W-E-B links for Today: 10 July 2007

The editorial board of the Beerkens’ Blog has decided to throw in a new daily item. I’ll be posting my own snapshot of the internet on a regular basis, providing you with three links that I think are most important or remarkable for that day:

First of all the World news of the day: a link to a news item about anything, happening anywhere; Second, the Education news of the day: a link to a news item relating to the topics of this blog, like education, academia, science and innovation. And finally, the Blog post of the day: a link to my small selection of the blogosphere.

Here’s my snapshot for today:

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”.

Continue reading Culture & Competitiveness

Open access to research

A nice little snippet from last week’s issue of Nature about a good initiative in open access to research:

“The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), a leading private sponsor of biomedical research in the United States, will require its 300-plus investigators to make their research publicly accessible within six months of publication.

Articles that do not meet this requirement will not be considered when the investigators apply for contract renewals. The policy, announced on 26 June, will come into effect at the start of 2008 and will apply only to papers on which an HHMI investigator is the first, last or corresponding author.”

The researchers are still able to publish in many journals (including Nature) because the Institute will cover the costs that some publishers charge for making papers publicly available after a certain period of time.

Rankings and Policy

Here’s a typical example of how international university rankings directly influence university policies. This is a newspaper article about a national university, reported in a major national newspaper somewhere in the world:

“The university has started recruiting international undergraduate students in an effort to boost its image on a global scale. About 300 international students from various countries registered at the university here yesterday.

The Minister for Higher Education said recruiting international students was to improve its rank in world university rankings, such as the Times Higher Education Supplement’s (THES) World University Rankings.”

You could argue that it doesn’t make too much sense to focus on an indicator which only is 5% of the total score. But even more you could argue that a minister should base his objectives on national needs and national circumstances. Not base them on a widely disputed ranking which is characterised by flaws and errors.

French university reforms

Nicolas Sarkozy has made higher education reform one of the main issues in his early presidency. In general, the French universities are underfunded and inefficient. Higher education is free (apart from a small registration fee) and funded almost totally by taxpayers money. Universities are state agencies, staff are civil servants and institutional autonomy is lacking. Unsurprisingly, autonomy is the key word of the reforms announced by Sarkozy and Valérie Pécresse, the higher-education minister.

She clarified here autonomy plans in the Economist: Continue reading French university reforms

Moving the Blog. Change Bookmarks and Feeds!

What better moment than at 07:07 PM of the day 07-07-07 to change things…I have changed my blog software from Blogger to WordPress. Just makes things easier and more flexible. I have also taken the opportunity to make some cosmetic changes and to adopt a ‘new’ name.

The change in software also leads to a change in a few URLs.:

All archives have been moved to the new site and software. The old archives (with a .html extension) will be available for a while but will be removed eventually.


UNSW Asia: the conjuncture of events

(update below) Fred Hilmer, Vice-Chancellor of the University of New South Wales, looks back on the UNSW Asia debacle. One of the question that I asked in my post immediately after UNSW’s announcement was about the real reason for UNSW’s sudden departure. Much news has been reported since, but none of the explanations can fully explain it. Hilmer points to the low enrollment numbers as the reason and the fact that the Singapore Economic Development Board wasn’t willing to accept their rescue plan.Today it was also reported that high fees led to the fall of the Singapore Campus. This has been said by many others but it can’t be a sufficient reason. Other senior academics at UNSW Asia blamed a lack of marketing for its demise. Sure, this might be part of the explanation as well. Simon Marginson of the University of Melbourne University explained that the business plan was plain bad and based on too rosy a set of enrollment projections.

I think we have to conclude that there is not one single reason for UNSW’s pull-out. It is more a concurrence of circumstances that led to a major fiasco. But why hasn’t this been foreseen by a big professional organisation like UNSW? Continue reading UNSW Asia: the conjuncture of events

‘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 that the Prime Minister’s salary should be the norm for others in the public sector. In the Netherlands that is a mere 171,000 Euros (John Howard’s salary was recently increased to 208,000 Euros). But most university leaders in the Netherlands make significantly more than that.

The new Dutch Minister for Education this week showed his discontent about the managerialism in education and the accompanying rise in salaries. He observes that most of them enjoyed enormous salary increases when they came into their current positions. And I am sure he is right about that (although that is not the case for all of them). One of the most visible cases has been the one in my own Alma Mater. Their top level managers were given a 31% salary increase, which sparked a reaction of the Minister claiming that this was ‘unbelievable’. This increase brought the salary of the Chairman of the Executive Board (more or less the CEO of the University) to 171,000 Euros. In comparison, the lowest earning VC in Australia, David Battersby of the University of Balarat (poor guy), earned over 200,000 Euros!

So how do the Dutch university CEOs compare with the Australian Vice-Chancellors? Basically, compared to Australia, the Dutch salaries are still very modest. Here is the list of the top 6 for both countries: Continue reading ‘Competitive’ salaries in academia