Voting for Committees

Faculty Representation in Governance.

Voting for professors?

Voting for professors?


An interesting piece on faculty representation in governance the Chronicle of Higher Education. The argument is that faculty representation in governance structures is not always ideal:

Perhaps this will sound familiar from your campus: Some appalling, or just bizarre/confusing, initiative will come down the pike, and faced with faculty protests, the administration will say, “But there were faculty on the committee–this was vetted by the faculty.” In such events, it invariably turns out, a few faculty members had in fact been appointed to the committee, typically chosen by an administrator, usually (if ironically) in the name of faculty governance.

Why ironically? Because the mere presence of some faculty members doesn’t constitute representation. The administrative selection of congenial faculty for certain committees is just a form of governance-washing (cf.): You pick faculty members who you can be reasonably confident will go along with something, regardless of whether they have any particular constituency on campus or any particular expertise. (A colleague elsewhere describes this, a little unkindly, as the sycophant pool.) Presto: you’ve insulated yourself from faculty criticism, comfortable in the notion that you did the right thing by appointing some professors.

All university committees are pretty much like this

All university committees are pretty much like this

It’s an interesting argument. Should academic members of committees and working groups always be elected, either directly or through a representative structure such as Senate? I’m not convinced. In my experience such representatives are chosen to ensure that they will contribute meaningfully, they have relevant knowledge and expertise and are able to take a wider view. Elections take time and significant effort to organise and do not necessarily deliver any of these things. There really isn’t anything to be said for appointing committees of yes-people who aren’t going to contribute at all. In most cases appointments rather than elections mean that you get the right mix of academics involved. And you are able to bring in new people rather than just the usual suspects or the best known.

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University top targets for graduate employers

Flying high.

The Telegraph reports on the results of the latest High Fliers survey of employers which shows the universities targeted by the largest number of top employers in 2012-13. The top 20 is as follows:

1. Warwick

2. Nottingham

3. Manchester

survey13_GM13_fan

4. Cambridge

5. Bristol

6. Durham

7. Oxford

8. Birmingham

9. Bath

10. Leeds

11. Sheffield

12. Imperial College London

13. Loughborough

14. Edinburgh

15. London School of Economics

16. University College London

17. Southampton

18. Newcastle

19. Strathclyde

20. Exeter

Some interesting results there and good news in particular for Warwick and University of Nottingham graduates.

The High Fliers press release has a few other points of note too including the following:

• The outlook for the current recruitment season has improved and employers are expecting to increase their graduate recruitment by 2.7% in 2013.
• Almost half of employers expect to recruit additional graduates in 2013 and a further third plan to maintain their intake at 2012 levels – employers in eleven out of thirteen key industries and employment areas are expecting to take on more new graduates than in 2012.
• Whilst the total number of graduate vacancies is set to increase in 2013, recruiters expect that more than a third of this year’s entry-level positions will be filled by graduates who have already worked for their organisations – either through internships, industrial placements or vacation work – and therefore are not open to other students from the ‘Class of 2013’.

So perhaps there are grounds for optimism in the graduate employment market.

Yet more support to help UK HE internationalise?

More international support for Higher Education.

A year ago HEGlobal, the new portal for helping universities develop transnational education capability, was launched:

There is a consensus across government that engaging in and promoting international education and skills is strategically important to the UK for three main reasons: firstly it presents potentially significant commercial opportunities; secondly, it is an important soft power tool which supports the UK’s image abroad; thirdly, integrally linked to the above, it is key to maintaining the reputation of the UK education sector as one of the best in the world. However, although the UK’s education and skills sector is already doing well internationally, evidence suggests that we risk not taking full advantage of growing global opportunities. Ministers in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and elsewhere want to improve coordination across government by tasking the UK Higher Education International Unit to lead on a sector-wide initiative to do more to help UK higher education institutions (HEIs) increase their transnational education (TNE) capability.

HEGlobal looked like a real sector/government joint effort, although I must admit to being a little sceptical at the time about the need for it.

