Where will they go? Student Destinations – Global Agent Survey

The latest survey of international recruitment agent views

Given that I am currently at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus on a brief visit I thought I would focus on an international story. ICEF (an international market intelligence outfit) and i-graduate have just published their 2012 global survey of international student recruitment agents’ views on destination countries. The headline figures are probably what you would expectwith the US, Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand all showing well. But there are two particularly interesting points in this table and the commentary with it:

Year-over-year, the most remarkable change among leading destination countries can be found in Canada. Since 2008, Canada has risen fully 15 percentage points in its perceived attractiveness among education agents. Compare that to the US (a gain of 5 percentage points since 2008), the UK (a loss of 7 percentage points), Australia (a loss of 1 percentage point), and New Zealand (a gain of 3 percentage points). In 2008, Canada was tied with Australia in third place; in 2012, it is tied with the UK in second. Asian agents in particular registered a great surge in how attractive they consider Canada.

The first is the rise and rise of Canada as a destination. It is really impressive and this perceived attractiveness has, I believe, been confirmed in international student recruitment data. The second is the UK’s decline over the past five years but its stability in the most recent two years when the government’s significantly anti-immigration stance has been most pronounced. The fear must be though that this will get worse in future as the impact of visa restrictions and the reputational fall-out from the London Met debacle bites.

It will be really interesting to see how this plays out in future.

An Odd New League Table – the Great Space Race

A League Table Based on Dropbox Use

Not certain this will catch on. It’s a league table of universities based on the number of Dropbox users.


The United Kingdom rankings look like this (the number of “space racers” is, I assume, the number of Dropbox users who have signed up with a .ac.uk email address):


1 University of Oxford 2,682 5,536 points

2 University of Cambridge 2,499 5,291 points

3 Imperial College London 2,193 4,799 points

4 University College London 1,945 4,123 points

5 University of Southampton 1,599 3,401 points

6 University of Edinburgh 1,363 2,869 points

7 University of Warwick 971 2,109 points

8 University of Manchester 827 1,821 points

9 University of Nottingham 787 1,723 points

10 London School of Economics and Political Science 837 1,667 points

It seems that the ranking is based on number of users plus something else. A rather opaque methodology. Very little additional detail can be found on the  Dropbox Great Space Race! site. There do appear to be some benefits in terms of additional storage space for universities which score highly.

Will it take off? Time will tell. (With thanks to David Simpson @dvdsmpsn for the spot.)

Frightening Stuff: It’s Monsters University

Fictional and daft but really rather impressive

My attention was drawn recently to the Monsters University website. It is of course an entirely fictional construct to promote a new animated movie from Pixar which is a prequel to Monsters Inc from a decade ago.


Looking through the site it really is a quite good pastiche of the top level of university websites. It covers everything from Admissions to Campus Life and student related policies on employment, keeping pets and international student support. An extract from the University history gives a flavour:

Established in 1313 following a land grant from the city of Monstropolis, Monsters University has grown from a small local center of learning to a leading global institution of higher education. Upon this hallowed ground, some of the most fabled academic buildings in the world have been built, serving the hundreds of thousands of alumni that have walked the halls and grounds of MU.

So, utterly daft but really also rather good. It also helpfully reminds us that our own institutions’ sites might be just a few words away from the cartoon world. My only criticisms would be that the curriculum in the School of Scaring looks a little thin and there is insufficient coverage of Professional Monster Services.

University Education – Free for Everyone?

Will everyone have free HE in 10 years’ time? Or is this just more MOOC hype?

An interesting piece in Time on “Why College May Be Totally Free Within 10 Years”. It’s a report of an interesting (but perhaps rather sinister sounding) TedEx style think tank event called the Nantucket Project.


The report commented on presentations by Peter Thiel and Vivek Wadhwa:

Thiel has gotten a lot of attention for his view that higher education is broken, and that many kids would be better off saving their money and going straight from high school into a trade or developing a business. His “20 under 20” fellowship grants high school graduates with a sound business idea $100,000 if they agree to skip college and go right to work on their idea.

