2012 Shanghai Jiao Tong World Rankings: Top 20 and UK placings

2012 Shanghai Jiao Tong World Rankings: Top 20 and UK placings

Keep calm. Top 20 follows:

1 Harvard University
2 Stanford University
3 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
4 University of California, Berkeley
5 University of Cambridge
6 California Institute of Technology
7 Princeton University
8 Columbia University
9 University of Chicago
10 University of Oxford
11 Yale University
12 University of California, Los Angeles
13 Cornell University
14 University of Pennsylvania
15 University of California, San Diego
16 University of Washington
17 The Johns Hopkins University
18 University of California, San Francisco
19 University of Wisconsin – Madison
20 The University of Tokyo

The rankings have been published and are or will shortly be available at the ARWU website

As last year though there are no surprises and absolutely no movement in the top 20 with Harvard retaining the number 1 spot for the sixth successive year and everyone else unchanged too. They are going to have to think about changing to doing this every five years instead of annually.

In terms of the UK placings, again very little change:

5 University of Cambridge United Kingdom 1
10 University of Oxford United Kingdom 2
21 University College London United Kingdom 3
24 The Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine United Kingdom 4
40 The University of Manchester United Kingdom 5
51 The University of Edinburgh United Kingdom 6
68 King’s College London United Kingdom 7
70 University of Bristol United Kingdom 8
86 University of Nottingham United Kingdom 9

Only change is that Sheffield slips out of the Top 100.

Let’s hope there will be more excitement with the Times Higher and QS tables.


The Times: 2013 University League Table

2013 University Rankings published by The Times

The new Times league table is out and has been published here. There is though very little to get excited about in the Top 20 with hardly any movement and only one new entry (Glasgow) and one drop out (Sheffield). University of Nottingham drops four places to where it was in 2011 but remains in the Top 20 (just).

Last year’s position in brackets:

1 Oxford (1)
2 Cambridge (2)
3 LSE  (3)
4 Imperial (4)
5 Durham (6)
6 St Andrews (6)
7 UCL (5)
8 Warwick (8)
9 Bath (12)
10 Exeter (10)
11 Bristol (13)
12 Lancaster (9)
13 York (11)
14 Edinburgh (15)
15 Glasgow (-)
16 Loughborough (20)
17 Leicester (17)
18 Sussex (14)
18 Southampton (19)
20 Nottingham (16)

The full table can be found in The Times Good University Guide or you can buy the book.  Also on the website you can find the subject tables.

A higher level of ranking?

A new higher education ranking – this time of countries

U21 has published some new work on national education systems that gives the first ranking of countries which are the ‘best’ at providing higher education:

The Universitas 21 ranking of national higher education systems has been developed 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.

Research authors at the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, University of Melbourne, looked at the most recent data from 48 countries and territories across 20 different measures. The measures are grouped under four headings: resources (investment by government and private sector), output (research and its impact, as well as the production of an educated workforce which meets labour market needs), connectivity (international networks and collaboration which protects a system against insularity) and environment (government policy and regulation, diversity and participation opportunities). It also takes population size into account and produces some interesting results.

The top 20 nations according to this ranking are as follows. No surprises about which country is in first place but some of the other nations at the top of the table are perhaps a little surprising.

1 United States
2 Sweden
3 Canada
4 Finland
5 Denmark
6 Switzerland
7 Norway
8 Australia
9 Netherlands
10 United Kingdom
11 Singapore
12 Austria
13 Belgium
14 New Zealand
15 France
16 Ireland
17 Germany
18 Hong Kong
19 Israel
20 Japan

Looking a little more closely at the detail of the measures used:

The measures are grouped under four main headings: Resources, Environment, Connectivity and Output.

The resource measures we use relate to government expenditure, total expenditure, and R&D expenditure in tertiary institutions. The environment variable comprises the gender balance in students and academic staff, a data quality variable and a quantitative index of the policy and regulatory environment based on survey results. We surveyed the following attributes of national systems of higher education: degree of monitoring (and its transparency), freedom of employment conditions and in the choice of the CEO, and diversity of funding. Our survey results are combined with those from the World Economic Forum. Data limitations restrict the connectivity variables to numbers of international students and articles written jointly with international collaborators.

Nine output measures are included and cover research output and its impact, the presence of world- class universities, participation rates and the qualifications of the workforce. The appropriateness of training is measured by relative unemployment rates. The measures are constructed for 48 countries at various stages of development.

