A Different Kind of Ranking

The new U21 systems ranking.

Following on from last year’s first iteration, U21 has now published its 2013 Rankings report, which is intended to give an overview and ranking of higher education systems across the world. The full report gives much more information about the rankings but in summary:

The project aims to highlight the importance of creating a strong environment for higher education institutions to contribute to economic and cultural development, provide a high-quality experience for students and help institutions compete for overseas applicants.

962013 thumbnail

The 2013 Rankings report retains the methodology of the 2012 Rankings. 22 desirable attributes are grouped under four broad headings: Resources, Environment, Connectivity and Output.

The country coverage has been extended to 50 by the inclusion of Saudi Arabia and Serbia. Data quality has improved significantly since 2012, in some cases occasioned by publicity arising from the inaugural Rankings – thus meeting the hope we expressed a year ago.

The top 20 is as follows. As you would expect it is fairly stable with little change since 2012:

1 United States 100.0
2 Sweden 85.2
3 Switzerland 81.6
4 Canada 80.0
5 Denmark 79.8
6 Finland 79.4
7 Netherlands 78.2
8 Australia 77.2
9 Singapore 76.6
10 United Kingdom 74.9
11 Austria 71.8
11 Norway 71.8
13 Belgium 71.0
14 New Zealand 69.7
15 Germany 68.2
16 Hong Kong SAR 67.6
16 France 67.6
18 Ireland 66.8
19 Israel 63.8
20 Spain 60.5

The top 10 countries are the same as in the 2012 Rankings except that Singapore replaces Norway which falls to 12th. The largest changes further down the table largely reflect the acquisition of better data: Malaysia rising from 36th to 27th and Ukraine falling from 25th to 36th.

It remains a distinctive and interesting approach to ranking.

Inspiring Leadership

A Decade of Leadership from the Leadership Foundation.

A new HEPI report is out. Inspiring Leadership – Personal Reflections on Leadership in Higher Education is written by Ewart Wooldridge who recently stood down as Chief Executive of the Leadership Foundation after 10 years at the helm. As he says in the introduction things have changed a bit over this time:

Over those ten years, the pressures on university leaders have grown hugely. Higher Education has shifted from being collaborative to competitive and market driven, from a sector to a looser system, from national to transnational, and from certain to uncertain. Today, the key requirements of university leadership seem to be agility, distinctiveness and the capacity to spot the right kind of alliance to build resilience in the face of competition and uncertainty. But also the ability to manage the paradox of operating in a market whilst still upholding the traditional values of the sector.

It’s a nice piece and a succinct reflection on the demands of university leadership. Wooldridge argues that we need leaders who:Ewart-Wooldridge-web

  • understand how to make ‘tight/loose’ work in balancing the academic and business domains
  • can discover the ‘game changing’ generative domain and make it happen, and
  • can build the kind of ‘guiding coalitions’ that really embed the changes behaviourally.

My only real disappointment is that, unlike many other LFHE publications, I struggled to find points to disagree with in the report. So I won’t look to find ways to pick an argument but rather reproduce the author’s final comments:

Higher Education has been a wonderful world to have worked in with some of the most inspiring examples of leadership, but there are still plenty of challenges, of which I would highlight just three:

    • There is still a residuum of the ‘heroic’ leadership culture that the LFHE research on top leadership uncovered. The more engaging and inclusive style which we have seen develop seems critical for the new era of HE
    • We need to challenge the sector on the diversity of its leadership and governance bodies so that they reflect much more the gender and ethnicity of the communities they serve
    • We need to do more development work inside Celia Whitchurch’s collaborative “third space” between academic and professional cultures which is rich in possibilities.

I look forward to more of this in the future.

True Crime on Campus §29: Bins and Quidditch

More unlikely but true crime on campus

There can be some testing incidents on campus sometimes. However, our excellent Security staff are usually up for any kind of challenge – no matter how strange:

2020 Report of a damaged window Hugh Stewart Hall Security attended. The damage had been caused by Students climbing out of a window the Hall Warden and Manager to be informed.