Wadhwa’s views are less well known, even though he served as a counter-point interview last May on a 60 Minutes segment featuring Thiel. Wadhwa has unwavering faith in the power of technology to fix much of what is wrong with the world, and he believes that online courses will revolutionize higher education and cut the cost to near zero for most students over the next decade.

It’s probably not quite what they are campaigning for

Both interesting but really at the hyperbole-driven end of the debate. Then we have the voice of reason from Larry Summers:

Summers, a former president of Harvard, agrees that higher education is in transition. But he thinks Thiel is “badly wrong” about his bubble theory and that Wadhwa is severely underestimating the value of the total university experience. The gap between what college graduates and high school graduates earn is only widening, which speaks to the continuing value of a college degree—no matter what it costs. And, says Summers, “If you think higher education is expensive, try ignorance.”

There is a reason that people pay a lot of money to go to an event like the Super Bowl when it is free on TV, Summers offers. They get more out of it by being present. Something similar is true of an on-campus education, where you may attend extra-curricular events and engage more fully with faculty and other students.

For his part, Wadhwa allows that there will always be students able and willing to pay for a traditional college experience and for them it will be a worthwhile investment. But for the vast majority, from a financial standpoint that kind of education makes no sense and is fast becoming unnecessary. He believes the higher education revolution is coming soon and will happen fast—perhaps fast enough to keep the next generation from finishing school with debts they may never be able to pay.

It’s all breathlessly exciting of course but Summers is right to stress the value of the university experience. As has been noted in previous pieces here on MOOCS – on why they aren’t perhaps as revolutionary as some suggest and some reasons for universities not to panic about them – there is a long way to go before any universities are obliterated by the online wave. And there is a lot more to higher education than content delivery. It’s yet more hype and we’d better get used to it.

The Three World University League Tables of 2012/13

World University League Tables 2012/13

Following the publication of the THE world university rankings, we can put the three world league tables together, and in particular the UK placings, in a handy reference guide. They all offer their own unique take on world university placings.

Here they all are:

The Times Higher World University Rankings, including UK results.

QS World Rankings 2012 also with UK results.

Shanghai Jiao Tong World Rankings and UK placings too.

…all your world league table needs in one handy location.

One fascinating quirk of the world versus UK tables which demonstrates why caution is needed at all times when dealing with such data is that the University of Edinburgh appears higher in the world rankings in both the QS and Times Higher tables than it does in the recent domestic Sunday Times ranking (where it is 39th). Different indicators being used but it really does raise questions about the Sunday Times methodology.

True Crime on Campus §24: Hide and Seek

More true crime on campus: bet you can’t find me

Bizarre things can happen on campus. Fortunately, our excellent Security staff are more than able to cope with just about anything. Even when it involves students hiding from them:

1230 Report of a Contractor working at a Hall had closed the boot of their own vehicle and struck themselves on the head causing a small cut to their head. Security attended – the Hall Manager is to complete the on line accident form.

2030 Report that a student had banged his head on a door frame in Hall. Security attended and checked the student. The student had a mark on his head. The Hall Staff completed an Accident form.

1849 Report of two students using a deodorant spray to set off the fire alarm in Hall. Both students were spoken to and told that they would be reported to the Hall Warden.

0300 Report of a student naked and trying to vomit in their shower in Ancaster Hall. The Hall Tutor requested that Security to help get the student out of the shower as he was cold and naked.

2020 Patrol Security Officers stopped a male who was kicking and moving cones in Trent Building Quad. The male was very abusive and would not stop swearing at Officers. The male who had no connection to the University identified himself as a serving solider. Given the level of abuse Security Management will be contacting the Army.

18:00 While shutting the windows in room A42 Sir Clive Granger building the blinds fell down in one of the windows. Help desk informed.

1930 Report that a Professor had contacted the QMC Security stating he thought he had left a portable heater on in his Office. QMC Security did not have access to the area University Security attended and also could not access the area. As QMC Security had not taken a contact number for the Professor there was no way to contact him. Security Officers monitored the area during the night and are to follow up today. The Office was within the Hospital and not part of the Medical School.

1000 Report of a student with an injury to their ankle. Security attended and took the student to Cripps Health Centre. The injury was caused according to the student by her stepping funny.