One of those pictures with lots of logos on it

Leaving aside the contradiction in policy between supporting this form of internationalisation whilst at the same time imposing visa regulations which hamper international student recruitment to the UK and give the impression that we aren’t open for business, there is something amiss here. The last piece of news on the site seems to date from January 2012 and it rather looks like there hasn’t been anything of interest to update the sector on since then. That’s a bit of a worry in the fast-moving HE environment.

But now, stop press, we have another new support unit for UKHE, this time with UKTI in the driving seat on its own it seems. This new team has been established “to help UK exploit international opportunities in education exports”. Sound familiar?

Education UK will capitalise on the growth in demand for UK education abroad

A new team dedicated to capitalising on the growth of demand for UK education from abroad is being established, Skills Minister Matthew Hancock announced today.

Education UK will specifically target fast-growing markets such as India and the Middle East. The UK has an excellent reputation for education internationally, but isn’t currently exploiting this to the full.

This the approach we need to take with exports

This the approach we need to take with exports – if only we could market HE as successfully as this

So, we have another new unit dedicated to helping UKHE exploit our talents to the full (no information is yet available on the extent of the Princesses’ involvement though). You’d think we weren’t much good at it. You might also be slightly perplexed by the similarity to the British Council’s Education UK campaign which shares the same name and is intended to support international student recruitment (or education exports).

Confused? You will be.

The Imperfect University: what do we know about HE leadership?

What do we know about leadership in higher education?

 

Not a lot, seems to be the answer.

I’ve written a bit before in the Imperfect University series about leadership in universities. There is a new report out which seeks to sum up what we know about leadership in HE.

This report, written by Professor Jacky Lumby  and published by the Leadership Foundation, must have been difficult for the LFHE to come to terms with. I think they deserve credit for publishing it as it does rather suggest that we really haven’t learned an awful lot about leadership in HE despite all the research undertaken by, among others, the Leadership Foundation. It is a fascinating and refreshingly candid read.

F9AA402C809A43E5421B506E76C01028It considers the big questions about leadership in HE:

  • Does the HE context demand a distinctive approach?
  • Who are the leaders in higher education?
  • How do the leaders operate and how effectively?
  • How important is leadership?

And the findings are perhaps somewhat surprising.

Is HE really that different?

So is  leadership in HE really that different from other parts of the education sector or public services or even parts of the commercial world? No. The conclusion here is that HE really might not be as different as is sometimes claimed although nature of academics and their work can create a “distinctive environment.”

Who are the leaders?

Overall, LFHE’s research distinguishes institutional management from leadership, and sees the latter as widely and fluidly dispersed, including, but not limited to, those in formal leadership roles.

There is real dispute about who are the leaders with many of those ostensibly in leadership roles not being regarded as such by those they seek to lead. Moreover, for some the “resistance by determinedly autonomous staff is argued to negate leadership.” This makes the HE institution sound like a playground gang or even worse, a political party.

Leadership to what end?

Leadership-foundationLFHE’s research and the wider literature embodies a yawning divergence in leaders’ espoused values and beliefs about who and what universities are for.

This is an outstanding conclusion. This divergence would suggest that universities could never succeed. But they do, despite all their inherent contradictions (including those of their leaders, whoever they are).

What do leaders do?

It seems that most people report that leaders do things relating to vision:

While there is a frequently reported desire for vision, there is little evidence of
 its practical creation or impact. Summaries of actions other than vision tend to the general and positive, and are in many cases ambiguous. This may be in part a result of self-reported methods and also of generalising across varied roles in different contexts. We know little about the detail of practice.

I just love this. It suggests that this visioning is (as per Rozyscki) no more than ‘happy talk’ and that the research  is unable to conclude whether this is because the vision isn’t good enough or because the whole vision thing is just ritualistic and illusory.

Effectiveness

We seem to be clutching at straws in trying to establish whether there is any evidence for leadership benefiting universities in terms of their core activities:

Evidence of the impact of leadership on the extent and quality of research, learning and enterprise is rather slim.