0540 Request to unlock Cavendish Hall for Staff as the person responsible for this had misplaced their car keys and would be late arriving to unlock. Security attended and provided access to Staff.

19:00 Security reported a group of youths on BMX bicycles between the Geospatial building and the Energy Technology building at Jubilee Campus. The youths were asked to leave and they complied. It was also reported that two wooden platforms were in position which appeared to be for use of bicycle tricks. The wooden platforms were overturned by Security to prevent them from being used for this.

11:00 Security accompanied a member of staff to a room at Nottingham Medical School to retrieve his confidential paperwork. The paperwork was found in the place that he had left it and the room was secured.

1145 Patrol Security Officers observed a cloud of red smoke outside the Portland Building. Officers went to investigate and watched as a cash in transit Guard ran up out of the building to his vehicle with a cash box with red smoke coming from it. Security Officers spoke to Staff in the area and were informed that the Guard had been collecting money from the Building when the box had activated causing the Guard to run from the Building.

1550 Patrol Security Officers observed a bin on fire outside the Humanities Building. The cause of the fire was due to a disposable BBQ being put in the bin while still burning. Officers put the fire out – Estates Help Desk to be informed.

Picture fire

1525 Report of a cigarette bin on fire outside Si Yuan Building. Security attended and put the fire out.

0645 Report of male acting suspiciously on Jubilee Avenue. Security attended.

0945 Report of a Dog running loose on Beeston Lane. Security attended.

1200 Report of a male hiding in bushes. Security attended and spoke to the male. As he had no connection to the University and had been drinking he was told to leave the Campus.

1425 Report of an HGV broken down on the roundabout outside of West Entrance. Police on scene. Security attended to assist with traffic control coming onto Campus.

1830 Report of brown water coming out of the taps at College Road. Security contacted Severn Trent who advised the Tenant to run the taps for 20 minutes after which the water became clear.

1332 Report of a dog running loose on the grassed area adjacent to DHL. Security attended and an Officer caught the dog but the Council were unable to collect the Dog until Monday. The Officer who caught the Dog decided to take the animal home until it could be collected by the Council.

Very dangerous indeed

Very dangerous indeed

1225 Report of a person with a suspected broken ankle on the Downs. Security attended. While dealing with the injured person another person fell injuring their ankle. Both Students were taken to Hospital by Ambulance. Both Students were injured while playing Quidditch.

Monster study tips

From Monsters U, where else?

I’ve blogged before about the eagerly anticipated HE movie of the year, Monsters U. Greatly amused therefore by the invitation from a PR to our Comms team to post promotional posters for Monsters U on the University’s Facebook page in the guise of study tips. Nice try.

Anyway, I’m immune to all this so here is one of the tips:

Monsters University FB Posters 1.jpg

Invaluable advice.

UK HE in China

QAA Review of Transnational Education in China.

Back in 2012 the QAA surveyed all UK higher education institutions in order to find out details of their TNE activity in China. The QAA review includes detailed reports on 10 UK universities and divides HEIs’ TNE activity into a number of different types. For the purposes of the survey, TNE was divided into the following categories:

• A: branch campus
• B: partnership
• C: distance learning through flexible and distributed learning (FDL).

Category B (partnership) was further sub-divided into:
• B1 – students in China follow a programme leading to an award from the UK institution, sometimes completing the whole programme in China, but sometimes transferring to the UK to complete parts of the programme
• B2 – students start by following a programme offered by the partner, but later transfer (under an articulation agreement) to a programme at the UK institution, but with an entitlement to advanced standing on academic grounds.
Thus, under B1 students do not change their programme, although they may change their location of study, whereas under B2 students change both their programme and their location of study.

Category C (FDL) was divided into:
• C1 – students follow a programme of the UK institution without the assistance of any support centre in China
• C2 – students follow a programme of the UK institution with the assistance of a support centre in China that is approved by the UK institution.