14:40 Security attended the Atrium on Jubilee Campus after receiving a report from a member of staff that several youths were causing a nuisance by running in and out of the building. The youths complied when asked to leave the Campus.

0415 Report of a male sleeping in a computer room in the Trent Building. Security attended. The male was a student who had fallen asleep while working. The student made his way home.

2010 Report of a large number of students running around the Trent Building. Security Officers attended. The students explained that they were playing hide and seek. The Hide and Seek Society President was found by Officers and spoken to. Officers conducted a search of the building and located all the other hiding students. I understand that Officers declined their turn to go and hide.

The Imperfect University: Mobility Matters

The Imperfect University: Staff getting on their bikes

One of the things professional services colleagues sometimes complain about is that whereas  academic staff can be promoted in post – and indeed can progress all the way from lecturer to professor in the same academic department – they can’t. Instead to advance their careers administrators have to move – either elsewhere in the institution or to another university. This is often presented as a problem whereas I have to say I think it is much more of a positive position. Whilst there is something to be said for having people in post in administrative roles in central or academic departments who know their jobs inside out, who carry a sense of the institutional history and provide the continuity between rotating professors as heads of department, there is also a difficulty in such longevity in one particular role. Essentially the challenge is this – many intelligent, creative and able administrators, no matter how committed to a particular department or institution, can, unless they are given new challenges and fresh stimulus in their job, sometimes become dull, stale and bored. They may, no matter how able, become less productive over time as tedium and routine replaces challenge and excitement. I should stress that this is not always the case and is challenged as a proposition by some of my colleagues.

In my view the way to address this issue is not to argue for the opportunity for professional services staff to be promoted in role (although if their job does change radically then the regarding opportunity will exist) – this is the wrong way of approaching the matter. Rather there should be the possibility of moving staff regularly to new roles in different parts of the university to provide them with new challenge and stimulus. Ultimately this not only gives people more satisfaction in their work and makes them more productive but, because it broadens their experience too they become more employable in other roles and stand a better chance of securing a more senior role in their current or another institution.

Times Higher Education recently carried a piece on the development of university leaders and noted the success of the University of Warwick in this regard. One of those things for which the administration at Warwick under Mike Shattock and subsequently was famed was the propensity for moving staff around to ensure they gained new experiences and enjoyed exposure to new ideas and new work opportunities to keep them interested, stimulated and challenged. This was my experience at the University (I had seven different jobs in just under nine years at Warwick) and I found the experience hugely beneficial.

This is hard to do though. Given the structures in universities which often involve significant devolution to academic units and therefore means that administrative staff can be located in dispersed teams at Department, School or Faculty level the managed redeployment or rotation of staff can be extremely difficult to organise. Professional specialisms – in HR, Finance, IT, and Estates – make such rotation even harder although I would suggest that the previous decline of the generalist administrator has been reversed and it is perfectly possible for specialists to transfer into and succeed at more generalist roles (although rarely vice versa).

The Higher Education sector in the UK employs over 380,000 staff of whom 200,000 work in non-academic roles and professional services (HESA 2010/11 data). Whilst the career route is well defined and understood for academic staff (albeit an extremely tough profession to enter), entry to HE administration is less well defined. There is a national pay spine but grades for administrative staff vary across the sector. The entry level for graduates is generally understood but no common graduate scheme exists, unlike in the NHS which has had a well-developed national scheme for prospective NHS managers operating successfully for many years. A small number of institutions have operated local graduate trainee programmes down the years but they have not really taken off in any significant way.

In the absence of any national graduate entry programme and the challenges with managed rotation one alternative approach is to introduce a variety of work opportunities at the beginning of administrators’ careers. As well as providing a clear opportunity for entry to a career in higher education administration this was part of our motivation at the University of Nottingham for introducing our own local Graduate Trainee Programme in 2008.

An extract from the last advertisement for the programme gives a flavour of the opportunity:

This Graduate Trainee Programme offers an invaluable opportunity to prepare talented, hard-working and enthusiastic Nottingham graduates for a management role within this stimulating setting.