Moreover, university staff inevitably have contrasting views on what effectiveness means, what its characteristics are and indeed whether individuals can even be described in this way:

What works in one context will not necessarily work 
in another, and equally may be judged as effective
 and ineffective in the same context. As in the wider literature, the research generates lists of characteristics 
of effective leaders that are somewhat idealised and apolitical. Oppositional narratives underpin estimates of effectiveness; a rational narrative stresses data-driven, command and control, while an alternative prizes an open- ended and fluid creation of space in which autonomy can flourish. Effectiveness is currently related to individuals, but might be more usefully applied to units.

Does it matter?

Many clearly believe that leadership matters but the research is not conclusive:

Despite the widespread assertion that leadership is vital, in the absence of convincing evidence of the impact of leadership on higher education’s core activities there is only evidence of the degree to which people believe leadership to be discernible and important or otherwise. The evidence base is unsatisfactory but still suggests that leadership is often, although not always, important.

A reassuring message for HE leaders everywhere.

Conclusion

As if that all weren’t enough to be worrying about the report concludes:

A good deal has been achieved in depicting the richness of players and their approaches to leadership. LFHE’s commissioned research avoids reductive over-simplification and provides certainty that there is no certainty about how to act, no rules about what works. Its research on leadership provides stimulation and material for praxis rather than definitive models. What it offers is a contribution to understanding the ecology of the leadership of higher education, so that actions and interventions may be located within a better knowledge base.

So, to offer a reductive and over-simplified summary, we don’t know much and nothing is certain but there is loads of interesting stuff to think about. A really nice report and well worth a read. All the relevant research (although I was surprised not to see Amanda Goodall’s Socrates in the Boardroom there) is contained in a handy bibliography too.

I love HE.

Beyond the Brian Cox effect

Extravagant claims about one person’s influence on Physics recruitment.

The Telegraph comments on the ‘Brian Cox effect’ and suggests that it has resulted in a surge in demand for physics:

A typical Physics academic

A typical Physics academic

Manchester has always been a popular choice for physics but the university admitted that a recent rise in applications had been partially driven by the attraction of Prof Cox, one of the department’s academics and presenter of television series such as Stargazing Live and Wonders of the Universe.

He currently teaches quantum mechanics and relativity to first year students.

It also reflects the increasing popularity of the subject nationally on the back of publicity surrounding the Large Hadron Collider at Cern.

Across Britain, the number of students taking degrees in physics has soared by 50 per cent in just eight years to reach more than 40,000 in 2011.

 
Of course such an impact does take time – it starts with the GCSE and then A level choices made at school before we even get to the university application stage. So whilst the latest surge in applications to Manchester and for Physics more broadly may well be attributable at least in part to Professor Cox, it is not the whole picture.

Here at the University of Nottingham we have witnessed a similar phenomenon.

Professor Martyn Poliakoff is a leading figure in the Periodic videos project and has arguably had a similar impact on Chemistry. See this recent video, which has been viewed over 2m times, for example:

 

So it’s not just about the Brian Cox effect. It’s also the Martyn Poliakoff phenomenon.

Secrets and Interdisciplinarity in 1928: The Combination Room

A reminder of the opening of the Trent Building

The office recently received a copy of this commemorative brochure from the opening of the Trent Building of what was then University College Nottingham.

IMG_1686

IMG_1687

Front plate

The booklet contains a set of line drawings of the Trent Building together with a detailed and somewhat florid commentary by the then Vice-Principal of the College, Frank Granger.

IMG_1688

The Trent Building

It includes some great descriptions of the intended use of the different parts of the building including some nice words on the wonders of the refectory (which is now the Senate Chamber):

IMG_1691

The Refectory

But my favourite piece is this:

The next plaisaunce to the Refectory is the Women’s Common Room. Then there is the Combination Room, which is a suitable name because the staff will meet there in the leisure moments they spend amid their work. There they will discuss the points of contact of their several disciplines. It is expected that the meetings will sometimes be in secret, and continue the College tradition of secret societies.

