2014 Academic Ranking of World Universities: Top 20 and UK placings

2014 ARWU University World Rankings: Top 20 and UK placings

It feels like a strange time to publish a world ranking but ideal holiday reading for many.

Anyway, as in previous years there is not a huge amount to get excited about as this is a league table where little changes. The full rankings have been published and are now available at the ARWU website

As in many previous years there are really very few surprises and almost no movement in the top 20 with Harvard retaining the number 1 spot for the eighth successive year and everyone else just about unchanged too although MIT and Berkeley swap places inside the top 5. Overall there is very little movement in top 20 apart from the new entry of UCL in 20th place.

World
Rank
Institution* Country
/Region
National
Rank
Total
Score
Score onAlumni
Award
HiCi
N&S
PUB
PCP
1 Harvard University
1
100
100
2 Stanford University
2
72.1
41.8
3 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
3
70.5
68.4
4 University of California-Berkeley
4
70.1
66.8
5 University of Cambridge
1
69.2
79.1
6 Princeton University
5
60.7
52.1
7 California Institute of Technology
6
60.5
48.5
8 Columbia University
7
59.6
65.1
9 University of Chicago
8
57.4
61.4
9 University of Oxford
2
57.4
51
11 Yale University
9
55.2
48.8
12 University of California, Los Angeles
10
51.9
30.2
13 Cornell University
11
50.6
37.6
14 University of California, San Diego
12
49.3
19.7
15 University of Washington
13
48.1
21.7
16 University of Pennsylvania
14
47.1
32.4
17 The Johns Hopkins University
15
47
38.7
18 University of California, San Francisco
16
45.2
0
19 Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich
1
43.9
30.2
20 University College London
3
43.3
28.8

 

In terms of the UK placings, the only substantive changes are that Bristol and King’s swap places and Nottingham drops out of Top 100. Given the general stability of the table it is not entirely clear why this has happened.

World Rank
1
University of Cambridge 5
2
University of Oxford 9
3
University College London 20
4
The Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine 22
5
The University of Manchester 38
6
The University of Edinburgh 45
7
King’s College London 59
8
University of Bristol 63
9-17
Cardiff University 101-150
9-17
London School of Economics and Political Science 101-150
9-17
The University of Glasgow 101-150
9-17
The University of Sheffield 101-150
9-17
University of Birmingham 101-150
9-17
University of Leeds 101-150
9-17
University of Liverpool 101-150
9-17
University of Nottingham 101-150
9-17
University of Southampton 101-150
18-20
University of East Anglia 151-200
18-20
University of Sussex 151-200
18-20
University of Warwick 151-200

Anyway, much summer fun to be had analysing this data.

The new University of Life

Some people are just too smart for university

uncollege

Must admit to being immensely irritated at the so-called ‘UnCollege’ proposition> And, having seen Dale speak recently at Going Global my annoyance has not decreased. This seems to be the story of UnCollege:

 

Dale was unschooled for grades six through twelve and enrolled at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas following “high school.” He was frustrated with some aspects of his college experience and spent much of his first semester thinking and writing about what could be done to address his concerns.

Over winter break, Dale talked with Rebecca Goldman, a fellow unschooler who left Dartmouth College, about his frustrations with higher education. They found that they had precisely the same frustrations about college, even though they had attended different institutions.

After pondering this conversation, Dale came to the conclusion that their frustrations with higher education stemmed not from the specific institutions they had attended, but rather from their common experience: unschooling. They threw around some ideas via email, and Rebecca suggested, “we should just start our own college, à la the movie Accepted.

”Dale decided that as a former unschooler, he could make Rebecca’s unschooler college a reality.

Dale launched UnCollege.org on January 21st, 2011.

I’d never heard of the movie Accepted. This from IMDb

It really is this easy.

It really is this easy.