The programme is aimed exclusively at University of Nottingham graduates interested in developing a career in university administration. It offers an invaluable insight into this dynamic management activity whilst developing an understanding of:

  • markets
  • income streams
  • resource allocation processes
  • client bases including students, funding bodies, commercial partners and employers.

The programme offers four trainees the opportunity to experience key components of university operation and build an understanding of the institution’s strategy.

Over 12 months the trainees undertake a planned rotation of placements in different areas of the University, reporting to senior staff. Placements will be across Professional Services and Schools, and trainees may have the opportunity to work at one of the University’s international campuses in Malaysia or China.

Placement areas may include:

  • Academic Services
  • Business Engagement and Innovation Services
  • Research and Graduate Services
  • Human Resources
  • Finance and Business Services
  • Student Operations
  • Governance
  • Marketing
  • Admissions

Successful trainees will gain the transferable skills necessary to move on to positions within the University with a clear understanding of how a large university operates. Outstanding performance on the programme may facilitate a longer term opportunity at Nottingham.

This kind of programme gives trainees a wide range of experiences early, sets them up well, gives them a rounded view of university operations both from departmental and central perspectives. It also makes them extremely employable and almost all of the graduates of the Nottingham GTP have gone onto subsequent employment within the University or at other HE institutions.

Having run successfully for four years at Nottingham this model has now been adapted and adopted as a pilot for a national scheme, initially involving eight universities (including Nottingham) and co-ordinated by AHUA (the national association for Registrars and other heads of university administration). Further details of this year’s recruitment can be found here.

The UK higher education sector really does need such a scheme and this programme will develop a cadre of senior managers for the future who have not only undertaken a variety of roles in their home institution but have also had a range of experiences in another university too. In addition, they will benefit from a structured professional development programme under the AUA CPD framework.

Excellent universities need outstanding managers who have broad experience and are able to take an institutional view where necessary. Mobility and dynamism of staff is key to achieving this and is in interest of both professional staff and their institutions. The nascent national Graduate Trainee Programme which is developing under the auspices of AHUA offers the prospect of achieving this in a widespread and sustainable way which can only be beneficial for universities in the UK.


No more swimming to graduation

You can now graduate without being able to swim

Inside Higher Ed carries the shock news that the University of Chicago has decided to drop its swimming, fitness tests and PE requirements for graduation:

The University of Chicago this month became the latest institution to drop a swimming proficiency test required for graduation. But Chicago made another change, as well: it will eliminate its physical education requirements and, in doing so, cut the fitness test students could take to place out of the fitness classes.

In a statement sent to all undergraduates, College Dean John W. Boyer and Karen Warren Coleman, vice president for campus life and student services, said students will instead “be invited to participate in an expanded array” of voluntary physical education, athletics and recreation programs.

“Whatever the reason for the initial decision [by the dean of students] in 1953, our students’ needs have changed over the years,” Warren Coleman said in prepared comments sent to reporters via e-mail. “Our community members can pursue their varied athletic interests without the need for a curricular requirement.” She added that “more than half” of the university’s peer institutions do not have physical education requirements for graduation. The number of PE courses in the catalog, which now will be taken voluntarily and not-for-credit, has “decreased,” a spokesman said.

I must admit to being rather astounded that such a requirement existed in the first place. Even more so that it has remained in place for nearly 60 years. But it does seem that others have similar requirements. Whilst in the UK we would all be keen to promote sporting activities to students and healthy living more broadly I simply can’t imagine it being included as any kind of formal requirement for graduation. Bizarre.

Calm down everyone: Yale-NUS appoints new deans

A lot of fuss over not very much news?

I must admit to being both amazed and slightly peeved at the level of publicity generated by the Yale-NUS development in Singapore which is still a year from opening. It is also fascinating how much money seems to be being poured in and the kind of staff being appointed in advance of the first intake of students. An earlier post noted some previous news about the new College.

The latest update comes courtesy of Yale Daily News which reports that Yale-NUS has appointed some new deans and gives us some diverting information about their family circumstances:

Former Jonathan Edwards College Dean Kyle Farley will serve as the inaugural dean of students at Yale-NUS College, the school announced Thursday evening.