I like it partly for its references to leisure time and the sadly discontinued secret societies (although if they were still in existence then I guess I wouldn’t know as they would, of course, be secret) but mainly because of the idea that interdisciplinarity should be encouraged was part of the building design. Combination Room may be a slightly odd title but the principle was a thoroughly sound one and still valid today.

Higher education funding letters: another bundle of joy

On government HE funding letters

The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills has written to HEFCE with the Department’s annual message on funding and helpful bag of instructions.

The letter

sets out Government funding and priorities for HEFCE and for higher education for the second year of the new financial arrangements for higher education in England. The Government’s vision for higher education, outlined in the higher education white paper ‘Students at the heart of the system’, remains, and HEFCE is asked to continue to support learning and teaching activity, quality assurance, widening participation and an enhanced student experience. HEFCE will also continue our support for postgraduate provision.

Super. More instructions.

Not only does it offer even more directions to HEFCE, at 36 paragraphs and eight pages it is the second longest of the four to date issued by the Secretary of State and the Minister and confirms a return to the sterling epistolary efforts made by the previous government.

Last January’s effort really set the standard though – although it contained 35 paragraphs was in fact nine pages long. The December 2010 was somewhat shorter at only 28 paragraphs and can be seen as the BIS duo just getting into their stride.

The earlier post on this topic back in August 2010 noted:

The most recent funding letter of June 24 2010 from Vince Cable and David Willetts to the Chairman of HEFCE is distinctive for three main reasons. First, and unsurprisingly if dispiritingly, it outlines the first major tranche of savings to be made in the 2010-11 financial year. Secondly, it is extremely short – indeed at 10 paragraphs and just over two pages it is the shortest funding letter to the Council in at least 14 years and undercuts all letters under the previous government by some way. Thirdly, it is the first such letter to be signed by both the Secretary of State and the relevant Minister. And thank goodness too or some of us might never have seen this fascinating signature:

Of course those with longer memories will have fond recollections of the briefest of grant letters from the University Grants Committee (UGC) which simply set out the amount of money available for disbursement. Many will long for the golden age of five year funding settlements under the UGC. Whilst it could reasonably be argued that the UGC served as an effective buffer between the state and the universities, the options for the Higher Education Funding Councils, and in particular HEFCE, are much more limited as the directives from government on spending have become ever more detailed and prescriptive. Fortunately though we are able to examine all of the details of these as HEFCE has a nice collection of funding letters going back to 1996.

This decidedly dubious summary of these letters draws on this collection but refers only to English funding allocations. I’m sure the other funding councils receive similar missives from their respective governments but it is beyond my capacity to deal with them I’m afraid.

The length of funding letters has seen two peaks in the last 14 years: January 2003’s letter was 73 paragraphs long and the December 1998 note ran to 66 paragraphs. The November 1999, November 2000 and December 2001 letters ranged from 40 to 46 paragraphs but the January 2004 letter and subsequent missives tend towards the more traditional brevity of only 15-25 paragraphs of instruction to HEFCE.

Just for completeness then here are some of the details about English Higher Education’s most exciting epistles:

  1. The first letter in this series is the last prepared under the previous Conservative government, way back in November 1996. This 41 paragraph note (signed by a Civil Servant) covers: linking funding to assessment of teaching quality, expanding part-time provision, the importance of closer links with employers, not wanting to see longer courses, a planned reduction in student numbers by 2,000 for the following year and keeping the participation rate at around 30%. Some interesting parallels here with the most recent letter from the current government perhaps?
  2. The December 1998 letter is the first New Labour funding letter. At 66 paragraphs it is one of the longest in recent times and the last one to carry the name of a senior Civil Servant rather than the Secretary of State. Topics covered include sector spending, lifelong learning, increasing participation, maintaining quality and standards (a recurring theme down the years), widening access, promoting employability, research investment, capital spend, tuition fee arrangements and Year 2000 issues (we were all worried then).
  3. The November 1999 letter, 43 paragraphs long, provides David Blunkett with the opportunity to wax lyrical on the importance of maintaining quality and standards, increasing participation and employability, widening access, equal opportunities for HE staff, dealing with student complaints, new capital funding, pfi/ppp opportunities, research funding and HE pay.
  4. David Blunkett, in his November 2000 letter, which runs to a sprightly 46 paragraphs, makes some big points on widening participation as a key priority, business links and the e-university.
  5. In November 2001 Estelle Morris provides a neat 40 paragraph letter which gives lots of direction on widening participation, maintaining quality and standards, strengthening research, the importance of links with industry and communities, as well as something on the value of the e-Universities project (remember that?) and, last but not least, social inclusion.
  6. January 2003 represents the high water mark of recent funding letters: in 73 action packed paragraphs Charles Clarke, in his first outing as Secretary of State, is clearly keen to lead the way. The letter covers, among other things, improvement in research, expanded student numbers, foundation degrees, widening participation, improving teaching and learning and increased knowledge transfer. As if that were not enough we also have the establishment of the AHRC, the introduction of a new quality assurance regime but with reduced burdens for institutions (yeah, right), credit systems, FE partnerships, expanded student numbers and new investments in HE workforce development. A real blockbuster of a letter.
  7. The January 2004 message from Charles Clarke comes in at 20 paragraphs in just over 4 pages with reducing bureaucracy, building research and quality and standards and the establishment of Aimhigher as its central features.
  8. December 2004 brings a Christmas treat from everyone’s favourite Santa, Charles Clarke. With just 16 paragraphs and 4 pages of direction Clarke stresses the importance of maintaining the unit of funding for teaching, controlling student numbers and making efficiency gains.
  9. The January 2006 letter, a first and last offering from Ruth Kelly, comes in at a modest 15 paragraphs and 4 pages. No huge surprises in the text with employer-led provision, more widening participation, additional research and capital funding and a strong steer on reducing bureaucracy being the primary features. Additional points to note include equal opportunities for HE staff, efficiency gains, the new conditions which accompany the new tuition fees regime and reference to access agreements. What’s not to like here?
  10. January 2007’s is a punchy 19 paragraphs and merely five pages from Alan Johnson (his one and only letter). Despite the wordiness there isn’t a huge amount in here beyond employer engagement, growing foundation degrees and a lot on widening participation.
  11. January 2008: as with its successor letter this one is 24 paragraphs and 7 pages long (and note the online version on the HEFCE website is erroneously dated 18 Jan 2009). In this funding letter Denham indicates that his priorities are increasing student numbers, developing employer part-funded provision, and widening participation. The letter also refers to encouraging HE to develop stronger links with schools and colleges, greater investment in research, the importance of STEM, a green development fund, closer measuring of performance, and the establishment of the fund-raising match-funding scheme.
  12. January 2009’s letter is 7 pages and 24 paragraphs long and in it John Denham seeks to encourage HE to support the economy through recession, wider engagement with business, promote employer-led provision, innovative ways to support business, promotion of STEM subjects and widening participation and extending fair access. Additionally, there is the confirmation of the ‘university challenge’ with 20 new HE centres to be established, emphasis on the maintenance of quality and standards, plans for continuing to reduce regulation, commitment to dual support as well as the development of REF, steps to tackle climate change and bearing down on over-recruitment by institutions.
  13. The December 2009 letter from Lord Mandelson comes in at 15 paragraphs. This short note follows up on Higher Ambitions (which, in case you had forgotten, “sets out a course for how universities can remain world class, providing the nation with the high level skills needed to remain competitive, while continuing to attract the brightest students and researchers”) and also covers the Economic Challenge Investment Fund, wider and fairer access to HE, increasing the variety of undergraduate provision, new funding incentives to deliver higher level skills, developing REF, new developments in quality assurance including the publication of a standard set of information for students, engaging with communities and penalizing institutions which over-recruit students.
  14. June 2010 sees the first funding letter from the new coalition government: Cable and Willetts give us 10 brief paragraphs covering initial savings, efficiencies and cuts but also 10,000 extra places (but with strings).