Campus at University of Nottingham Ningbo China

Campus at University of Nottingham Ningbo China

The report reveals that UK universities are extremely active in China:

The survey found 70 UK institutions with provision in China falling into one or more of the above categories. Collectively, these institutions reported 275 distinct relationships with 186 separate Chinese institutions. The total number of students studying in China through UK TNE was recorded by the survey as 33,874. In addition, there were 5,392 students studying in the UK, having transferred from a partner institution in China. Of the many different programmes being offered through UK TNE in China, 42 per cent are in the Business and Finance subject areas, and 19 per cent in Engineering. The survey found most of the TNE to be located geographically in the major urban centres of China’s eastern seaboard: Beijing, Shanghai, Ningbo (Zhejiang province),

The number of these institutions reporting TNE in each category is shown below.

table TNE

The University of Nottingham’s presence in China is the only one here identified as a branch campus (although the number of students here is rather out of date, it’s now over 5,600). The full report on the University of Nottingham Ningbo China can be found here and is highly complimentary both about the development itself – “an impressive achievement” – and the quality of the student experience.

Overall though there is a huge amount of activity by UK institutions and it comes in a wide variety of forms. Much of interest therefore in the QAA’s review.

Crime Data in the USA

University fined for misreporting crime data.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a piece about the University of Texas at Arlington being fined for improperly classifying and reporting a number of crimes which took place on its campus:

For misclassifying crimes and underreporting disciplinary actions, the U.S. Department of Education has fined the University of Texas at Arlington $82,500, a penalty the institution is appealing.

The department imposed the fine last month under the federal campus-crime reporting law known as the Clery Act, each violation of which can cost an institution $27,500. According to a review by the department in 2011, the Arlington campus had improperly classified a forcible sex offense as an assault and an aggravated assault as an assault of a family member. Both crimes occurred in 2008.


Also that year, the department found, the university excluded 27 liquor, drug, and weapons violations—classified as “disciplinary actions”—from crime statistics that by law must be submitted to federal officials and distributed publicly each year. On that count, the department imposed a third $27,500 fine.

Similar fines have just been levied against Yale:

Yale failed to report a total of four forcible sex offenses in its campus crime statistics for 2001 and 2002, according to an April 19 letter from Mary E. Gust, director of administrative actions and appeals service group at the DOE. As a result, the department is fining the university $27,500 for each offense, the letter said. The Connecticut Ivy League university also received a $27,500 fine for failing to include seven required policy statements in its annual crime reports, and another $27,500 for not including crime statistics from Yale-New Haven Hospital in its annual campus crime data.

It always surprises me that there is such a strict federal requirement on crime reporting at US universities. Given the potentially negative consequences though it is perhaps hardly surprising that there are occasional errors in classification. And the crimes on US campuses do tend to be significantly worse than those here, especially given the availability of guns at some institutions (as noted in this previous post).

How long before HESA start collecting this data in the UK?

Eight minutes to choose a degree course

A report on the use made of Unistats

HEFCE has published an evaluation of the Unistats website after its first period of operation. It suggests that the huge demands made of institutions in providing the necessary data have paid off as Unistats has already become “one of the most widely used higher education course comparison websites”.

unistats latin

Since its launch in September 2012, the Unistats web-site has received over 3.8 million page views and over 175,000 unique visitors – an average of 984 new visitors per day. The site is used extensively by prospective higher education students, their parents, careers advisers, teachers and higher education staff.

The research, commissioned by the Higher Education Funding Councils, looks at the site’s position in the market and how it is perceived and used, as well as issues such as navigation, search, filter and comparison functions, and data presentation. A separate report by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) focuses on the experiences and views of higher education institutions.

Key findings include:

The average length of visit to the site is over eight minutes (a long time compared with use of other web-sites).

Many users regarded the independent and authoritative nature of the site as one of its key strengths.

Prospective students, current students and parents were more positive about the site than careers advisers, teachers and higher education staff, and more likely to describe the site as ’useful’ and ‘easy to get around’.

All very gratifying for Unistats fans. But as an earlier post noted there really is no shortage of information on HE opportunities. The most worrying element of this report though is the eight minute visit. Whilst this is undoubtedly a comparatively long time for a website visit it really is a frighteningly short time to spend looking at possible course choices.