Farley left Yale in fall 2011 to work at Academies Australasia, an educational group that serves international students studying in Australia. At the time, Farley said his move was partly motivated by his wife’s desire to return to Australia, where her family lives. The day before Wednesday’s announcement, Yale-NUS President Pericles Lewis said the new dean of students will be expected make decisions about how to address Singapore’s restrictions on political parties and public protests, and address any “gray areas” that might be found in Singaporean law.

Yale-NUS also announced Thursday that Anastasia Vrachnos — former executive director of the Princeton in Asia program, which Lewis compared to the University’s Yale-China Association — will serve as the college’s dean of international and professional experience.

During her tenure at Princeton in Asia, the program doubled its endowment, tripled its participants and started programs in 12 new countries.

“Being dean of international and professional experience, it’s really about outreach and placing people off campus,” Lewis said. “She’s placed a whole lot of Princeton students in very good situations that have been very valuable to them.”

In addition to Farley and Vrachno, Yale-NUS has two other appointed deans: Dean of Faculty Charles Bailyn and Dean of Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan.

In other news the Vision and Mission of the new College is pretty ambitious:


A community of learning,

Founded by two great universities,

In Asia, for the world.


Yale-NUS College, a residential college located in Singapore, aims to redefine liberal arts and science education for a complex, interconnected world.

Modest enough I guess. Further details of the venture can be found at its website here.

There has been an awful lot of fuss over the new College and it is undoubtedly one of the more high profile international campus developments for US or European universities. But it still seems a striking level of coverage when the first intake, which will only be 150 students, is a year off and the total student population is likely to be around 1,000. On the other hand many of the staff, from the President downwards, do have great names.

The Times, Sunday Times, Guardian and Complete University Guide League Tables 2012-13

The four 2012-13 UK University League Tables

A previous post offered the first three UK university league tables of 2012-13 and this one now updates this to include the final one from this year from the Sunday Times.  All of the tables have previously been summarised here. As a handy reference guide, here they are:

The Complete University Guide 2013

The 2013 Guardian League Table

The Times 2013 University League Table

The Sunday Times 2012-13

A full house of all your UK university league table needs. Don’t forget to handle with enormous care though.

MOOCS: 12 Reasons for universities not to panic

Don’t believe the hype?

There has been an extraordinary level of hype in higher education (and beyond) about Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs. Vice-Chancellors and their senior management teams up and down the country have been fretting about the developments and whether they need to get on board with one of the big players to avoid missing out. Two UK universities have recently announced their membership of a MOOC consortium with both Edinburgh University and the University of London signing up with Coursera. Meanwhile in the US the governance chaos at the University of Virginia where the President was forced to resign by governors and then reinstated two weeks later was prompted, at least in part, by differences of opinion on institutional strategy in relation to MOOCs.

At least not yet

As noted in an earlier post, MOOCs are big and new and challenging for universities but in many ways they are a contemporary echo of aspirations for wider access to higher level study from an earlier age. So, if your university is asking whether it’s going to miss out by not joining one of the MOOC consortia or if your senior management team is in a spin about missing the MOOC bandwagon or even struggling to understand what the heck this is all about, here are a dozen good reasons not to panic.

  1. There isn’t a business model for MOOCs that stacks up. OK, there are hundreds of thousands of students enrolled but they aren’t paying a penny for the privilege. And it really isn’t free to design, develop and deliver online provision. The unit cost per student may be negligible but the real up front costs and maintenance are non trivial investments as noted in this earlier blog.
  2. Badges. Universities deliver higher education. We award degrees. MOOCs however adopt the cub scout approach to knowledge acquisition by giving you a badge or a nice attendance certificate if you make it to the end. Accreditation matters. Academic credentials have meaning and currency because of how they are attained and the means by which academic standards and quality are assured. Badges don’t offer this. They are just, well, badges.
  3. While we’re on the subject: Quality assurance – there really isn’t any to write home about. This is not to say that any old garbage will be delivered by anyone with a camera, a cool shirt and a wifi connection but rather that the quality assurance frameworks which govern MOOCs are, inevitably, fundamentally different from those which operate in universities.
  4. Standards. Similarly, it is pretty much impossible at the moment to assure the academic standards of MOOCs. Whilst part of the idea is to encourage collaboration between students and despite the introduction in certain specific cases of supervised examinations, plagiarism is inevitable and there is simply no way to test whether any assessment is genuinely a student’s own work.