Bartleby (B.) Gaines is a fun loving slacker who, unfortunately, gets turned down for every college he applied for, much to the chagrin of his overly expectant parents. So, with a little cutting and pasting, he creates the South Harmon Institute of Technology, and lo and behold, he is accepted (along with his friends Rory, Hands, and Glen, whose college plans were also all but dashed). However, his parents want to see the website, the campus, and the dean. So now he has his other friend Sherman (who has been accepted to the prestigious Harmon College) build a web page, they lease out an abandoned psychiatric hospital, and they hire Sherman’s uncle Ben to be the dean. Problem solved? Not quite. The web page was done so well, that hundreds of students show up at the front door, all of which were turned down by other colleges. Faced with no choice, Bartleby decides to proceed with turning South Harmon into a real college, and sets about figuring out what to teach and how to teach it. …

Sounds terrific. No wonder everyone thinks it’s really easy to set up a university.

I’m really not that concerned about entrepreneurial individuals setting up new organisations to challenge traditional universities. I’ve go no problem with that kind of competition. However, the casual dismissal of all formal education as somehow bogus and irrelevant which underpins this particular development I do take issue with. It’s just all too easy.

Jobs in .ac.uk

Some handy data on higher education employment trends

HEFCE has published ‘interactive’ data on the trends in employment of staff in the higher education sector for the ten years, 2003-04 to 2012-13. The data is divided into two main categories: academic roles, such as professors and research assistants and then professional and support roles, including managers and directors. Just over half of the total staff numbers are in the second category.

Looking first at professional staff numbers there has been some growth over the last 10 years although it has dipped from its peak in 2009-10:

prof services numbers

Over the 10 years, professional and support staff numbers have therefore increased by 8 per cent to reach almost 150,000 in 2012-13. In the same period, numbers of academic staff employed at higher education institutions have increased by more than twice that amount: by 20 per cent to reach 125,900 in 2012-13 as the following shows:

Ac staff numbers

There’s more:

For the first time in 2012-13 detailed information on job types is available: higher education institutions in England employ 700 institutional strategic leaders and 1,715 senior managers among academic staff, approximately 3,415 members of staff are in an academic leadership role, 13,855 are employed as professors, and 11,725 are research assistants. Among professional and support staff, approximately 8,070 are managers and directors, 28,365 are employed in professional occupations and 33,585 are non-academic professionals.

Although less precisely, the report notes that:

The English higher education sector has approximately 135 vice-chancellors

I was hoping for a little more certainty on that one.

There are some interesting graphs and charts to look at here but I think ‘interactive’ is overstating the extent of user involvement a little.

Spy kids

GCHQ accredits UK master’s degrees for ‘cyber spies’

Like real spies. Only better educated.

Like real spies. Only better educated.

 

 
Was very much taken by this thrilling news.

Of course we have had Professional Body accreditation for many years and more recently courses supported by Asda and other supermarkets. But this is a little bit different. Not least in the sense that GCHQ is not exactly analagous to an accrediting Professional Body. Or indeed a supermarket.

As BBC News observes this is actually part of a wider government strategy:
 

The degrees form part of the UK’s cyber security strategy published in 2011. The strategy recognised that education was key to improving defences against hackers and online fraud. Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said internet cyber security was a “crucial part” of the government’s long-term plan for the British economy. He said the courses would help to make the “UK one of the safest places in the world to do business online”. He said: “Through the excellent work of GCHQ, in partnership with other government departments, the private sector and academia, we are able to counter threats and ensure together we are stronger and more aware. “UK universities were invited to submit their master’s degree courses for certification.The universities now running GCHQ-approved programmes in cyber security are Edinburgh Napier University, Lancaster University, the University of Oxford and Royal Holloway, University of London. GCHQ has also given provisional accreditation to Cranfield University’s cyber defence and information assurance course, and the University of Surrey’s information security course. A spokesman for GCHQ said the universities “were judged to provide well-defined and appropriate content, delivered to the highest standard”.

Of course you don’t actually apply for these courses. If they want you, they will find you.

It also reminded me of this very recent post on a new book by @DavidDuncan64 about a retired agent who becomes a Registrar.

It’s all getting a bit exciting in the world of higher education, isn’t it?

A long list of management principles

Important maxims to live and work by? Or just a long and forgettable list?