So, that’s your lot folks. All you never wanted to know about 14 years of funding letters.

Registrarism

More details on Latin America from the QS rankings

A post from some time ago noted the new found enthusiasm in Latin America for rankings. This has been borne out by the publication in 2011 and now 2012 of a specific Latin american league table by QS.

latin-america
The introduction to the table notes that

QS University Rankings: Latin America was published for the first time in 2011, this generated a huge amount of interest, both within the region and further afield.

This is perhaps unsurprising: Latin America is a hugely dynamic, fast-growing continent, that has recently identified higher education as key to its development, yet in global rankings it has mostly been conspicuous by its absence.

As in 2011, the rankings adopt the principles of the QS World University Rankings, augmented with measures of particular regional application.

Academic and employer reputation surveys remain the backbone of our approach…

View original post 310 more words

The Imperfect University: Truly Transnational

There is something close to a genuinely international university
TIU

Last year Andrew Stewart Coats, commenting on his appointment and the interesting plans for the new partnership between Warwick and Monash Universities, asserted that in higher education:

there has been little or no globalization in how we organize ourselves; no global entity runs viable universities in multiple countries and no truly transnational offering for students and academics exists

He also noted what he described as the “outposts” of universities in China, South East Asia and the Middle East and questioned whether this could “in itself create a truly global university?”

As a member of a global university, with three truly international campuses, I have to disagree. I drafted this piece late last year at the University of Nottingham’s Malaysia Campus (UNMC), home to some 4,500 students and over 450 staff, located at the edge of Kuala Lumpur in a breathtakingly beautiful setting. After meetings with a range of senior staff and bumping into our UK-based Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Internationalisation who was visiting the campus prior to taking over as Provost I then headed off to the University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC) campus (5,000 students, over 400 staff). As anyone who has visited either campus will attest, these are no outposts. Both campuses are larger than a good number of UK HE institutions and are already, despite their relative youth (UNMC became the first overseas campus of any UK university some 12 years ago and UNNC was founded in 2004), they are already punching significantly above their weight in both research and teaching in their host countries.

Campus at University of Nottingham Ningbo China

Campus at University of Nottingham Ningbo China

OBHE, in its most recent report, identifies some 200 or so branch campuses around the world with another 37 at least in the pipeline.

However, very few of these are of the scale, breadth or depth of the Nottingham developments and many are the outposts Coats describes with teaching delivered in rented office accommodation by staff who fly in for a few weeks before flying back home again.

Nottingham actually has three international campuses at present; as well as those in China and Malaysia there is the original campus in the UK which is also strikingly international with over 9,000 international students from 150+ countries. The international ethos is embraced in all that we do and is strongly articulated in the University’s mission:

At the University of Nottingham we are committed to providing a truly international education, inspiring our students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around our campuses in the UK, China and Malaysia. Our purpose is to improve life for individuals and societies worldwide. By bold innovation and excellence in all that we do, we make both knowledge and discoveries matter.

Our academic staff on all campuses are international in composition (25% are international) and outlook too. One in five of our undergraduates undertakes international mobility. 17% of published research outputs are internationally co-authored and 37% of our research funding is obtained internationally. We have strategic partnerships with other leading universities in over 25 countries and one of the largest scholarship programmes for students from the developing world.

University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus


When universities make claims about their global outlook and deep internationalization there is a tendency for the rhetoric significantly to oustrip the reality. Nottingham is, I think, a bit different. The evidence for the range and depth of the internationalization is pretty much everywhere and is now part of the fabric, culture and practice across the University.