  5. Online isn’t that new and shiny. Lots of universities are already delivering online provision. Just look at iTunesU – there are hundreds of institutions represented and thousands of educational courses and other offerings.
  6. It’s not a revolution. Despite what Moody’s may say, we’ve been here before. From correspondence courses to the launch of the Open University and from Mechanics’ Institutes to the University of London External Programme there really isn’t anything in this which has not been done before, albeit in slightly different ways.
  7. Wastage rates are enormous. 90% plus in many cases. That really isn’t a ringing endorsement. It’s low stakes for the participants. Many people are taking such courses just out of interest or to brush up their technical skills. While this remains the case then wastage will continue to be high and the hold of MOOCs will be tenuous.
  8. Content not education. MOOCs aren’t offering education but rather just content delivery. The classroom and campus experience and the face-to–face interaction with other learners and teachers is a key element of learning. People still matter. Especially in education.
  9. Tech. Computers still aren’t very good at marking essays. Most assessments are therefore more limited and plagiarism is easier.
  10. Inputs matter. Universities select their students for a good reason. They want them to be able to benefit from the course and have a reasonable chance of completing it. Complete open access means that high wastage rates are the norm and you can’t be confident that the ones who finish the course are any better for it or indeed if they did any of the work themselves.
  11. The Open University isn’t panicking. If any institution should be concerned it would be the OU as MOOCs would seem to strike at the heart of their business model. They aren’t. Indeed they seem to be doing better than ever.
  12. MOOCs are nothing without universities (where are all those trendy professors going to be educated otherwise?). And, despite what Sebastian Thrun, founder of Udacity, predicts there will be more than 10 universities in the world half a century from now.

So, don’t panic. Yet. Because before we get too dismissive of the hype surrounding the game-changing, paradigm-shifting, revolutionary nature of MOOCs there are several reasons to pause for thought:

  • Numbers. There really are very large numbers of people following MOOCs who traditional higher education is not reaching. Internationally and locally there are opportunities for universities to reach new audiences which they really should be considering.
  • Ethos. The aims of the MOOC consortia in terms of promoting accessibility, participation and democratization of learning are laudable and should not be dismissed lightly.
  • Avoiding complacency. The services we offer to students who do enrol, study and stay on our campuses can always be improved. Students do have a choice and we need to ensure they get maximum value from their university experience.
  • IT. Many universities struggle to harness technological developments to support student learning. We can still do a lot better.

There is no need to panic therefore. At least not just yet. But setting aside the hype there are lessons to be learned and universities will want to consider how to raise their game. Just to be on the safe side.

THE World University Rankings 2013

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2012-13 are out

The final ranking of the season is now available from THE. The top 20 looks like this:

        1 California Institute of Technology (1)
        =2 Oxford University (4)
        =2 Stanford University (2=)
4 Harvard (2=)
5 MIT (7)
        6 Princeton (5)
        7 Cambridge (6)
8 Imperial College London (8)
        9 University of California, Berkeley (10)
        10 University of Chicago (9)
11 Yale University (11)
        12 ETH Zürich (15)
13 University of California, Los Angeles (13)
        14 Columbia University (12)
15 University of Pennsylvania (16)
        16 Johns Hopkins University (14)
        17 University College London (17)
        18 Cornell University (20)
        19 Northwestern (26)
        20 University of Michigan (18)

CalTech remains at number one for the second year in a row but not a great deal of movement generally in the top 20 and there are still four UK universities in there.

More details of the methodology and regional and subject variations are available on the THE World University Rankings site.