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a diverting piece on a set of rules the new president of the University of Akron has issued to his senior staff:

If Scott L. Scarborough gets his way, the University of Akron will have the cleanest administration in higher education.Literally.Mr. Scarborough, the Ohio university’s newly minted president, has asked all of his senior administrators to commit to a set of “Leadership and Management Principles” that he says will ensure success. The president’s big no-nos, which are outlined in 28 bullet points, include: Failing to pick up trash. Failing to maintain an orderly and clean work environment. Being late to meetings. Losing one’s cool. The inability to answer a question directly and succinctly.

 

Looking at the first set of success factors it would be hard to describe them as particularly novel or visionary. Here’s a sample:

 

principles
And here’s the list of mistakes:

mistakes

It’s an interesting approach. I suspect though that there are very few memorable ones in here. Apart from the picking up trash one. Which really should not need a reminder.

Mobile students

Student mobility in and out of the UK

The British Council has produced this nice graphic on student mobility in and out of the UK:

vis

This new interactive animation shows how the UK as a provider and host of internationally mobile students has evolved over recent years. From 2002 onwards differences in gender, age, level and disciplines studied are displayed for incoming students.The data has been sourced mainly from the Higher Education Statistics Authority and UNESCO Institute for Statistics

It’s fascinating to see the change of patterns of mobility over time and there are several different dimensions to play with. The huge growth in international student recruitment and the shift from European nations to Asia is impressive to watch.

 

Video game scholarships

League of Legends becomes a varsity sport

League_of_legends_logo_transparent

Inside Higher Ed has a story about an Illinois university which has decided to make ‘League of Legends’ a varsity sport and award a number of scholarships to boot:

In the latest blow to the nerd-jock distinction, an Illinois university has added video games to its varsity sports lineup.Robert Morris University-Illinois, a 7,000-student private institution with its main campus in Chicago, announced this month that it would incorporate eSports – organized video-game competitions – into its athletic program. Starting in September, League of Legends players will join hockey goalies, quarterbacks and point guards as varsity athletes at the Chicago campus. The university is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.League of Legends is an online multiplayer battle-arena video game. More than 27 million people play it each day, according to Riot Games, which developed the game.The Chicago-based university, which has no affiliation with Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, is the first institution in the country to assign varsity status to a video game.The university plans to offer between 45 and 50 athletic scholarships to incoming gamers, said Kurt Melcher, the university’s associate athletic director. The scholarships will pay for 50 percent of tuition and 50 percent of room and board for members of the League of Legends team.

I must admit I’m not familiar with this particular game but it does seem rather exciting:

whatislol-intro

League of Legends is a fast-paced, competitive online game that blends the speed and intensity of an RTS with RPG elements. Two teams of powerful champions, each with a unique design and playstyle, battle head-to-head across multiple battlefields and game modes. With an ever-expanding roster of champions, frequent updates and a thriving tournament scene, League of Legends offers endless replayability for players of every skill level.

Still not sure that this quite fits with university sports environment or that video games count as sport. Or indeed that the university will find any other university to play against.

Singalonga Higher Ed

Lyrical challenges at the University of Utah

 

Inside Higher Ed has a diverting piece on the changes being made to the University of Utah’s ‘fight song’ to address some of the lyrical challenges of the original:

The line “our coeds are the fairest” will be replaced with “our students are the finest” and the line “no other gang of college men” will now be “no rival band of college fans.” A further complication is that the song has been called “A Utah Man.” From now on it will be called “A Utah Man/Fan.

 

The Official Athletic Site of the University of Utah has the original lyrics in full:

 

VERSE
I am a Utah man, sir, and I live across the green.
Our gang, it is the jolliest that you have ever seen.
Our coeds are the fairest and each one’s a shining star.
Our yell, you hear it ringing through the mountains near and far.

utah-logoCHORUS
Who am I, sir? A Utah man am I A Utah man, sir, and will be till I die; Ki!Yi!
We’re up to snuff; we never bluff,
We’re game for any fuss,
No other gang of college men
dare meet us in the muss.
So fill your lungs and sing it out and
shout it to the sky,
We’ll fight for dear old Crimson,
for a Utah man am I.