And the US is not top in every category. It’s an interesting and different approach deliverng a ranking which presumably will not change very much over time. I wonder though if national governments will react to it.

The full report, U21 Rankings of National Higher Education Systems 2012, is available here.

Killing the myths in higher education

Misunderstandings and myths

An interesting new pamphlet has just been published by HEPI. Misunderstanding Modern Higher Education: Eight “category mistakes” is a brief and snappy read and is available from the HEPI website:

In this HEPI occasional report, Professor Sir David Watson discusses eight myths – category mistakes – concerning higher education that are widely believed, and argues that these need to be exploded if higher education is to maintain its current comparatively healthy state. This report is based on his presentation to a joint HEPI/HEA seminar at the House of Commons on 26 January 2012.

It’s quite a challenging set of propositions. Here a category mistake is defined as a “sentence that says one thing in one category that can only intelligibly be said of something of another” eg “what does blue smell like?” Watson suggests there are at least eight category mistakes in higher education discourse at present. Some of these I’d agree with but other I think are less convincing.

1. “University” performance

Watson argues that it is the sector or the subject rather than the institution which is the more meaningful unit of analysis. This is certainly true in certain areas, eg NSS, as suggested here. BUT the institution is the key organisational unit, indeed the primary one. While it can reasonably be argued that the university is no more than the sum of its (academic) parts and the staff in those units identify with them more strongly than with the university itself, it is surely wrong to imagine that the subject/department can regarded as an entirely independent unit. There is a mutual dependency here.

3. HE “Sector”

We should be talking about tertiary, ie post-secondary, education rather than exclusively about higher ed. I’m not sure I agree nor does it seem to me that this is a category error. “Higher” education is a sub-category of tertiary education. It is funded differently and has a different set of traditions and regulatory frameworks to other tertiary provision. We might want to take a more rounded view of tertiary education and, indeed, it would be short-sighted not to. But do we gain much by preventing sub-divisions within the very wide range of activity that is tertiary education?

4. Research “selectivity”

Research concentration, which the system encourages, is running counter to the national need and the general trend towards inter-institutional collaboration. In the long run, concentration of research will be counter-productive and isolated work will wither. Two tiers won’t work therefore. But surely this is just an argument for a different kind of selectivity, one based on different criteria to those generated through RAE/REF? For example, signficant collaboration could be the primary criterion. With limited resources to go round though there is always going to be some selectivity.

Probably mythical

5. World-classness

Watson highlights the madness of the international league tables and notes that what everyone says they want is not reflected in what league tables measure. The international tables, which are the determinant of ‘world-classness’, are fundamentally related to research. Again therefore this is about the criteria selected.

7. Informed choice

The paper rightly notes that student choices over time have moulded our system. The idea that students need more information which will then persuade the market to do what government wants is, Watson argues, fundamentally misguided. Additional information is simply not going to get students to do government’s bidding.

8. Reputation and quality: the confusion between the two

Clearly there is some form of relationship between reputation and quality but Watson argues that the gap in reality is much smaller than it often appears. Good quality can clearly exist independently of reputation. Also Watson rightly notes the perception of student instumentalism and its dominance in the discourse.

(I’ve ignored number 2, Access, and number 6, The public/private divide, here.)

And finally…

Finally, Watson asks “What is to be done”?

Rather than Leninist solutions though he offers three particular suggestions. First, the system will need to be messier, more flexible and co-operative. Secondly, we should not chase the Harvard model but rather aim to develop a system more like the California Masterplan – this is really about the national direction of tertiary education. Thirdly, he argues that a proper credit accumulation and transfer framework is needed: “we fail to use these systems for reasons of conservatism, snobbery and lack of imagination”. (Actually, I’d suggest it is much more about a desire to protect institutional autonomy.)

Watson concludes by arguing that we should start by tackling these category mistakes and then learn to live with “flux and contingency”. I’m not sure we would want to spend a huge amount of time on the former or that we have any choice about the latter. It’s the nature of the world we operate in. Do read the piece though.

On Meaningful University Collaboration

Collaboration Theory and Practice

There’s an exciting new HEFCE report out on the lessons learned from collaborations, alliances and mergers. It has also resulted in an exciting new acronym, CAM. In these austere times it’s good to know that we are still able to produce good acronyms. The report, available here, is also a consultation document which invites further comment and evidence from the sector:

Collaborations, alliances and mergers among universities and colleges have been an important feature of the higher education sector throughout its history, but relatively little information has been published on this activity. We have therefore published this study to help the sector learn from the experiences of others and improve the likelihood of success considering or implementing change. The information has been drawn from case studies in England and overseas, interviews, existing literature and other published information.

