Eau de HE: the Smell of Success

A new range of fundraising fragrances from Notre Dame.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has this entertaining piece about the very serious business of making money from smells:

The University of Notre Dame has long been known for its enthusiastic sports fans. Now, the South Bend Tribune reports, all of those rabid supporters will be able to show their commitment in a new way—with perfume and cologne. But don’t worry: They won’t get the chance to smell like Manti Te’o on game day.

The fragrances will be available in his and hers versions, to be called ND Gold Eau de Toilette and Lady Irish Eau de Parfum. Fighting Irish fans will be able to purchase official scents from the university starting this fall.

Notre Dame will be joining several other universities, including the University of North Carolina and Pennsylvania State University, in selling official fragrances. Notre Dame’s scents will be produced by Steiner Collectibles and the Cloudbreak Group, which has some experience in using smells to entice sports fans, having previously produced fragrances for the New York Yankees.

Ideas for a UK equivalent #HEperfume have included:

  • Tweed (for older academics)
  • Pedagogy
  • Corduroy (for academics who don’t have to try too hard)
  • Stacks (for that traditional librarian scent) or, better still, Smell of Books
  • Selectivity (for that post-REF feeling).

(with thanks to @jpdale  @wynmorgan8 and @AlisonMcnab for those excellent pitches)

So, what would your university’s fragrances be? Will the mission groups pitch in? Will BIS seek to control the market? Does anyone else think that Notre Dame’s nickname is just a bit inappropriate? Who is Manti Te’o?

#HEperfume – for all your academic odours.

Measuring Collegiality

Can you test for academics’ collegiality?

And would you want to?

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a piece on the launch of a new test to help determine academics’ collegiality or,as they put it, whether a faculty member is “a bully or a jerk or an all-around pain in the neck.”

Two higher-education consultants believe they have an instrument that does just that. They call it the Collegiality Assessment Matrix, and they are promoting it to colleges as a tool for both professional development and faculty evaluations.


“I’m more collegial than you lot”

The two consultants, Jeffrey L. Buller, dean of the honors college at Florida Atlantic University, and Robert E. Cipriano, a professor emeritus of recreation and leisure studies at Southern Connecticut State University, say the test offers something colleges have long needed: a reliable means of identifying good and bad behavior in the academic workplace.

The instrument is objective enough, they say, to enable colleges to weigh collegiality as a distinct criterion in making decisions related to faculty members’ reappointment, promotion, or tenure. By using it, the consultants say, colleges can confront faculty members over actions that vex their colleagues and either coach them on how to behave better or, if necessary, show them the door.

It’s not clear to me why you would want to do this or why such a test would substitute for simple awareness of behaviour and sensible day-to-day management. Really can’t see it catching on.

Rate your administrator

Rate this, rate that, rate everything

Following the outstanding success of Rate Your Lecturer, which has been overwhelmingly endorsed by right-thinking academics everywhere, it’s time to broaden the assessment. Due to extraordinary demand therefore we are now launching Rate Your Administrator.


RYA is the site that finally gives users of a range of administrative services and processes a say. RYA is essentially a giant thing with words written on it – so instead of hoping a friend knows how good an administrator is you can visit this site and see reviews put up by other admin fans whilst adding your own. This is the only way to improve administration in the UK whilst holding your administrators to account. Please do take a couple of minutes to add your thoughts on the hot administrative topics that really matter to you.

The starting point for the site is the administrator ratings kindly provided by you, the user of administrative services. Each administrator is rated out of ten on each of the following criteria:

  • core administrative ability
  • nice smile
  • out of hours email response time
  • dress sense
  • patience
  • grammatical skills
  • resilience in the face of adversity
  • tendency to obfuscate.

Once this has been done the administrator is attached to the admin activity that they are being rated for. This is the most important part for the discerning admin user and it is the area which can help to revolutionise universities in this country. Be it minute-writing, HR, planning or just any kind of admin-related activity then you get the chance to see who is best at what.

Crucially, the admin activities page will enable prospective admin users picking their universities to compare administrators on their administrative ability, something that has never been possible before.

The site has received almost unanimous support from both people who have discovered it. So come on – rate your administrator now!

Next up – Rate your parking place.

Another international prize

A good night at the THELMAs


Terrific result for the University of Nottingham’s Asia Business Centre at last night’s THE Leadership and Management Awards (the THELMAs). Although we were less fortunate in two other categories this was a great achievement for the ABC team. In the citation it was noted that Nottingham’s entry was outstanding and

had built on its trusted international reputation and established presence in Asia to create a knowledge exchange strategy that is…creating vital links between the university and business in the UK and Asia.

