FT Global MBA rankings

2008 Global MBA rankings

Just published by the FT.

Not hugely exciting but what does seem to me to be remarkable is that all of the UK institutions appearing in the top 100 have improved their positions since 2006 and all have improved on their positions over last year’s table (some dipped between 06 and 07 but only a few). Most UK MBAs though remain in the lower leagues with only LBS, Judge (Cambridge) and Said (Oxford) appearing in the premiership. Some definitely angling for promotion though and the trend is positive. (And University of Nottingham Business School charging up the table too!)

Mc A-Levels

According to the BBC, a McDonald’s ‘A-level’ is to be launched

Fast-food giant McDonald’s has become one of the first firms to offer its own nationally recognised qualifications. It will offer a “basic shift manager” course, training staff in skills such as human resources and marketing. The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority said the company had been approved to develop courses up to the equivalent of A-level standard. The QCA will also allow Network Rail and Flybe to award qualifications based on their workplace training schemes.

Takes the concept of ’employer engagement’ to a whole new level. Especially if you see this as a stepping stone to the over-literally monikered “Hamburger University”.

Is there a chance that some might possibly categorise this as one of those “soft A-levels” which were in the news recently?

BBC update on the involvement of Flybe – they will be offering study at degree level too it seems.

Fee generosity?

In the context of reports about bursary support in English universities it is instructive to consider some recent developments from the Ivy League:

First, from the Chronicle:

Yale University said on Monday that it would reduce the average cost of studying in New Haven, Conn., by at least half for families with annual incomes below $120,000. The announcement came just a month after Harvard University announced a similar plan to reduce debt among students from middle- and upper-middle-income families. Under Yale’s plan, most families who earn $60,000 to $120,000 will contribute 1 to 10 percent of their income per year. Families with earnings of $120,000 to $200,000 will pay an average of 10 percent of their income per year, seeing a reduction of about 33 percent. Parents earning less than $60,000 will not have to contribute to their child’s education.

In an interview, Richard C. Levin, Yale’s president, said that the university’s leaders had been considering the move for a couple of years but that two factors had influenced the timing of the announcement. One was that federal lawmakers have recently urged colleges to spend a larger percentage of their endowments on student aid. The other was the growth of Yale’s wealth: The university had a 28-percent return on its $22.5-billion endowment in the last fiscal year.

Interesting that, whilst there is no OFFA equivalent, nevertheless there is a perceived pressure to improve student aid provision. And the scale of the endowment remains breathtaking.

And from the Economist, a report that Yale is simply following Harvard:

yale logo

Yale, Harvard’s bitterest rival, revealed its plans on January 14th. Students whose families make less than $60,000 a year will pay nothing at all. Families earning up to $200,000 a year will have to pay an average of 10% of their incomes. The university will expand its financial-assistance budget by 43%, to over $80m. Harvard will have a similar arrangement for families making up to $180,000. That makes the price of going to Harvard or Yale comparable to attending a state-run university for middle- and upper-income students. The universities will also not require any student to take out loans to pay for their tuition, a policy introduced by Princeton in 2001 and by the University of Pennsylvania just after Harvard’s announcement. No applicant who gains admission, officials say, should feel pressured to go elsewhere because he or she can’t afford the fees.

Which is good news for those who get in and pretty easy to do for Yale and Harvard given their endowments but it is no doubt the subject of much grumbling from other, less wealthy, institutions (and Princeton, where they did this seven years ago).

(with thanks to Caryl T for the spot)

Web searching: quality not quantity?

Interested to note the development of Intute

This is the pitch:

Intute is a free online service providing access to the very best web resources for education and research. All material is evaluated and selected by a network of subject specialists to create the Intute database. With millions of resources available on the Internet, it is difficult to find relevant and appropriate material even if you have good search skills and use advanced search engines. Issues of trust, quality, and search skills are very real and significant concerns – particularly in a learning context. Academics, teachers, students and researchers are faced with a complex environment, with different routes into numerous different resources, different user interfaces, search mechanisms and authentication processes.

So far so good.


The Intute database makes it possible to discover the best and most relevant resources in one easily accessible place. You can explore and discover trusted information, assured that it has been evaluated by specialists for its quality and relevance. This is where the Intute database comes into its own. It allows access to both subject-specific and cross-subject resources, all of which have been evaluated for their quality and relevance. Our mission is simple – Intute exists to advance education and research by promoting the best of the Web in one easily accessible place, providing access to quality resources through a process of evaluation and collaboration.