Sir Alan Langlands, HEFCE’s Chief Executive, said:

‘CAM activity might well continue to be part of the higher education sector’s response to change, and has the potential to provide opportunities for educational development, new research directions and greater effectiveness. However, any decision about change is a matter for institutions – there is no question of a top-down approach. HEFCE’s primary role is to safeguard the collective interests of current and prospective students and the wider public. In seeking to encourage the development of a more diverse and dynamic sector and supporting student choice, we will respect the autonomy of institutions and support them in any way we can.’

The CAM report coincides with the first anniversary of the University of Birmingham/University of Nottingham collaborative partnership, the marking of which was reported in the Times Higher Education:

Publication of the report came as David Eastwood, University of Birmingham vice-chancellor and former Hefce chief executive, gave his view on the sector’s future as the collaboration between his institution and the University of Nottingham marked its first anniversary.

Professor Eastwood told Times Higher Education that while Nottingham and Birmingham each had annual turnovers of around £500 million and were “financially strong”, there were universities with £30 million to £50 million turnovers “having to carry a lot of the same infrastructure costs that we do”.

“If we can see some issues from a combined operation of almost £1 billion, you would expect others to be in search – rather urgently – of those kinds of efficiencies.”

In their year of collaboration, Nottingham and Birmingham have jointly appointed an international officer to boost student recruitment in Brazil and established a £480,000 joint investment fund for research partnerships with institutions in Sao Paulo state. At home, they shared research equipment and won a share of £5 million to set up one of two national centres for ageing and pain research funded by the Medical Research Council and Arthritis Research UK.

Professor Eastwood said the collaboration had stimulated “a lot of interest both in the sector and in government. What we are doing will remain relatively rare, because it is relatively rare to have two big universities, financially strong, which over a period have built good relations. There will be other issues that move other institutions to alignments and mergers.”

Nottingham and Birmingham “have their own identities…and are not going to do anything that undermines that”, he added.

Nottingham vice-chancellor David Greenaway put the collaboration in the context of “diversifying research income streams – which is important to do in the current climate”, arguing that “there are resources out there, especially in the big emerging economies”.

Professor Greenaway said of the joint MRC funding: “I don’t think that would have happened without the collaboration. We probably would have ended up putting in competing bids – neither bid would have been big enough, strong enough, in its own right.”

He also highlighted the potential for the two universities to work together in pre-university education on “changing life opportunities in [the] two cities”.

(See also the University of Nottingham statement on the milestone.)

Another dimension of the collaboration, a research partnership in Brazil, was also reported recently on the Guardian Higher Education Network:

The ability to operate at scale has allowed us to develop 20 full-fee PhD scholarships annually for Brazilian students; a visiting fellows programme and a £480k joint research investment fund with the São Paulo Research Foundation. We have also planned a series of joint workshops in-country focused around energy (oil and gas, bioenergy), with further themes under discussion.

Alongside the benefits of scale are the traditional benefits of complementarity. Our collaboration enables each partner to bring its individual strengths to the table. We have found this could be research expertise or in areas such as student exchange and teaching links. An example of this is in the area of ultra-cold atoms and energy – Birmingham has expertise in optical lattices and nuclear energy and Nottingham in atom chips and bioenergy; both areas being of particular relevance in our links with Brazil.

Although it is still early, there is a real sense of purpose around what we are doing in Brazil. We hope what will follow will be additional academic collaborations, increased research income, and greater visibility. Overall, we need to be prepared to invest considerable time and energy working together and acknowledge that the effort may take a while to bear fruit.

These are just a couple of case studies of how the Birmingham/Nottingham collaboration is playing out. It still feels like early days but there are some striking examples of how working together is proving to be mutually beneficial. This is very much at the softer end of HEFCE’s CAM spectrum but it is extremely fruitful for both universities.

Other universities have sought to emulate the success of the Nottingham/Birmingham partnership in the last year including Liverpool and Lancaster (although that does seem to have gone a little quiet of late). Most recently though Warwick and Queen Mary have announced a partnership. According to the Times Higher though they seem to be slightly at odds about some elements of the collaboration:

The University of Warwick and Queen Mary, University of London, could share lecturers as part of a new programme of research and outreach collaboration.