UK rankings

As the following shows, there are 10 UK institutions in the top 100 (two fewer than last year):

      2= University of Oxford
7 University of Cambridge
8 Imperial College London
      17 University College London
      32 University of Edinburgh

39 LSE

49 University of Manchester
      57 King’s College London

74 University of Bristol
      80 Durham University

And 21 more in the second 100:

      103 York
      108 University of St Andrews
      110= University of Sussex
      110= University of Sheffield
      119 Royal Holloway
      120 University of Nottingham
      124= Warwick
      130= Southampton
      139 University of Glasgow
      142= Leeds

145= Lancaster University
      145= Queen Mary
      153 Exeter
      158= Birmingham
      171= Liverpool
      176= Aberdeen
      176= Reading
      176= UEA
      180= Newcastle
      196= Leicester
      200 Birkbeck

The overall analysis includes the proposition that universities in the West are losing ground to those in Asia. It is argued that greater investment in the East is benefitting those universities at the expense of European and US institutions which have suffered from government funding cuts. Whilst the rankings do show some change it is perhaps premature to attribute such movement to Western government policies on the basis of one year’s figures and given the relative stability of most of the indicators used (see below).

Some of the other highlights noted by THE:

  • The highest-ranked institution outside of the US and UK is ETH Zürich, in Switzerland, in 12th place
  • Asia’s number one university is the University of Tokyo, in 27thplace
  • After the US and UK, the Netherlands is the next best represented nation in the top 200, with 12 institutions, but its highest-ranked institution, Leiden University, makes only 64th place
  • Of the so-called BRIC developing economies, Russia and India have no representatives in the top 200
  • All of the Netherlands’ 12 universities improved their positions in the rankings
  • Japan has five top 200 universities, more than any other Asian nation, but most of its representatives have slipped a little down the table while Asian rivals rise
  • Ireland has just two top 200 institutions – and neither make the top 100
  • Six countries have only one top 200 representative – Austria, Brazil, Finland, New Zealand, South Africa and Taiwan
  • Australia increased its representation by one, and now has eight institutions in the table. Six of the eight improved their rankings
  • The average top 200 US university fell 6.5 places, while the average UK institution fell 6.7 places
  • The South Korean institutions in the top 200 rose a startling 23.5 place on average, and the Hong Kong institutions rose an average of 8.5 places

The data used is taken from five main areas as follows:

Industry Income – innovation
1. Research income from industry / Academic staff
Teaching – the learning environment
2. Reputation survey – Teaching
3. Staff-to-student ratio
4. PhDs awarded / Undergraduate degrees awarded
5. PhDs awarded / Academic staff
6. Institutional income / Academic staff
Citations – research influence
7. Citation impact (normalised average citations per paper)
Research – volume, income and reputation
8. Reputation survey – Research
9. Research income / Academic staff
10. Scholarly papers / (Academic staff + Research staff)
International Outlook – staff, students and research
11. International students / Total students
12. International academic staff / Total academic staff
13. Scholarly papers with one or more international co-authors / Total scholarly papers

All interesting stuff in any case.

(All of the above data is from the Times Higher Education with data supplied by Thomson Reuters.)

Personalised campus visits

A US University has really gone for personalisation in a big way


Lynn University has gone to really quite extraordinary lengths to offer a personalised experience for prospective students visiting its campus. Inside Higher Ed reports on the university’s attempt to attract more students:

Lynn University is so invested in prospective students enjoying their time on campus that even before a student enrolls the university has a parking spot with their name on it.

Every prospective student who comes to visit the campus gets his or her own spot. A series of well-marked signs directs them from the parking lot to the admissions building. A screen in the admissions office welcomes students to the campus by name.

But that’s just the beginning. Around campus, it’s like the student has been there for years. Everyone knows that prospective student’s name, what he or she might be interested in studying, and where he or she is from. Current students take prospective students around to see whatever they want on campus and talk about majors and extracurricular activities, and faculty members in their potential majors dine with them to talk about courses.

It’s a bit different from the large open day experience at many UK institutions where thousands visit at any one time and personalisation can be a challenge. Nevertheless, in the competitive market place in which we are all now operating many universities continue to work hard to offer high quality open day visits. Parking is always a challenge though even at the best of times and I’m not sure dining with academic staff is going to be on offer for large numbers of students. But might this be the future for some?