Is London the new UAE?

More branch campuses opening in the city

But most of them belong to UK universities, not overseas institutions. According to last year’s OBHE report there are six international branch campuses in London (four from US universities and one each from Malaysia and Iran). There are many more offices and outposts too. However, the growth seems to be coming from UK institutions opening offshoots to offer courses, primarily professional and postgraduate, in the major market of the metropolis.

The latest arrival, according to Universities News, the University of Liverpool:


Liverpool University will open a campus in London for students attracted by studying in the capital.

It is the first of Britain’s leading universities to open a campus in London and may prompt other institutions to follow suit.

Many Liverpool undergraduates want to continue studying for master’s degrees but want to do so in London. Opening a campus in the capital is a way to “keep them in the family” according to Professor Sir Howard Newby, vice-chancellor of Liverpool.

The university has leased a former bank building on the edge of the City of London and about 150 students will enrol on the first courses there in September.

At full capacity the campus will hold up to 1,500 students, mostly postgraduates studying courses such as business and law. Many of them are expected to be mid-career professionals who need a master’s degree to progress in their field.

But Liverpool are far from first to open a London branch. Coventry, Sunderland, GCU, Glyndwr, Ulster, Anglia Ruskin, Bangor and Cumbria universities all have outposts in the capital.

So there is some way to go before London catches up with UAE’s 37 branch campuses but it is still an interesting trend.

Another dumb ranking

The universities which will make you a millionaire!

Mail Online publishes this insightful piece on the “graduate rich list” which shows you “where to study to make your millions”:

Million pound note

It’s not a real note

A new graduate ‘rich list’ has revealed the universities where students are most likely to become multi-millionaires.

Oxford comes top after producing 401 alumni worth £20million or more, and Cambridge is in second place with 361 – but Cambridge has the most billionaires.

The average super-rich graduate from Cambridge has a fortune of £169million, more than twice as much as Oxford’s ultra-wealthy ex-students.

The full list with some tasty examples is as follows:

1) Oxford – 401 super-rich graduates worth an average £83m each – alumni include Monty Python comedian Michael Palin

2) Cambridge – 361, £169m – including Borat actor Sacha Baron Cohen

3) LSE – 273, £84m – including Rolling Stones singer Sir Mick Jagger

4) Imperial – 127, £67m – including Queen guitarist Brian May

5) London Business School – 106, £99m – including Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry

6) Manchester – 102, £22m – including former Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy

7) UCL – 99, £29m – including comic and actor Ricky Gervais

8) Nottingham – 92, £22m – including head of MI5 Sir John Sawers

9) Edinburgh – 80, £52m – including Olympic cyclist Sir Chris Hoy

10) Birmingham – 68, £69m – including Manchester United CEO David Gill

Well, it’s one way to help with that UCAS application.

Exam stress? Head for the puppy room

It’s furry therapy apparently.

yep. a puppy room

Indeed. A puppy room

Last year we heard that Dalhousie University in Canada had provided a puppy room to help students deal with exam stress. Now it seems that another university has joined in and, according to the Huffington Post, Aberdeen Students are also getting a puppy room to help them relax during revision:

Stressed out students at Aberdeen University in Scotland are going to be given a special room on campus to calm down with puppies during the exam period.

Aberdeen University’s Exam Welfare Initiative is teaming up with Guide Dogs For The Blind Association to offer the furry therapy after receiving positive feedback from students.

Emma Carlen, Aberdeen University’s president of societies and student activities, said in a statement: “We got a really positive reaction to that from both the guide dogs and the students, it really chilled them out, so that encouraged us to get this set up for the exam period.”

They are setting up a rooms on campus between the 13th and 23rd May. The university is also offering smoothie and apple give aways to calm stressed out students as well as onsite-massage at the library, yoga taster sessions a health walk on the beach.

Last October, researchers at Hiroshima University in Japan found that photos of kittens, puppies and the like don’t just make people feel better – they also help them to concentrate.