A really good night then. And congratulations to the other winners too.

School of Rock

New foundation degree in heavy metal makes some noise.

The Nottingham Post reports on a new degree in heavy metal launched at New College Nottingham:

Performance, recording and promotion will also feature heavily, with students having career options with recording companies, teaching and performance.

MV5BMjEwOTMzNjYzMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjczMTQyMQ@@._V1_SX214_“You can study music at Oxford, Cambridge and in cities all over the UK, but here in Nottingham we wanted to offer something special,” said course lecturer Liam Maloy.

“Nottingham’s music industry is becoming stronger each year. Our students aspire to work in metal music marketing, at festivals and as promoters – this course will make that happen for them.”

More than 20 students have already signed up for the course, which launches in September.

In terms of curriculum it seems that there will be a strong focus on the heavy metal canon including Iron Maiden, Metallica and Black Sabbath. Heavy.

Strange degrees have been the focus of a previous post with another summarising the position in the provision of bonkers degrees. Earlier items covered similar ground including a zombie course at the University of Baltimore and a course covering Lady Gaga together with a study of Beyonce. Also we previously looked here at the launch of an MA in Beatles Studies and the offer of a degree in Northern Studies as well as offering a podcast on “bonkers or niche” degrees and an MA in horror and transgression at Derby.

Just confirms there is a course in almost every subject you care to mention.

£5m for Students’ Green Fund

Big funding for student-led green initiatives.

HEFCE recently announced the launch of the ‘Students’ Green Fund’ which is intended to help students work with their institutions on sustainable development:

NUS will run a single-round bidding competition in summer 2013, to allocate the funding. The funded projects will then receive the funding over two full academic years (2013-14 and 2014-15).

The Students’ Green Fund will encourage local collaborative sustainability initiatives through students’ unions, putting students in the driving seat for sustainability engagement initiatives, as well as supporting them in their role as agents for change.

NUS is determined to create a social norm of sustainability in institutions. The groundwork laid by initiatives such as Student Switch Off in university halls of residence, the sustainable growth programme, Student Eats, and Green Impact, will be strengthened by the Students’ Green Fund.

A handy information video has been developed by NUS:



Details of the bidding process are on the NUS website. The final deadline for proposals is rapidly approaching and it will be interesting to see who the winners are and what kind of projects are supported. It’s a pretty large sum of money.

Using data to enhance campus services

Really useful data.

Some great examples of using data to improve institutional management in this The Chronicle of Higher Education story:

William D. Law Jr. was talking about “big data” before it was a buzzword. Mr. Law, president of St. Petersburg College, has long argued that colleges can improve student performance with a little number crunching, just as many businesses increase efficiency by looking for trends in all the contacts they have with their customers.binary

The key, he says, is to make sure that everyone on campus is clear about what the numbers mean, and that everyone can see the same information at the same time, so no-one feels blindsided.

But providing the data is one thing; people also have to use it. So Mr. Law has worked to keep numbers in campus conversations as the institution attempts to add new services, such as a system of alerts that flag students who might be at risk of dropping out. Every Wednesday morning, the president and other officials gather—some in person and others via Webcast—for a 30-minute briefing, at which administrators report on the progress of five key projects, including the alert system.

It’s not unique but is a really positive set of developments and the commitment to transparency is particularly laudable. What is most perhaps most impressive is that this seems to have been achieved without a huge investment in IT.

20 over 500

Youth isn’t everything

Last year it was Times Higher Education but this year it is the turn of QS to produce a ranking of newer universities, presumably on the basis that somehow they suffer in the rankings for not having done enough stuff over their limited histories. Unfortunately, this rather discriminates against older institutions which are also often disadvantaged in the rankings for being, well, old.

So, it’s time to right this wrong by producing the all new top 20 of universities over 500 years old. Let’s hear it for the ancients!