Better still. This sounds genuinely exciting.

And I really do hope it works out. I do hope the core academic areas are better in terms of their quality and relevance than the first section I looked in, namely Higher Education. A few of the 125 references were new to me and some of them were absolutely solid and sensible. But the inclusion, for example, of a five year old speech by the VC of Buckingham (and the only VC contribution in here) just seems bizarre. Likewise the inclusion of Million+ (what was CMU, ie university pressure group) but not the other groups, seems odd (perhaps because it has called itself a ‘think tank’?).

Early days though and sure it will get better with time and user comment. Let’s hope it takes off.

Where to find £500m or so?

According to “THE” (that’s going to take a bit of getting used to – “have you seen the “THE” then?”), it’s a total savings package for DIUS of around £1.5B.

A quoted DIUS VFM report says:

“Key areas being targeted are in higher education institutions, including procurement savings, shared services, better use of information and communications technology and of accommodation space.”

pig in a poke

A slightly different angle emerges in the Secretary of State’s grant letter to HEFCE where there is an expectation that HE will find £500m by 2010-11 in the areas of shared services, procurement and rationalising funding streams.

Whatever the precise source of proposed savings, this all seems to be slightly on the over-optimistic side?

He really doesn’t like the QAA

Entertaining Guardian interview with Thomas Docherty

It includes some quotations from his forthcoming book which offer a choice perspective on the QAA:

Is the Quality Assurance Agency (a) a safeguard designed to maintain and improve academic standards or (b) the “worst thing to happen to higher education in recent times – and perhaps ever”?

Docherty is not afraid of courting controversy. “The QAA, for those of us who have suffered under its tawdry posturing, is a cancer that gnaws at the core of knowledge, value and freedom in education; its carcinogenic growth is now perhaps the greatest pervasive danger to the function of a university as a surviving institution,” he writes. “It has presided over the valorisation and celebration of mediocrity, paradoxically at the very moment when it is allegedly assuring the public of the quality of education and universities …”

Looking forward to reading more. The book is:

The English Question: Or Academic Freedoms

The synopsis on Amazon:

To be or not to be free, that is the question, the English question, the question of what is academic English at the beginning of the 21st century. So argues Thomas Docherty in this new and important new study, a study that begins with the claim that the fundamental idea governing the institution of the University is a will to freedom. Tracing a history of the modern European University from Vico onwards and including Hume, Rousseau, Schiller, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Newman, Alain, Benda and Jaspers, the author argues the academy’s will to freedom is grounded in study of the ‘eloquence’ that has shaped literate and humane values. He goes on to explore the current condition of English as a literary discipline, arguing that literary studies is (or should be) a search for the unknown; and that in only that search can the academy establish the real meaning – or meanings – of social, political and ethical freedom.

So it really does go much further than just a critique of the QAA.

Help from Mum and Dad

BBC Education has a report on this wonderful phenomenon:

Parents are paying hundreds of pounds for degree-course essays for their children studying at university, claims an essay-writing service.

The essay company, UKEssays.com, says that 78% of student customers buying essays are using their parents’ money. “The students will talk about the essay they want and then they put their parents on the phone to give the credit card details,” says a spokesman. The company says these are “model essays” and not for plagiarism.

Of course not. Why would anyone pay for a model answer and then plagiarise it?

This company has been doing a lot to tout its business locally too.

And it appears that if your parents were really flush, they could pay £40k for a PhD thesis. All perfectly reasonable.

Questionable universities

Good and detailed report from the BBC on this particular institution: “Bogus university scam uncovered”.

An international education scam that targets foreign students who come to study in the capital has been exposed by a BBC London investigation. The bogus Irish International University (IIU), which offers sub-standard and worthless degrees, has been allowed to flourish in the UK – virtually unchecked by government – for the last seven years. Although the organisation is unaccredited, hundreds of students have been given educational visas to enter Britain and take its exams at private colleges in London. The IIU, which has 5,000 students worldwide and thousands of graduates, maintains the illusion of a valid education through its elaborate but highly misleading website. This illusion is enhanced by the university’s continued use of Oxford and Cambridge facilities to stage its award ceremonies.

The website for the Irish International University itself is worth a look.

Intl u

You keep digging but just can’t find anything which would suggest that this is a genuine university or indeed who its international partners are.