In a joint statement, the two institutions said “cross contributions to undergraduate teaching” by their scholars would “ensure that the universities’ students benefit from the partnership by having access to an even broader range of leading academics”.

Overall, the collaboration in teaching, research and widening participation “aims to ensure that both universities continue to thrive amidst the increasing uncertainty and pressures facing higher education institutions in England”.

A spokeswoman for Queen Mary added that the universities would share lecturers in third-year undergraduate history, English and computer science seminars, and look to expand to other subjects in the future.

However, a spokesman for Warwick stressed that no decisions had been taken, claiming that there were no specific plans to share lecturers.

This comes on the back of the international partnership recently announced between Warwick and Monash University in Australia which will be secured by, among other things, the appointment of a shared Pro-Vice-Chancellor.

So, everyone is at it and that HEFCE report is looking rather timely.

“Topsy-turvy ranking” in social science teaching

Research which challenges some league table views of teaching quality

Times Higher Education has a piece on a detailed study of teaching of Sociology at a range of instututions which has some interesting results:

Teaching in universities that are usually ranked towards the bottom of higher education league tables is more consistently of a high standard than instruction at institutions towards the top of the rankings, a study has suggested.

The in-depth examination of pedagogical quality in sociology and related degrees at four different types of institution found that rankings were not a good guide to teaching quality or the “personal transformative” effect of an undergraduate education on students.

Researchers from the universities of Nottingham, Lancaster and Teesside interviewed students at four other unnamed institutions over the three years of their degree courses.They also surveyed 700 students, interviewed lecturers and observed teaching as well as analysing assignments and each department’s curriculum documents.

More details of the research are on the University of Nottingham website. The problems with league table and ‘student as consumer’ approaches are questioned and the deeper benefits of the students’ educational experiences highlighted:

These research findings have a number of significant policy implications that contradict approaches endorsed by government and higher education leaders following recommendations in last year’s Browne Report.

Principal investigator Dr Monica Mclean from The University of Nottingham’s School of Education worked with Dr Paul Ashwin from Lancaster University and Dr Andrea Abbas from Teesside University to evaluate courses. They interviewed students over the three years of their degree courses, surveyed over 700 students, interviewed lecturers, observed teaching and analysed assignments, each department’s curriculum documents, and national policy documents.

In their research, the team identified indictors of high quality learning outcomes and processes which are not accounted for in the measures currently used in higher education league tables (such as, staff: student ratios, money spent on library resources, or numbers of research students).
They found three broad outcomes of a high quality undergraduate social science education, which included both individual and social benefits. These were:

· enhanced academic and employability skills
· understanding of and empathy for a wider range of people
· a change in personal identity and an intention to change society for the better.

The extent to which students experienced each of these individual and social benefits was positively and significantly related to their levels of engagement with academic knowledge or mastery of their subject.

Students experienced engagement with academic knowledge as a process of personal transformation that required hard work to achieve. Research showed that facing the difficulty of acquiring knowledge makes it valuable and enjoyable. Experienced difficulty of the disciplinary knowledge was very similar across all institutions.

Differences in the quality of undergraduate education, as defined by the indicators above, did not reflect the institutions’ positions in higher education league tables. Scales used in the survey reveal the complexities of the experiences of a high quality undergraduate degree. They show that students at all surveyed HEIs grapple with – and value – the same kinds of knowledge and report achieving similar individual and social outcomes.

All of this shows that undergraduate education is a lot more complex and difficult to capture than league tables suggest and raises real questions about current Government higher education policies.

Tilburg University Economics Ranking

Another University Ranking You Didn’t Know You Needed

Bit of a one for the anoraks this, and certainly one of which I was, until very recently, unaware. It is, as the title suggests, a ranking of Economics departments, namely the Tilburg University Economics Ranking. It’s a pretty straightforward methodology too – they have identified a list of 36 leading journals in the fields of Econometrics, Economics and Finance and have ranked economics schools based on publications in these journals for the last five-year time period. And the results are as follows (with changes to rankings in brackets):











11. [-1] LSE










And just for domestic interest the other UK placings in the Top 50 are:






Fascinating, huh?