Internationalisation both drives and supports our teaching and research mission, provides wider benefits for staff and students as well as facilitating access to a broad international talent pool. Internationalisation at Nottingham has many facets: it means an extraordinarily diverse staff and student body, outstanding campuses, significant staff and student mobility, a distinctive curriculum, unique international research activity (including, for example, field scale tropical crop trials as part of the Crops for the Future initiative which would simply impossible in the UK) and partnerships as well as the new collaborative Knowledge Without Borders Network which seeks to learn from and build upon all of these developments.

Can Nottingham claim to be a genuinely international institution? I think so. At the very least we are, as the Sunday Times observed, “the closest Britain has to a truly global university”. It is not enough simply to have outstandingly successful and growing international campuses or to host visits from the British and Malaysian Prime Ministers or the then Chinese Premier (as happened at UNMC and UNNC respectively last year) it has to permeate the institution from top to bottom. In short, it is all about delivery and Nottingham has delivered and continues to deliver real international higher education. This is the experience at our global institution. It’s not perfect and there is still a long way to go to develop fully the potential of all three of our international campuses in Malaysia, China and the UK but I think it is real, meaningful, deep and sustained internationalisation. I wish Warwick and Monash well in their collaboration; I am sure we would be delighted to welcome Professor Coats to any of our campuses to see our truly transnational offering and experience a real global University.

Sustainability charts: UI GreenMetric World University Ranking 2012

Now out : the Green Metric World Ranking 2012

This world university league table first appeared in 2010 and was headed by University of California, Berkeley. Last year the University of Nottingham led the field (sadly down to second this year). In 2012 it is the turn of Connecticut. The rest of the top 10 is as follows (last year’s position in brackets):

1 University of Connecticut, US (3)

2 University of Nottingham, UK (1)

3 University College Cork, Ireland (4)

4 Northeastern University, US (2)

5 University of Plymouth, UK (-)

6 Universite de Sherbrooke Canada

7 University of California, Los Angeles, US (7)

8 University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill US

9 University of Bath, UK (10)

10 University of California Merced, US (9)

UI
The details of the table can be found at UI GreenMetric site. The aim of the ranking is, at least in part, to promote sustainability in universities:

The aim of this ranking is to provide the result of online survey regarding the current condition and policies related to Green Campus and Sustainability in the Universities all over the world. It is expected that by drawing the attention of university leaders and stake holders, more attention will be given to combating global climate change, energy and water conservation, waste recycling, and green transportation. Such activities will require change of behavior and providing more attention to sustainability of the environment, as well as economic and social problem related to the sustainability. We believe that the universities that are leading the way in this regard need to be identifiable and so we have decided to make a start in doing this. Initially, we will collect numeric data from thousands of universities world wide and process the data provided to arrive at a single score that reflects the efforts being made by the institution to implement environmentally friendly and sustainable policies and programs. Universities will be ranked according to this score. We hope that the rankings will be useful to university leaders in their efforts to put in place eco-friendly policies and manage behavioral change among the academic community at their respective institutions.

The methodology, criteria and scoring can be found here but in summary the approach is as follows:

We selected criteria that are generally thought to be of importance by universities concerned with sustainability. These include the collection of a basic profile of the size of the university and its zoning profile, whether urban, suburban, rural. Beyond this we want to see the degree of green space. The next category of information concerns electricity consumption because of its link to our carbon footprint. Then we want to know about transport, water usage, waste management and so on. Beyond these indicators, we want to get a picture about how the university is responding to or dealing with the issue of sustainability through policies, actions, and communication.

Overall a good result for Nottingham (and for Plymouth in 5th and Bath in 9th place). The number of institutions participating this year has increased significantly and it does rather look as if this league table is gaining a foothold.

Where are the statues of great academics?

There really aren’t a lot of them about

Perhaps it’s because so many are involved in committees and are therefore disqualified by G K Chesterton’s comment: “I’ve searched all the parks in all the cities and found no statues of committees”.