And the good news is that European universities once again dominate and Italy in particular does extremely well. It is also another good year for the University of Bologna, the grandaddy of them all, which is top of the heap for a record-breaking 925th year. Let’s look at the full top 20:

  1. University of Bologna
  2. University of Oxford
  3. University of Cambridge
  4. University of Salamanca
  5. University of Padua
  6. University of Naples
  7. University of Valladolid
  8. University of Murcia
  9. University of Montpelier
  10. University of Macerata
  11. University of Coimbra
  12. University of Alacala
  13. La Sapienza, University of Rome
  14. University of Perugia
  15. University of Florence
  16. University of Camerino
  17. University of Pisa
  18. Charles University of Prague
  19. University of Pavia
  20. Jagiellonian University

Not a huge amount to report here with the top 20 remaining entirely static (as it has done indeed since Poland’s Jagiellonian University opened back in 1364).

Sadly there’s still no place in the top 20 for the august institutions of Heidelberg, Vienna and Turin. And Scotland’s ancients, St Andrews, Glasgow and Aberdeen, also miss out yet again.

Do we need more ways to measure HE?

Clearly we do…

There seems to be a new review of performance indicators for higher education underway. This is, it appears, a “fundamental review” of how higher education is measured in the UK.

The review has been commissioned by HEFCE’s Performance Indicators Steering Group (the acronym for which I get a childish pleasure from saying out loud) and the details can be found at the site “Measuring higher education in the UK“.

The review is asking a number of important questions:

      1. Is there are need for performance indicators – why should we measure the performance of higher education institutions?
      2. Who are the users of performance indicators, and what sort of measures do they need?
      3. Are the existing performance indicators fit for purpose, and how do they link with other measures?
A graph which looks a bit like a KPI but really isn't

A graph which looks a bit like a KPI but really isn’t

They are keen for lots of people to contribute:

We are looking to involve a wide range of stakeholders who have an interest in how performance in higher education is measured. These may include universities and other individual HE providers; HE representative bodies; data users; funders, data owners and statistical bodies; employer representative bodies; and organisations representing and supporting prospective and current students and their parents.

Whilst I fear I have come to late to this to enable more contributions as the deadline has already passed (and there are no other links on this page to take you anywhere useful), it will be interesting to see how many do contribute and what the results are. What will those new performance indicators be? Or will everyone agree that there aren’t any meaningful indicators which can genuinely measure university performance?

On the size of branch campuses

Biggest isn’t always best but it does tell you something

Looking at the latest University of Nottingham student statistics and the most recently published HESA data it struck me that Nottingham is now the UK’s largest campus university (ie if we exclude the Open University). However, it is important to understand that two of our campuses are not in the UK but in Malaysia and China. Both are integral parts of the University, they host University of Nottingham students who study on University of Nottingham degrees and are taught by University of Nottingham staff. And, as the recent QAA review of the University of Nottingham Ningbo China demonstrated, they do it all rather well.

Just to be clear about the numbers then. our latest figures show that we have the following number of students:

– University of Nottingham UK – 33,944
– University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC) – 4,360
– University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC) – 5,461

So nearly 44,000 students in total. Which makes Nottingham overall significantly ahead of the University of Manchester. Big deal you might say.

But the issue here really is about recognition that our campuses in Asia (and other UK universities who are more recent arrivals may say similar things) are integral parts of the University. The data on these campuses and other UK university students studying overseas is now collected by HESA and the only other source we have of overseas campuses from other countries is the OBHE survey, last published in January 2012.

This survey shows that two of the top 5 (in terms of size) offshore campuses of universities are in fact UNMC and UNNC. The OBHE top 10 is as follows:

Institution and total students

1 RMIT in Vietnam – 5,145
2 Monash University in Malaysia – 5,000 (approx.)
3 University of Nottingham Ningbo China – 4,536
4 AMA International University in Bahrain – 3,945 (2008-09)
5 University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus – 3,779
6 Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University – 3,240
7 Curtin University in Malaysia – 3,080
8 Limkokwing University of Creative Technology in Botswana – 3,040
9 Wollongong in Dubai – 3,000
10 Monash University in South Africa – 2,685

Although accurate updated figures are hard to establish it would seem that as of now the top five is roughly the same but with Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University replacing AMA International in Bahrain and with UNNC still the largest UK branch campus. OBHE only has student number data for just over half of the 200 branch campuses it has registered – of the 77,448 students counted in 2010-11, just under 12% of these are University of Nottingham students.

Looking at the data in the 2012 survey on some of the other branch campuses often cited as examples of significant global activity, it is clear that they are much smaller operations. For example:

  • Sorbonne in Abu Dhabi – 606 students
  • UCL in Kazakhstan – 140 students
  • Carnegie Mellon in Qatar – 280 students
  • NYU in Abu Dhabi – 307 students
  • UCL in Qatar – 2 students

Others often referred to such as Duke Kunshan and NYU Shanghai do not formally open until later this year.

