report commissioned by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) …” (more)

[Nicola Woolcock, Times, 1 October]

New definition of ‘legal battle’

Posted in Life with tags , , on 2 October 2009 by Steve

UK“Fights broke out as law students queued for up to 11 hours last night to secure the dissertation supervisor of their choice at Brunel University. More than 100 students queued outside Brunel Law School overnight in the hope of working with their preferred academic, after the school introduced a first-come, first-served supervisor-allocation system. Staff began allocating supervisors at 7am this morning, but the university said today that it would rethink the system to ensure there is ‘no repeat’ of the problems …” (more)

[Melanie Newman, Times Higher Education, 1 October]

Students turn to ‘smart drugs’ to boost grades

Posted in Life with tags on 2 October 2009 by Steve

UK“Students are increasingly using brain-boosting drugs – and they’re virtually impossible to ban, an expert warned today. Drugs normally used for conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are being used by students around the world to improve their academic performance. In some US universities, a quarter of students are reportedly using ‘smart drugs’, and there is anecdotal evidence of increasing use on British campuses …” (more)

[Guardian, 1 October]

The University of Florida is Prepared for Zombie Attacks — Just in Case

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , on 2 October 2009 by Steve

USA“It’s great to know that your school is ready for everything, and students at the University of Florida can rest easy knowing their college is prepared to handle a zombie outbreak. An employee in the school’s academic technology office wrote up a disaster preparedness simulation exercise, outlining what steps the university should take to identify and deal with an outbreak of ‘zombie behavior spectrum disorder’. The guideline recommends, among other things, exercising proper hygiene during an outbreak, dispelling myths about zombies among the student body, and developing policies and procedures for dispatching an infected co-worker …” (more)

[Lauren Davis. io9.com, 1 October]