VERSE
And when we prom the avenue, all lined up in a row,
And arm in arm and step in time as down the street we go.
No matter if a freshman green, or in a senior’s gown,
The people all admit we are the warmest gang in town.

CHORUS

VERSE
We may not live forever on this jolly good old sphere,
But while we do we’ll live a life of merriment and cheer,
And when our college days are o’er and night is drawing nigh,
With parting breath we’ll sing that song:
“A Utah Man Am I”.

 
It’s rather quaint in a way but probably needs to be retired rather than edited in this way. I must admit though to being intrigued by the idea of a university having a ‘fight song’. I can understand football teams having songs (see for example this classic which is in a similar vein to the Utah song) but universities?

Anyway, it seems this kind of thing is not as unusual as I had thought as Mike Ratcliffe (@mike_rat) kindly pointed out with this wonderful extract from the Leeds University Song Book from 1922:

Leeds song

 

More recently we have the following, a song produced a few years ago about ‘The student learning experience at Nottingham University’. Not a fight song but certainly offensive in parts:

Any other university songs?

Honorary Degree: serious or celeb 2014

Who are this year’s lucky winners?

A post some time ago on Honorary Degree recipients noted that almost all of them fall clearly into one of two categories: they are either serious or celeb. Back in 2013 I provided a handy list of recent Honoraries for further analysis.

Basically, if you are a serious academic, no matter how outstanding your research, if you haven’t got your own TV series or appearing frequently in the tabloids, you really aren’t going to get the coverage. So, it does rather look like quite a few of the honorary degrees awarded this year might be for something other than sustained and outstanding achoevement in a particular field. But perhaps I’m being harsh and some of these awards are for reasons other than fleeting celebrity:

The very famous breakfast presenter Louise Minchin was recognised by the University of Chester for all of her early morning achievements.

How? Yes, Fred Dinenage got an Honorary from Southampton Solent

HOW?

HOW? (Dinenage at back left. No pipe.)

 

Cheers! Hanover College recognises Woody Harrelson for his many acting achievements.

Pele picks up yet another award, this time from Hofstra.

jeff lynne

Jeff Lynne – All his own hair

Bryan Ferry – Extraordinary that it took so long for Newcastle University to recognise the Roxy Music frontman’s genius

Jeff Lynne, of ELO fame, gets a scroll from BCU.

Placido Domingo – hitting all the right notes at Berklee College of Music
(nope, I’ve never heard of them either).

James Galway, perhaps not as famous as he once was, nevertheless gets an award from Rochester.

Not as famous as he once was

Can you guess which instrument he is famous for?

A collection of giants from the world of popular music have also been recognised by some leading institutions:

Sean Puffy Combs received a lot of publicity for his richly deserved Honorary and commencement address at Howard University.

Puffed up? Moi?

Puffed up? Moi?

Yoko Ono urges graduates “Let’s together be the metronome of our very troubled human culture or human race” after picking up her honorary.

Ricky Ross, legendary Deacon Blue frontman, picked up a degree from Abertay.

They don’t come cooler than this – LL Cool J was rewarded for his outstanding achievements by Northeastern.

Let’s rock as AC/DC’s Brian Johnson gets the nod from Northumbria.

And perhaps the most richly deserved is the honorary for Pitbull. Not before time.

Who can begrudge this award to rock titans Rush who picked up a collective award from the improbably named Nipissing University?

No time for 20 minute solos at graduation folks

No time for 20 minute solos at graduation folks

Moving on…

The University of Kent is recognising this celebrity triumvirate: Harry Hill, Sandy Toksvig and Robert Wyatt – all eminently worthy in their fields (well, Robert Wyatt for sure).

And Edge Hill has an equally impressive trio recognising Johnny Vegas, Harrison Birtwhistle and John Foxx.

 

It's a degree certificate

It’s a degree certificate. Nothing legal at all.

And then, of course, for his outstanding and lengthy football career (rather than his temporary stint as manager at Old Trafford presumably), no writs can prevent us knowing that Ryan Giggs has been awarded a degree by Bolton.

