Academic Networking

Social networking has gone academic. The Web 2.0 principles were already introduced in the field of science and innovation by the iBridge Network. Facebook brought social networking to the university, but it's main goal was not exactly academic in nature. LinkedIn brought social networking to the professional sphere. Recently there have been some initiatives that bring social networking to academic life: Researchgate and Graduate Junction. The Graduate Junction was established by Daniel Colegate and Esther Dingley, graduate  students in respectively Chemistry and Education at the University of Durham, in the United Kingdom. They…Read more …

Metaranking

After the proliferation of accreditation bodies in the 1990s and 2000s, the sector witnessed the appearance of meta-accreditation. Do we - after the proliferation of rankings in the past 10 years or so - witness the first meta-ranking? It looks like it, however I must admit it's slightly different. It won't be a meta-ranker, but more an accreditor of rankings. I'm talking about the establishment of the IREG–International Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence: On April 18, 2008 an important decision was reached by the International Ranking Expert Group (IREG) to consolidate its…Read more …

University rankings and customer satisfaction

One of the main criticisms of international rankings is that they measure research quality rather than teaching quality. This is especially the case in for the Shanghai Jiao Tong Ranking. The THES Ranking uses proxies like employer surveys, student staff ratios and the number of international students in order to indicate education quality. The best known national university ranking is probably the one of the US News and World Report.  However, their proxies for educational quality (such as selectivity) can not be applied in a standardised global setting. The most ambitious project to…Read more …

International Student Tribes and Territories

As you might know, I changed countries and positions in the last month, hence my lack of posts (now and probably in the very near future). As some of you might know, I left academia to work at the Nuffic, the Netherlands Organisation for International Cooperation in Higher Education. This week I started in the department of studies of their Knowledge and Innovation Directorate. One issue I'm currently looking at is the way foreign students choose their preferred study destinations. Market research organisation i-Graduate seems to have found all my answers already... or…Read more …

Another Campus Shooting…

Once again, there has been a shooting at a university campus in the US. On February 14, a gunman killed five students at Northern Illinois University. The killer died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He had been a graduate student in sociology at the university but was no longer enrolled. Sadly, the Northern Illinois shooting is part of a long list of random or semi-random shootings on university and college campuses: USA / 2008 - February 14: Five people are killed when a man opens fire in a classroom at Northern Illinois University…Read more …

Cognitive Enhancing Drugs in Academia

In a Nature commentary Barbara Sahakian & Sharon Morein-Zamir (University of Cambridge) discuss the use of cognitive-enhancing drugs in order to boost brainpower. And of course, these 'Professor's little helpers' are also penetrating those places where the brains are (or should be) most heavily used: academia. For many, it seems that the immediate and tangible benefits of taking these drugs are more persuasive than concerns about legal status and adverse effects. There are clear trends suggesting that the use of stimulants such as methylphenidate on college campuses is on the rise, and is…Read more …

Xmas Workaholism among Scientists

A remarkable letter in today's correspondence section of Nature. For some odd reason, a group of scientists from Oxford and the National University of Singapore thought it would be a good idea to investigate the level of research activity of scientists during the holidays. In order to find out how many submissions were made to academic journals on Christmas Day between 1996 and 2006, Richard Ladle, Ana Malhado and Peter Todd searched Google Scholar for articles received on 25 December. Even taking into account the overall increase in the volume of submissions, there…Read more …

Realizing the Global University

What defines a global 'superpower'? In the past, it was the size of national armies or possession of nuclear weapons. But now there is a more important (and peaceful) benchmark: the size and prestige of university systems. And, while the US is still the global higher education 'superpower', China will soon be knocking it off top spot if current trends continue. ...a dramatic insight into just how rapidly China is moving in the higher education race... anything anyone in the West can easily imagine... a wake-up call to universities and governments around the…Read more …

English as a Lingua Franca

I ran into some interesting papers and essays on the issue of English as the lingua franca of contemporary higher education and science. They raise serious questions about the preservation of 'scientific languages', the ability to learn and teach in a non-native language, the homogenising tendencies of a lingua franca and even about flexible interpretation of plagiarism... Some time ago, biophysicist Stefan Klein wrote an article for the Frankfurter Allgemeine about languages and science (Dümmer auf Englisch; English translation here: Dumber in English). Klein wants to ensure the future of German as a…Read more …

THES Ranking 2007 by Country

Ok...I seriously had the intention not to pay too much attention to the THES ranking this year. So this will be the last post about it (of course not the last post about rankings in general and their dynamics). I played around a bit with the data in Excel and had a look at it from a country perspective. I gave a score of 200 for the number one university (Harvard) and 1 for the number 200 (RMIT; U of Cape Town) etc., and than aggregated these scores for every country. The graph…Read more …

THES University Ranking 2007

I have probably written more than I should about rankings, and especially the Times Higher Education Supplement list and its flaws and shortcomings, but I just couldn't resist... Here is a preview of this years results [last year between brackets]: 1 [1] Harvard US 2 [2] Cambridge UK 2 [3] Oxford UK 2 [4] Yale US 5 [9] Imperial College UK 6 [10] Princeton US 7 [7] Caltech US 7 [11] University of Chicago US 9 [25] University College London UK 10 [4] MIT US (...) 16 [16] Australian National University AU 27…Read more …

New News: University World News

Will it be the global equivalent of the Chronicle, Inside Higher Ed and the Times Higher Education Supplement? They at least claim to be 'the first global window on higher education' (but of course I've been having a small global window on higher education since 2005;). What is this about? It's about a new information resource in higher education: University World News: With international competition and collaboration between universities growing apace, it has never been more important for higher education managers, researchers, scholars and public officials to keep abreast of developments in their…Read more …

And the winners are…

Yesterday was the single most (ok, second most) important annual event for science: the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony. The Ig Nobel Prizes have been awarded since 1991 for those scientific achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think. They 'celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative -- and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology'. In Harvard University, great scientists gathered to hear who would follow in the footsteps of eminent illustrious intellectuals like: Daniel Simons of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Christopher Chabris of Harvard University, for…Read more …

Earth From Above

While walking through Darling Harbour yesterday - visiting the Fiesta Festival - I had a look at the Earth From Above exhibition by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. Some of you might have already seen it since the exhibition has been traveling around the world the past years. I thought it was pretty amazing... Below are a few of my favorites. Click on the pictures to see the larger versions and the stories that go with them, or go here to see them all. Worker resting on bales of cotton, Thonakaha, Korhogo, Ivory Coast: 225Read more …