Impact : Academic Excellence

The Impact Campaign at the University of Nottingham – Delivering Academic Excellence


A previous post reported on the launch of the Impact Campaign. Now we’re into a bit more of the detail about why the campaign is important and how our academic excellence has been constantly enriched by philanthropy. Part of Impact: The Nottingham Campaign is about how we can extend our academic excellence through the funding of new academic posts that will enhance research, teaching and the transfer of knowledge.

New funding will make a tangible and lasting difference to our work. Two examples where philanthropy could enhance the academic excellence are in the creation of new Chairs – a Chair in Business History and a Chair in Jewish Studies:

Chair in Business History

The Issue

Historical case studies inform us about today’s business environment, in terms of dealing with crises (financial and otherwise), networking and environmental impact. The UK and East Midlands have many under-used sources, and the University wishes to create a dedicated resource to address this.

Our Solution

The creation of a Chair in Business History and development of a co-ordinated research group around it will provide expert leadership and momentum in drawing together and driving forward existing and new historical research and teaching at Nottingham. This will broaden our understandings of business history in a regional, national and international context.

Our Impact

Through independent and collaborative research and teaching, the Chair in Business History will drive forward new research on the history of business, and disseminate that knowledge to have an impact on understanding today’s – and the future – business environment.



Chair in Jewish Studies

The Issue

The University has consistently been a leader in the study of Christianity and Christian theology, and Islamic Studies has for more than a quarter of a century been an area of teaching and research here. Jewish Studies has had a less consistent presence. The University wishes to strengthen and ensure continuity of its teaching and research in this area.

The Solution

The creation of a Chair in Jewish Studies and the development of a co-ordinated research group around it will provide the leadership and momentum to draw together and drive forward world-class research and teaching in Jewish Studies at Nottingham.

Our Impact

By attracting a top flight scholar of Jewish Studies to a Chair in one of the UK’s best-known and most dynamic Theology and Religious Studies Departments, we will secure teaching and research in this area, and enhance the profile of Jewish Studies in Britain as a whole.

These are really important developments for the University. More details can be found here on Academic Excellence at the University of Nottingham. Please do support the Impact Campaign.

Launch of the Impact Campaign at the University of Nottingham

The Impact Campaign launches today at the University



A rather different focus here on the blog for the next few days. The University of Nottingham is launching a significant and important campaign today:

About the campaign:

By helping us to raise £150 million over the next five years you will be supporting a series of high-impact projects on the local, national and global stage.

Across five campaign themes these projects will have a positive and lasting influence on society. We want to make an impact that will touch generations. So join with us and contribute to securing an ambitious and sustainable future.


The campaign is key to the long term ambitions of the University in looking to deliver outstanding research outputs, impactful knowledge transfer and the best possible experience for our students. I’m enormously proud to be a supporter of the campaign and to be part of this important development at the University. It should be a great launch week.

More details can be found on the Impact campaign site.

How to create a world-class university

Is there really a recipe for creating a world-class university?

University World News carries a piece on what looks like a fascinating new publication from the World Bank on the making of world class universities. The report looks at a number of case studies, particularly from East Asia, and draws out several common characteristics of the most successful institutions.

The report is available from the World Bank here and the abstract sets out the approach:

How do you build a world-class research university from scratch? In today’s ever-faster, global economy, many countries are reflecting on the merits of building elite global universities to make their mark in world research. Recognizing that such universities are emerging as the central institutions of the 21st Century’s knowledge economies, a new book ‘The Road to Academic Excellence: The Making of World-Class Research Universities’ examines the recent experience of 11 universities in 9 countries on 4 continents that have grappled with the challenges of building successful research institutions under difficult circumstances, and synthesizes the lessons learned. This book will be essential reading for governments, tertiary education leaders, employers, and citizens, considering reforms and innovations to improve their country’s position in the global scene.

The University World News article highlights the successes of the universities in Asia and their characteristics:

Top-performing research universities share three common characteristics – a high concentration of talented academics and students, significant budgets and strategic vision and leadership, according to the authors.

“Global talent search seems to be one of the most powerful accelerating factors” towards world-class status for research universities whether they are in a poor or rich country, and whether they are small or big, said Salmi. “It is all about talent.”

According to Salmi, what distinguishes successful East Asian universities from the rest of the world is an emphasis on international staff and students.

“Both Shanghai Jiaotong University [China] and Pohang University of Science and technology [South Korea] made a strategic decision to rely principally on Chinese or Korean academics trained in the best universities in North America or Europe and, to a large extent, to recruit highly qualified foreign faculty,” he noted in the study.