Finally, and most youthfully among this collection, Aaron Porter is to be recognised by his alma mater the University of Leicester. Perhaps more serious than celebrity this one.

So, an impressive and rich crop this year. Any exceptional awards I’ve missed out?

Signs of the Times

Is university signage important for academic achievement?

No. And I fear that this story rather overstates the significance of signage on university campuses.

This piece was pointed out to me by Simon @GlobalHE (to whom many thanks) and covers the importance of signage in education. Whilst I really do want to take it seriously and I do recognise that with a big and diverse campus we do need effective signage for students, staff and visitors, it all seems a bit over the top:

This way and that

Too much information?

Educational buildings are used by a range of demographic groups, from small children to mature students, with a variety of needs and requirements.

A good signage strategy is the starting point to make sure that all staff, students and visitors can move around the school or campus in an efficient, clear and secure way.

“Educational wayfinding signage needs to be clear, concise, accurate, durable and stylish,” said Lindsay Burnham, marketing manager for Astley, an established sign provider in the education sector.She continued: “Not only does the information need to be correct and visible, it also has to meet all health and safety regulations to maintain the wellbeing of the individuals.

”Signage can also play a part in a student’s academic achievements, as Burnham explained: “Attending a new a school or university is daunting for any student and being able to work their way round the campus, to be in the right place at the right time, is a key factor as to whether they feel settled in their new place of study and ultimately that they perform well and are successful.”

So, whilst sign providers will, of course, recommend a carefully planned signage strategy from the early stages of a new build project, it probably isn’t business critical. Or perhaps I’m underestimating the importance of all this.

Betting the farm

A very big gamble

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an extraordinary piece about how one investment manager gambled away $13.1 Million of her university’s money:
cash pile

Over a series of three contracts, Ms. Prizevoits signed over more than $8-million of the 96-year-old university’s money in 2008 to a Florida-based company called Betts and Gambles Global Equities LLC, to invest in collateralized-mortgage obligations. The founder of the company, federal-court documents state, instead spent part of the money on a Ferrari, a Maserati, and real estate.B y 2010, Ms. Prizevoits had become suspicious of the investments she had made with Betts and Gambles, documents state. Even so, she made another questionable investment on behalf of Ball State, sending $5-million to a California company, Blackhawk Wealth Solutions Inc., to invest in fixed-income securities called Treasury Strips. Much of that money flowed to another company, and was then used to buy a series of real-estate properties in the Bronx, N.Y.

Really does seem bizarre that anyone would do this and that they would manage to gamble away quite so much money without anyone noticing.

I would have thought through that the name of the company might have been a pointer to the problems to come: “Betts and Gambles Global Equities” should at least have raised an alarm bell?

The luxury gap

Dormitories v apartments

I wrote some time ago here about the advent of extremely luxurious student accommodation in the US. This was linked to anxieties about students having it all just too easy. Certainly the trend in the UK has been away from shared rooms and bathrooms and towards individual en suite rooms and studio apartments in new complexes with gyms and social spaces.

Now @insidehighered has an essay which argues that colleges are better with old-style dormitories than apartment-like facilities:
LoyolaMD_Dorm

Apartment-style dorm rooms are the Hot New Thing at some colleges nowadays. Single rooms instead of doubles or even quads, exterior doors instead of crowded hallways, private bathrooms instead of gang showers and those icky shared toilets, even mini-kitchens instead of the noisy dining hall – all have an undeniable appeal for incoming freshmen looking to maximize the more adult features of undergraduate life.Many contemporary students grew up with their own bedrooms, and perhaps even their own bathrooms, and may recoil from sharing their personal spaces with that mysterious stranger, the roommate or hallmate. So colleges and universities, particularly sensitive to the preferences of full-pay students, are starting to move away from traditional long-hallway dorms to more individualized rooms, some with generous amenities. Prospective students seem to love the idea.

But, the argument runs, essentially this is not good for the students or their personal and academic development. The shared experience of this kind of residential life makes making friends a lot easier and provides students with a supportive environment when they most need it, at the start of their university life.