Don’t know what it will do for NSS scores but wouldn’t be surprised if this turns out to be an entry in this year’s Times Higher Education awards.

A not entirely new university ranking

A rather citation heavy ranking from URAP (NB not UKIP).

Apologies for the lateness of this but for some reason I failed to notice this league table which was published last autumn. The University Ranking by Academic Performance website has all the details but the background is as follows:

University Ranking by Academic Performance (URAP) Research Laboratory was established at Informatics Institute of Middle East Technical University in 2009. Main objective of URAP is to develop a ranking system for the world universities based on academic performances which determined by quality and quantity of scholarly publications. In line with this objective yearly World Ranking of 2000 Higher Education Institutions have been released since 2010.

And the methodology:

URAP ranking system is completely based on objective data obtained from reliable open sources. The system ranks the universities according to multiple criteria. Most of the currently available ranking systems are both size and subject dependent. The URAP research team is currently working on a new methodology which will minimize the impact of size and subject dependency.

The goal of the URAP ranking system is not to label world universities as best or worst. Our intention is to help universities identify potential areas of progress with respect to specific academic performance indicators. Similar to other ranking systems, the URAP system is neither exhaustive nor definitive, and is open to new ideas and improvements. The current ranking system will be continuously upgraded based on our ongoing research and the constructive feedback of our colleagues.

Whilst they don’t want to label universities as best or worst this is a rather inevitable by-product of a ranking I fear. Still, on the positive side, they have sent us a lovely certificate (dated last year but only arrived in my office this week):

A certificate! for the whole University!

A certificate! for the whole University!

I’m sure other rankings will be following suit.

Anyway, here is the list of the top 20 UK universities from URAP:

Country Ranking University Name World Ranking Category Article Citation Total Document JIT JCIT Collaboration Total
1 University of Oxford 7 A++ 91.74 92.72 43.25 73.26 65.72 78.75 445.43
2 University of Cambridge 11 A++ 90.07 91.16 42.34 71.63 65.68 75.32 436.20
3 Imperial College 14 A++ 87.11 87.38 41.91 69.80 60.16 73.23 419.58
4 University College London 18 A++ 85.47 85.05 41.61 69.38 58.96 70.59 411.07
5 University of Manchester 38 A++ 81.52 79.31 39.67 64.23 54.54 65.21 384.47
6 University of Edinburgh 49 A++ 77.64 77.27 37.39 63.42 54.84 65.05 375.62
7 Kings College London 69 A++ 76.74 75.82 37.76 62.70 53.24 58.89 365.15
8 University of Bristol 85 A++ 74.71 74.33 36.00 61.36 51.53 59.04 356.98
9 University of Glasgow 102 A++ 72.45 72.79 35.24 60.31 51.04 59.07 350.89
10 University of Birmingham 108 A+ 73.37 71.68 35.78 60.18 49.75 56.81 347.56
11 University of Nottingham 110 A+ 74.25 71.61 35.79 59.64 49.43 56.31 347.03
12 University of Sheffield 115 A+ 73.53 71.74 35.45 59.59 49.75 55.92 345.96
13 University of Leeds 123 A+ 73.56 71.29 35.28 59.23 49.46 56.25 345.08
14 University of Southampton 128 A+ 73.58 70.73 35.06 59.11 49.06 56.65 344.18
15 University of Liverpool 145 A+ 71.64 69.98 34.50 58.98 48.98 55.95 340.03
16 Cardiff University 152 A+ 70.89 69.54 33.86 58.35 49.22 56.25 338.11
17 University of Newcastle upon Tyne 161 A+ 70.08 70.26 33.94 58.83 49.55 53.95 336.61
18 University of Warwick 212 A+ 70.09 67.90 33.24 57.21 47.74 52.63 328.82
19 University of Leicester 231 A+ 68.26 68.30 32.61 57.40 48.89 51.25 326.70
20 University of Aberdeen 234 A+ 68.00 67.76 32.73 56.79 47.42 53.36 326.05

The Imperfect University: The End of Internationalisation?