But he acknowledged that new research universities face special challenges in attracting top academics and good students.

One of the most successful examples in the study, Hong Kong University of Science and technology, “pushed this logic to the extreme,” according to Salmi

“The rapid development and rise of the new university can be attributed in large part to its systematic policy of giving priority to outstanding Chinese from the diaspora for staffing the initial contingent of academics.”

This enabled the institution to become a node for disseminating global knowledge within the country and region and to contribute to global knowledge, an important characteristic of world-class institutions.

It’s perhaps not terribly surprising that you need top talent, plenty of money and some good leadership for a university to succeed. More interesting is that there seem to be only a modest number of institutions which have rapidly achieved world class status in the way described here. Maybe it’s harder to collect the ingredients and follow the recipe than it appears.

2011 Shanghai Jiao Tong World Rankings: Top 10 and UK placings

2011 Shanghai Jiao Tong World Rankings: Top 10 and UK placings

The rankings have been published and are available at the ARWU site I believe but there seem to be problems with access at time of writing. Am therefore going with second hand accounts of the positions (which I hope are accurate).

As last year though there are no surprises and very little movement in the top 10 with Harvard retaining the number 1 spot for the fifth successive year (last year’s position in brackets):

1 Harvard University (1)

2 Stanford University (3)

3 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (4)

4 University of California, Berkeley (2)

5 University of Cambridge (5)

6 California Institute of Technology (6)

7 Princeton University (7)

8 Columbia University (8)

9 University of Chicago (9)

10 University of Oxford (10)

The Times Higher (which clearly has managed to access the ARWU site) has the UK’s top performers (ie in the Top 100) as follows (last year’s position in brackets):

5 Cambridge (5)

10 Oxford (10)

20 University College London (21)

24 Imperial College London (26)

38 University of Manchester (44)

53 University of Edinburgh (54)

68 King’s College London (63)

70 University of Bristol (66)

85 University of Nottingham (84)

97 University of Sheffield (88)

So, very little change at all to report apart from Birmingham dropping out of the top 100. Perhaps there will be more excitement with the Times Higher and QS tables.

Sustaining Excellence conference

2011 APM Conference – Sustaining Excellence

A brief note on what felt like a really good event, building on the success of first APM conference last summer and involving nearly 300 professional services staff from across the University.


In the main sessions we heard about the development campaign from Professor Jane Seymour together with an outline of the formal campaign laumch week in October and details of lifecycle, the John O’Groats to Land’s End ride being undertaken by the Vice-Chancellor and colleagues in August.

Chris Thompson, CFO, updated everyone on fees, funding and finances, highlighting the many financial challenges we are facing and how we are responding. We remain in a strong position but there is absolutely no room for complacency.

Professor Wyn Morgan, Director of Teaching and Learning, reported on the range of initiatives currently under way in teaching and learning including how we all have a part to play in delviering a world class student experience.


There were some great workshops on offer, with the lean and speed-dating sessions proving extremely popular:

Workshop 1: An Introduction to Lean Process Methodology & Its Application Within The University
Workshop 2: Virtual Tour Of Campuses In Asia, Teaching Partnerships And Internationalisation
Workshop 3: Professionalising Marketing And Recruitment In Changing Times
Workshop 4: What Is Research Margin And Why Does It Matter?
Workshop 5: Why Do Universities Need To Make A Surplus?
Workshop 6: Speedy Professionals: Putting A Face To A Name
Workshop 7: Go Greener
Workshop 8: Balancing The Demands Of Work And Non-Work Commitments
Workshop 9: Building Positive Working Relationships: Why Do Colleagues In Teams Have Differences At Work?

Final session

We also had an entertaing Q and A session covering car parking, IT, marketing and environmental issues.

And finally the Vice-Chancellor wrapped things up, stressing the critical contribution made by all professional services staff in supporting the delivery of the University’s strategic plan.

Thanks are due to all the speakers, panellists and those staffing the stalls as well as the organising committee, headed by Hannah Robinson. Particular thanks too Karen of Classy Cupcakes for running the charity cake sale.

I hope colleagues found the day useful, met people they had not come across before and learnt something new.

White Paper inspiration from the US?