So, the University of Nottingham is the biggest UK campus university and is the UK university with the biggest international campus. Just to help with the sense of scale of operations, if UNNC were in the UK it would be around 120th largest HEI, slightly smaller than Cranfield and the University of Chichester but still larger than around 40 other UK HEIs, including SOAS, Abertay and Queen Margaret University. And combined UNMC and UNNC are bigger than around 60 UK HEIs and would be roughly 100th largest.

Just to add at a bit more perspective here UNMC is only 13 years old, UNNC has yet to celebrate its first decade. Both campuses have grown extraordinarily quickly and both have significant profiles in their host countries.

One more statistic. For every one of the last five years 100% of UNNC graduates have secured jobs or progressed to further study, many of the former to multinational companies with operations in China, many of the latter to leading universities around the world. It’s a KPI to be proud of.

This is the future. Significant and large multinational, multi-campus operations. Several other UK universities followed Nottingham’s lead in Malaysia. Others are now looking at China. The UK remains second only to the US (or third if we count France’s ESMOD’s 12 overseas fashion schools) in the number of branch campuses overseas according to OBHE. I’m sure it will continue.

Guardian League Table 2014: One or two changes

New Guardian League Table for 2014

Top 20 of the full list (available here) is as follows (last year’s position in brackets):

1 (1) Cambridge
2 (2) Oxford
3 (3) LSE
4 (4) St Andrews
5 (6) UCL
6 (7) Durham
7 (9) Bath
8 (12) Surrey
9 (13) Imperial
10 (5) Warwick
11 (7) Lancaster
12 (10) Exeter
13 (19) Leicester
14 (11) Loughborough
15 (30) Birmingham
16 (17) York
17 (24) UEA
18 (20) Heriot-Watt
19 (15) Edinburgh
20 (22) Kent

The full story on the extraordinary news that Cambridge has held on to top slot for the second year running can be found here. The top 20 is largely unchanged although Birmingham, UEA and Kent are all new entries.

A couple of other comments in the piece are worth noting if only because of the dramatic and bizarre consequences of the methodology on some institutions’ placings:

Lower down the table but still remarkable is the rise of Northampton, which climbs 39 places to 47 (from 86), largely thanks to improved job prospects and the entry standards of its students. And Portsmouth jumps from 78 to 48 this year. The main contributory factor here is a sharp increase in the number of students achieving a first or a 2:1.

It’s less good news at Sussex, which falls from 27th to 50th place as graduates find it hard to secure a job, particularly in philosophy and anthropology. But it’s not all bad news – on the back of extremely high student satisfaction and entry standards, Sussex has climbed to the top of the table for social work.

The biggest fall of all is by Cardiff Met, from 66th to 105th place. This is because of a sharp fall in student satisfaction. The ratios of expenditure and staffing per student also deteriorated.

Progress Claimed for Duke Kunshan University

Duke still sounds upbeat about its China campus.

The Chronicle’s Duke section has a report on what sounds like some modest progress with the development of the new Duke Kunshan University in China:

Considerable progress is being made on the campus of Duke Kunshan University, Provost Peter Lange said at Wednesday evening’s Duke Student Government meeting.

Lange updated the Senate on DKU as that campus comes closer to finishing construction and opening to students. Next week, he will be submitting an establishment proposal to the city of Kunshan that will outline the plans that Duke intends to take after construction is completed. He said there has been some feedback from students concerned that DKU construction is depleting funds that could be allocated to the arts and sciences at Duke.U154P5029T2D540617F24DT20121221174344

“Undergraduate financial aid is costing us a lot of money and causing a squeeze in the arts and sciences funding, not DKU,” Lange said. “DKU is just a drop in the bucket.”

He estimated that Duke will be required to pay about $5.5 million each year to keep DKU running. This small fraction of Duke’s total expected expenditures in the next five years, he noted. To date, the University has raised between $6 and 7 million dollars for DKU.

“No top quality university pays for itself with tuition,” Lange said, adding that Duke will pay 50 percent of the operational costs of DKU, and the city of Kunshan will contribute the other 50 percent.

Whilst it is, of course, interesting that the $5m plus running cost is “just a drop in the bucket” for Duke, what is more significant is that it does appear that the new institution has suffered from significant delays in construction and formal approval for its establishment is yet to be granted. More recent reports don’t add a lot in the way of positive news for the new university.