Is it the end for internationalization?

No. It’s not a bubble. It’s not bursting.

A recent Chronicle blog suggested that, in common with some other higher education activities, internationalization was a bubble and about to burst. It isn’t. International student recruitment patterns continue to evolve, some branch campuses are less successful than others and the global economic downturn is having an impact on everyone. This doesn’t mean international higher education is finished.

Unfortunately though it does seem that with all of the hype around MOOCs and the talk of the havoc that this disruptive innovation will wreak on higher education it is beginning to feel that internationalization is last year’s topic for university leaders. Leaving aside the fact that online learning, in whatever form, can largely be offered freely across national borders, the key issue here is the challenge presented by MOOCs to the traditional campus experience, especially when it is on an offshore campus.

The argument goes that if students can access university courses wherever they are why would they need to travel to a campus overseas (or a branch campus in their own country) to do so. At a stroke therefore transnational education and student mobility are eliminated and branch campuses, of which there are now in excess of 200 with at least another 37 on the way (according to the latest OBHE survey from January 2012), will inevitably wither and die.

First, I really don’t think all the MOOC hype sounds the death knell for internationalization of higher education. It remains a huge and growing market across the world with over 3.5m (in 2009) of the world’s higher education students studying in countries other than their own and growth rates in tertiary education and student mobility only expected to slow a little over the next period (according to the British Council’s Shape of Things to Come report).

Second, the campus offer remains a hugely attractive one. Whether it is a UK, US or Australian university or the Chinese, Malaysian or UAE campus of a western institution, the nature of the experience, the quality of delivery and the employment prospects offered by successful completion of a degree all still look like a pretty good option, wherever you are in the world.

University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

Third, in terms of promoting the home institution overseas, whilst a couple of snappy MOOCs might look like they have some decent enrolments, there really isn’t a substitute for a substantive in-country presence for raising profile.

Fourth, when western governments start getting sniffy about visas then the branch campus option nearer home (which is usually cheaper too) looks increasingly like a sensible option.

Fifth, universities are, of course, about much more than just content delivery. Developing a comprehensive branch campus offer doesn’t just mean offering courses, it’s also about engaging with students in a different cultural context, establishing new research and knowledge transfer activity (including bilateral investment opportunities) and playing an active part in a community in another country.

Sixth, as the OBHE report shows, branch campus numbers continue to grow as universities realize the long term benefits of establishing a physical presence overseas. And whilst NYU seems to have run into some difficulties at home in persuading its faculty of the merits of its international ambitions, more and more universities are following its lead and that of Nottingham in building overseas campuses.

Seventh, and this is the key reason that internationalisation will not disappear, it is an intrinsic part of higher education and it is fundamentally a long game. You don’t build a branch campus overnight and it is a huge long term commitment. Not quite the same as a 10 hour MOOC. Demonstrating commitment to a branch campus is hugely important to show that the university is there for the long term and not merely pursuing temporary opportunistic goals. This kind of genuine internationalization is serious, inevitably risky and extremely challenging. But it’s worth it.

Not over yet

Not over yet

So has disruptive innovation displaced internationalization? Will MOOCs kill branch campuses? No. Undoubtedly the challenges in maintaining the quality of campus delivery and the need to blend online and face-to-face will become more sharply focused but the future of higher education remains most firmly international.

The narrative around disruptive innovation is very short termist, its evangelists preach the language of overnight revolution, of avalanches and tsunami. Seductive as this hype might be from those who think that the physical campus is sure to die, they are profoundly mistaken. There will remain a fundamental place for the campus in the high quality higher education experience for many years to come. Steady long term pursuit of international development remains sound strategy. Investment, partnership, relationship building, putting down roots, long term commitment, shared learning, indeed all of the things that run counter to the disruptive innovation discourse, are at the heart of internationalization.

Internationalisation of higher education may have been displaced by MOOCs in the headlines but it is still very much at the heart of strategy of leading universities. It is therefore perhaps a bit early to be writing off internationalization of HE and branch campus developments.