A somewhat different approach to cost savings in the new fees regime

Not sure if this was a source of inspiration for the White Paper. It looks like something of a blue print for efficient management at the bargain basement end of the new private providers (but perhaps not for the New College of the Humanities). The model presented here from Professor Vance Fried and published by the American Enterprise Insititute for Public Policy Research has a number of what look like helpful pointers for the new private providers:

“Higher education insiders sometimes point to the increasing cost of auxiliary services like student housing and big-time athletics as a major cause of large tuition increases. This is a red herring,” notes Fried. “Football, good food, and hot tubs are not the reason for runaway college spending. Rather, the root cause is the high cost of performing the instructional, research, and public-service missions of the undergraduate university.”

To identify areas ripe for cost savings, Fried creates a provocative experiment: what would it cost to educate undergraduates at a hypothetical college built from scratch? Fried concludes that undergraduate colleges should consider five major cost-cutting strategies:

1. Eliminate or separately fund research and public service

2. Optimize class size

3. Eliminate or consolidate low-enrollment programs

4. Eliminate administrator bloat

5. Downsize extracurricular student activity programs

“Rather than focusing only on the big-ticket items that tend to dominate debates about college costs, Fried argues that the real levers for increasing efficiency include rethinking student-faculty ratios, eliminating under-enrolled programs, and trimming unnecessary administrative positions,” explains Andrew P. Kelly, AEI research fellow and editor of the Future of American Education Project. “His recommendations are a must-read as states look to rein in college costs.”

There is clearly a strong ideological undercurrent here. And the points about ‘administrator bloat’ and drastically reducing student activities appear particularly narrow-sighted and significantly at odds with the White Paper notion of putting students at the heart of things. So perhaps extremely cheap and not very cheerful is not the way forward after all.

The Times: 2012 University League Table

2012 University Rankings published by The Times

The new Times league table is out and there are some interesting changes. Some shuffling in the middle of the table and a couple of high climbers and a drop out.

Last year’s position in brackets:

1 Oxford (1)
2 Cambridge (2)
3 LSE  (5)
4 Imperial (3)
5 UCL (7)
6 Durham (6)
6 St Andrews (4)
8 Warwick (8)
9 Lancaster (10)
10 Exeter (12)
11 York (9)
12 Bath (13)
13 Bristol (14)
14 Sussex (21)
15 Edinburgh (11)
16 Nottingham (20)
17 Sheffield (18)
17 Leicester (15)
19 Southampton (19)
20 Loughborough (16)

Perhaps the most interesting points here:

  • Lancaster, after a meteoric rise, seems to have consolidated its position in the top 10
  • Sussex has risen 21 places in two years to enter the top 20
  • Buckingham, appearing here for the first time, sits just outside the top group at 21
  • King’s College was 12th two years ago but has now dropped to 24th
  • Nottingham continues to make steady progress (particularly pleased about that)

The full table can be found in The Times Good University Guide or you can buy the book. Both will cost you. Also on the website you can find the Subject Tables (again you will need to subscribe for access).

Ranking in Latin America

New Latin American league tables emerging

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on a league table developments in a number of Latin American nations:

The growing influence of university rankings has reached Latin America, with governments, news media, and private researchers drawing up domestic versions that they say are important for the institutions and students alike.

Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru each have at least one national ranking. Some were first published in recent months, and all use different approaches to evaluate their higher-education institutions.

A few, such as in Chile, are produced by news-media companies. Others, as in Colombia, were carried out by independent researchers. And some, like Brazil, are not so much rankings as government-sanctioned ratings.

Whatever their origin, they all serve a purpose that goes beyond boasting or one-upmanship, experts say. The rankings put pressure on lagging universities to up their game, and they give government officials, students, and parents a useful yardstick.

“Global rankings are very important. But there are close to 15,000 higher-education institutions in the world, and the global ranking deals with only 400, 500 of them,” says Kazimierz Bilanow, managing director of the Warsaw-based International Observatory on Academic Rankings and Excellence. “There are millions and millions of students who never think of going to Harvard. But they want to go to university and get an education, so they look at their own country. National rankings give them some guidance.”

The Brazil government rankings are intended to result in failing institutions being closed. The Colombian ranking uses a narrow range of indicators focusing on graduate student numbers, journals and recognised research staff numbers. Chile seems to have broader range of published indicators to draw on which are published by government including “courses most likely to lead to jobs, expected salaries on graduation, and space on campus per student”.

Whilst these national rankings seem to be having a local impact in some countries, it does seem that international developments are on the way with QS planning to introduce a new Latin American ranking. In time there will undoubtedly be more Latin American institutions in the global rankings too.