I think it’s a persuasive argument but a difficult sell to potential students. The line that it may be old, traditional and lower spec accommodation but it’s good for you is not necessarily the best pitch to applicants. Especially if this is the alternative:

Too much luxury?

Too much luxury?

But for many institutions (and students) there may not be much choice.

Celebrating Student Success

We really do have an outstanding Students’ Union

A nice new website publicising the University of Nottingham Students’ Union’s successes over the past year and its centenary celebrations:

For the last week of the semester, your officers decided it was time to celebrate the things we’d achieved. So, we launched our very first Celebration Week. Celebration Week is the perfect time to look back on the successes of the past year. What’s was the most memorable moment of 2013/14? What was your biggest success? What would you have done differently?Most importantly, we wanted to know how you were celebrating everything you’d been getting up to, while we held some celebrations of our own. Special events, such as the free 100 Heroes exhibition tours, Women in Leadership Tea Party and Mooch Big Brunch, were put together just for Celebration Week.Thanks to everyone for a brilliant year – and we’ll see you again at Welcome!

It’s all terrific stuff and serves to remind us of the essential role students’ unions play in the life of universities. Things have certainly moved on in the past 100 years:

Unions have moved on a little...

Unions have moved on a little…

The Varsity win was pretty good too.

So well done to all of this year’s officers and look forward to even more successes next year.

Most serious league tables of the year?

League tables of choice

All rankings have their shortcomings. Some though are perhaps even more methodologically questionable than others. I was struck recently by two league tables which seemed to be even less credible than this very important ranking of universities based on the length of their name.

First up is the ranking of the most influential UK universities on Twitter. This appeared recently in Times Higher Education but has since sunk without trace. The methodology, if it may be called that, is simply to use a site called followerwonk which magically creates a ‘Social Authority’ score for institutions based on some combination of followers, and number of retweets etc. It doesn’t get much more authoritative than this.

 

influential on twitter

Meanwhile, at the slightly more salacious end of the league table spectrum we have the University Sex League 2014. Nothing dubious about the scoring method here. It’s a self-selecting survey in which there is a slim possibility that respondents might be less than entirely accurate in their recall:

unisexleagueThe bottom 10 has not been reproduced here for obvious reasons.

Anyway, there you have it, two league tables which if they achieve nothing else manage the remarkable feat of making other rankings look pretty credible and methodologically robust.

 

Real or Fake Universities: the results

 Real or fake universities? The votes are in

 

universitybanner

Definitely fake

 

Most of the following list of institutions are from the US and the UK but there are a few from other countries too. Five of these are fake but all the other ones are real. Did you manage to identify the five HE fraudsters?

IHere’s your last chance to have a go at the poll:

So the results are below.

Are you sure?

OK, then you can have a look at the top 10:

 

The Top 10

The Top 10

 

But I guess you will be wanting to know the real from the fake ones then.

Tricky.

There were five definite fakes. And, I’m slightly ashamed to admit, one which has necessitated a stewards’ enquiry.

Four of the definite fakes appear in the top 10.

They are as follows:

  • Watermouth University (You’ll find it in Bradbury’s The History Man.)
  • Rooney University (A university named after one of England’s finest footballers? I think not.)
  • Rummidge University (From the David Lodge trilogy Changing Places, Small World and Nice Work.)
  • Euphoric State University (Also a David Lodge creation appearing in the same novels.)

And then from near the bottom of the poll, spotted by hardly anyone:

  • DuPont University (which appears in Wolfe’s I Am Charlotte Simmons.)

Then we run into a bit of a problem. The improbably named University of Hip-Hop, which topped the poll of likely fakes, does actually exist. However, it is possible that it is not actually a real university either by the common sense definition or by virtue of being likely to earn a place on the HEFCE Register of Higher Education providers. It may even just be a blog and does not actually appear on the highly inclusive UK Register of Learning Providers.

Anyway, here are the staff and students of said institution so it must be real:

 

This really is the University of Hip Hop

This really is the University of Hip Hop

So, apologies for leading anyone up the garden path. But at least we all now know how difficult identifying fake providers is…