Regulating recruitment agencies

Study abroad for a full degree has developed from an elite to a mass phenomenon. Parallel to this development, we have witnessed a commercialization of international higher education where many institutions have become financially dependent on full fee paying international students. To operate in this (global) market, institutions – and especially the lesser-known ones – now frequently turn to agents and recruiters in order to attract prospective students. Many point to the risks of these third party agents and plea for more regulation or even abolishment. Abolish or regulate? In Inside Higher Ed,…Read more …

Does past performance influence success in grant applications?

Last week, the Dutch Volkskrant reported on an interesting study on the distribution of research funding by the Netherlands Research Council (NWO). Loet Leydesdorff (one of the researchers that introduced the Triple Helix concept) and Peter van den Besselaar - both of the Amsterdam School of Communications Research of the University of Amsterdam - conducted a study on the grant allocation decisions of the Netherlands Research Council in the Humanities and Social Sciences in the Netherlands. Besselaar and Leydesdorff tested whether the grant decisions correlate with the past performances of the applicants in…Read more …

The Business School Business in Europe, Asia and the US

The Financial Times featured an interesting article from business guru Charles Baden Fuller. Professor at the Cass Business School of the City University, London. He observes a decrease in the gap between management research between the US and other regions like Europe and Asia. Although he acknowledges the supremacy of the US in the field, he says that the US share of management research will fall below 50 percent the next few years: Research output in management is still concentrated: less than 3 per cent of the world's universities produce more than 70…Read more …

Market share and competition

In the Dutch weekly journal ESB (Economic and Statistical Reports), economists from the universities of Groningen and Rotterdam presented an interesting article. Their starting assumption is that high student evaluations will have a positive effect on the market share of universities. After all, if a programme in a particular university is highly ranked by students, more students will chose this particular university to attend that programme. The authors collected six year of student evaluations where students rate their programmes on a scale of 1-10  (as published annually in the Dutch weekly magazine Elsevier).…Read more …

Equity or Excellence in Education (or both?)?

One of the major current issues in (higher) education policy - in my opinion - is the issue of excellence versus equity. Is it most important to focus on the masses and see to it that everyone gets the same high quality education? Or should the country's prime talents be nurtured and given the opportunity to fully exploit their opportunities. Or, better yet, can you do both? The BBC Radio Documentary series 'The Changing World' investigates the dilemma, and what better places to visit than Finland on the one hand and the UK…Read more …

HOW to reform Europe’s universities?

Going through my daily news intake, my eyes fell on this alarming headline in Businessweek: Europe Falls Short in Higher Education. Going through the article, it seemed like the same old story (more of this and this). Nonetheless,  I decided to have a look at the source of the article. It was based on a policy brief (Why reform  Europe’s universities?) issued by Breugel, a European think tank devoted to international economics. The report presented some interesting data and analysis of the determinants of research performance (interesting despite the fact that much of…Read more …

Culture & Competitiveness

Cultural orientation toward the future differs between countries and strongly correlates with the level of competitiveness of the country. That was one of the findings of Mansour Javidan and his colleagues in the Project GLOBE (see this month's issue of the Harvard Business Review). Since 1993, the project examines the inter-relationships between societal culture, organizational culture, and organizational leadership. Through a survey of over 17,000 middle managers in 61 societies, they found clear international differences in several areas, one of them being "future orientation". 182Read more …

‘Competitive’ salaries in academia

In both the Netherlands and Australia the salaries of the top university leaders lead to controversy. The Australian reports that all but one of the leaders of Australia’s Group of 8 Universities earn more than 600,000 Australian Dollars (378,000 Euros). Top earner was John Hay of the University of Queensland with 655,000 Euros. But the Australian found even higher figures for La Trobe University where someone (probably the former VC) received over 930,000 Euros! In the Netherlands, the salaries and bonuses in the public sector are a hot issue as well. Many claim…Read more …

Thou Shalt Compete

The Economist gives a short review of the Bologna process and explains how it will inevitably increase competition in Europe. But for 'Old Europe' (as the Economist likes to call it) this requires more than just some structural changes:"The more hidebound European universities must be wondering what on earth they have started. Self-interest has prodded them to think about students as customers: both wealthy foreign ones, and bright locals tempted to finish their studies overseas. Governments have realised they could save money if their universities made students study a bit more briskly, gaining…Read more …

India Rising (or part of it)

Last year October I made my first visit to India. I had heard a lot of stories and read numerous articles about the 'Rise of India' (Thomas Friedman probably topping the list in terms of optimism). So...I arrived with high expectations. After arriving in Delhi Airport, staying three days in Delhi and travelling two weeks through Rajasthan, I was becoming more and more fascinated and disappointed at the same time.Of course I hadn't expected India to have turned in to one big IT science park in just one or two decades (although some…Read more …

The Ivy League Liga: Round 2

2006 has been somewhat of a revolutionary year for German higher education. The system where all universities were considered of equal quality and therefore were subjected to equal treatment by the government, experienced quite a stir.German Minister of Research and Education Annette Schavan announced in October last year that the Ludwig-Maximilian University (Munchen) and the Technical University of Munchen and the University of Karlsruhe became Germany's first 'elite universities'. The three institutions are the biggest winners in Germany's 'excellence initiative'. This was established to improve the country's chronically under-funded universities (and its decreasing…Read more …

Scarcity in China

A few interesting articles appeared recently on the availability of talent to support China's economic growth. Even though China has a vast pool of human resources, the Asia Times warns about China's impending talent shortage. Firms in the south now complain that they cannot recruit enough cheap factory and manual workers. The market is even tighter for skilled workers. As the economy grows and moves into higher-value-added work, the challenge of attracting and retaining staff is rising with the skill level, as demand outstrips supply.Only a few of China's vast number of university…Read more …

The Globally Integrated Enterprise

IBM's CEO Samuel J. Palmisano claims that the Multinational Corporation (MNC), one of the primary agents of globalisation, is taking on a new form: The Globally Integrated Enterprise. A post of the Dutch blog Sargasso pointed me to this article in this month's edition of Foreign Affairs (the article can also be downloaded from the IBM website).Although international trading enterprises were already in existence in the 17th and 18th century (e.g. the British or the Dutch East India Company), the first international corporations emerged in the mid-nineteenth century. These corporations were mainly based…Read more …

Outsourcing Homework

The Washington Post reports on another industry that is feeling the effects of outsourcing: education, and tutoring in particular. In the US, there are millions of dollars available under the No Child Left Behind Act to firms that provide remedial tutoring. And where there's money, there's people that want to make more money. And where people want to make more money, they need to lower the costs (click picture for enlargement):When Studyloft.com, a Chicago-based tutoring company with more than 6,000 clients, advertised in Bangalore for tutors with master's degrees, more than 500 people…Read more …

Academic Champions League?

In the latest Higher Education section of The Australian it is all about research assessment. The Australian Government has planned to introduce a Research Quality Framework (RQF) which is largely based on the UK Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). The RAE is a peer review exercise to evaluate the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The introduction of the RAE has improved universities' research performance (in terms of impact of publications) and created greater research concentration.It' s a rather strange moment to introduce the RQF because the UK has plans to abolish…Read more …