But really there aren’t huge numbers – I can recall statues of Newton and Darwin and there is one of Alan Turing I think but not someone like Professor Herman Pálsson, a wonderful Icelandic scholar who taught at the University of Edinburgh for nearly 40 years (to pick one of my favourite tutors at random).

The position is a bit different in China as this picture shows:

Professors-Yang-and-Greenaway-2012

This is a picture of our Vice-Chancellor with a statue of our Chancellor Emeritus, Professor Yang Fujia, a notable Physicist and former President of Fudan University as well as member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Look more closely at the picture though and you will notice that there are more statues behind them. In fact there are 94 in this particular park, all leading academics originally from Ningbo (also home of the University of Nottingham Ningbo China). This is just extraordinary. The idea of a city having one or two statues of academics would be surprising but a whole park full of them? You just could not envisage it happening in the UK. At least not right now. But why not?

Perhaps part of valuing universities “for their intrinsic, as well as economic, worth” (Page 17, Coalition Mid-Term Review, 7 January 2013) should be about reminding everyone just how great academics at UK universities are (wherever in the world they are from). So come on BIS, why not commission a few statues.

Branch campus enrolments – some interesting UK data

Some interesting stats from the UK Higher Education International Unit

The International Unit recently published its summary of International higher education in facts and figures – Winter 2012-13. The report contains some interesting information which covers the majority of the UK higher education sector. One particular table (on page 9 of the report) caught my eye, the number of UK students involved in different forms of trans-national education (TNE):

TNE

(Note that the data covers the 2010-11 session.)

Three particular points of interest in here:

  • Students registered at Oxford Brookes University accounted for 47.6% of the total population of the 2010-11 Aggregate Offshore record. The majority of these students were registered with an overseas partner on Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) programmes.
  • In 2010-11 the University of Nottingham returned 7,797 students at its two overseas campuses, the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus and University of Nottingham Ningbo China, so nearly two thirds of the total number of students in this category are from Nottingham.
  • The number and proportion of students following distance learning courses can only grow.

It’s historical data but no doubt the next set of figures will show growth across all of these categories.

These charming men. And women.

Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before.

A couple of years ago I noted a report on the teaching of “life skills” to students preparing to leave home for university and having to look after themselves for the first time. Now there is a report on how universities are stepping in to fill students’ social-skills gaps ready for the world of work after graduation. The basics of everyday working life seem to be on offer:

After final exams are over, MIT students will return from their holiday break to experience something different from their usual studies—but almost as important.

It’s the university’s annual Charm School, offering instruction in everything from how to make a first impression to how to dress for work to which bread plate to use.

“And we call these ‘buttons’…”

Other colleges have started teaching students how to make small talk, deal with conflict, show up on time, follow business etiquette, and communicate with co-workers.

These programs may be fun, or even funny, but there’s a deadly serious purpose to them: to give students the kinds of social skills they need to get and keep a job.

All highly necessary I am sure but I suspect it is rare to be faced with a choice of bread plates in most social situations these days.

It does seem a bit surprising that this kind of activity is required but it is clearly widespread:

York teaches a workshop for sophomores called Mastering the Art of Small; Talk two majors, education and sports management, require their students to take it. It also offers a seminar in taking criticism.

“This generation talks better with their thumbs than face to face,” Randall says.

And it’s not just communicating that appears to challenge this latest group of college students. It’s mingling, networking, handling conflict, eating—even dressing.

MIT students participate in Charm School, a series of short classes designed to teach everything from how to network with alumni to tying a bowtie.

“Students don’t really know what’s meant by professional dress, whether it’s a young lady wearing a skirt that’s way too short or a young man whose pants aren’t really tailored,” says MIT’s Hamlett. “Most students just roll out of bed in whatever it is they want to wear. There’s this ‘come as you are’ about being a college student.”

This ‘come as you are approach’ is not confined to the US. Here at the University of Nottingham the Careers and Advisory Service also runs an annual fashion show highlighting the importance of a professional appearance in the workplace.

What difference does it make? We’ll see.