Graduate Programme for University Leadership Now Recruiting

An outstanding programme for graduates looking to develop careers in university management.

Recruitment for this year’s round of Ambitious Futures, the Graduate Programme for University Leadership, has recently gone live:

The university sector is one of the most innovative, vibrant and exciting environments in which to build your future career. If you’re looking for a graduate programme that leads to a highly successful and dynamic career in an entrepreneurial, global business, The Graduate Programme for University Leadership is it.

Are you ready for a career in a world of discovery?

This cutting-edge programme will show you how the challenging and stimulating business of a university operates. You’ll meet some of the most talented people in the country, if not the world, and gain an inside view into the sector’s management and business processes. A key aspect of your training will see you working alongside a diverse range of partners, from students and employers to funding bodies and commercial organisations.

It’s the opportunity to contribute to a life you have already experienced and enjoyed, and make a difference to the learning of future generations of students. What’s more, you’ll be working at the heart of fast-paced and world-leading commercial organisations that, rather unusually, are not primarily motivated by profit-making.

The University of Nottingham has run a similar programme for number of years (and indeed has played an active role in the development of this national scheme). You can find details of the Nottingham offer here.

It’s a fantastic scheme and one I’m really pleased that the University of Nottingham is part of. The sector really does need to train and develop many more professional service leaders and this programme will be a major contributor to that as it continues to grow.

Also good to see the recent book on Managing your Career in HE Administration refer positively to the value of Ambitious Futures too.

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Honorary Degree: serious or celeb 2014

Who are this year’s lucky winners?

A post some time ago on Honorary Degree recipients noted that almost all of them fall clearly into one of two categories: they are either serious or celeb. Back in 2013 I provided a handy list of recent Honoraries for further analysis.

Basically, if you are a serious academic, no matter how outstanding your research, if you haven’t got your own TV series or appearing frequently in the tabloids, you really aren’t going to get the coverage. So, it does rather look like quite a few of the honorary degrees awarded this year might be for something other than sustained and outstanding achoevement in a particular field. But perhaps I’m being harsh and some of these awards are for reasons other than fleeting celebrity:

The very famous breakfast presenter Louise Minchin was recognised by the University of Chester for all of her early morning achievements.

How? Yes, Fred Dinenage got an Honorary from Southampton Solent

HOW?

HOW? (Dinenage at back left. No pipe.)

 

Cheers! Hanover College recognises Woody Harrelson for his many acting achievements.

Pele picks up yet another award, this time from Hofstra.

jeff lynne

Jeff Lynne – All his own hair

Bryan Ferry – Extraordinary that it took so long for Newcastle University to recognise the Roxy Music frontman’s genius

Jeff Lynne, of ELO fame, gets a scroll from BCU.

Placido Domingo – hitting all the right notes at Berklee College of Music
(nope, I’ve never heard of them either).

James Galway, perhaps not as famous as he once was, nevertheless gets an award from Rochester.

Not as famous as he once was

Can you guess which instrument he is famous for?

A collection of giants from the world of popular music have also been recognised by some leading institutions:

Sean Puffy Combs received a lot of publicity for his richly deserved Honorary and commencement address at Howard University.

Puffed up? Moi?

Puffed up? Moi?

Yoko Ono urges graduates “Let’s together be the metronome of our very troubled human culture or human race” after picking up her honorary.

Ricky Ross, legendary Deacon Blue frontman, picked up a degree from Abertay.

They don’t come cooler than this – LL Cool J was rewarded for his outstanding achievements by Northeastern.

Let’s rock as AC/DC’s Brian Johnson gets the nod from Northumbria.

And perhaps the most richly deserved is the honorary for Pitbull. Not before time.

Who can begrudge this award to rock titans Rush who picked up a collective award from the improbably named Nipissing University?

No time for 20 minute solos at graduation folks

No time for 20 minute solos at graduation folks

Moving on…

The University of Kent is recognising this celebrity triumvirate: Harry Hill, Sandy Toksvig and Robert Wyatt – all eminently worthy in their fields (well, Robert Wyatt for sure).

And Edge Hill has an equally impressive trio recognising Johnny Vegas, Harrison Birtwhistle and John Foxx.

 

It's a degree certificate

It’s a degree certificate. Nothing legal at all.

And then, of course, for his outstanding and lengthy football career (rather than his temporary stint as manager at Old Trafford presumably), no writs can prevent us knowing that Ryan Giggs has been awarded a degree by Bolton.

Finally, and most youthfully among this collection, Aaron Porter is to be recognised by his alma mater the University of Leicester. Perhaps more serious than celebrity this one.

So, an impressive and rich crop this year. Any exceptional awards I’ve missed out?

Betting the farm

A very big gamble

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an extraordinary piece about how one investment manager gambled away $13.1 Million of her university’s money:
cash pile

Over a series of three contracts, Ms. Prizevoits signed over more than $8-million of the 96-year-old university’s money in 2008 to a Florida-based company called Betts and Gambles Global Equities LLC, to invest in collateralized-mortgage obligations. The founder of the company, federal-court documents state, instead spent part of the money on a Ferrari, a Maserati, and real estate.B y 2010, Ms. Prizevoits had become suspicious of the investments she had made with Betts and Gambles, documents state. Even so, she made another questionable investment on behalf of Ball State, sending $5-million to a California company, Blackhawk Wealth Solutions Inc., to invest in fixed-income securities called Treasury Strips. Much of that money flowed to another company, and was then used to buy a series of real-estate properties in the Bronx, N.Y.

Really does seem bizarre that anyone would do this and that they would manage to gamble away quite so much money without anyone noticing.

I would have thought through that the name of the company might have been a pointer to the problems to come: “Betts and Gambles Global Equities” should at least have raised an alarm bell?

Big bucks for students with big ideas

A big prize for University of Pennsylvania graduates

The Philadelphia Enquirer has a good story about an initiative at the University of Pennsylvania for graduates who want to change the world:

Graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with a strong desire to change the world and an excellent plan for how to do it?A new Penn program may fund you.Penn president Amy Gutmann has created “engagement prizes” of up to $150,000 – $50,000 for living expenses and $100,000 for project execution – for students with the most promising plans to improve local, national, or global conditions in the year after their graduation.”We want to maximize the encouragement we can give our students who do well by doing good in the world,” Gutmann said Tuesday.

Money for something

Money for something

It’s perhaps not an entirely novel idea but the scale of it is impressive:

While other schools offer prizes, Penn’s effort appears to offer more money..”I don’t know of anything that’s even close to that big,” said Jeffrey Selingo, author of College Unbound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students and a contributing editor to the Chronicle of Higher Education. Gutmann said she wanted to create a prize on the order of the prestigious Rhodes or Marshall scholarships, and offer it in a way that gets an entire senior class from an elite university focused on civic engagement and innovative thinking. She said she knew of no other university that had created such a prize.”We want this to be something that isn’t their second or third choice, but their first choice,” Gutmann said. “I think this is going to create a cadre of students who are committed to civic engagement.”Colleges large and small increasingly are looking for ways to tie what students learn in the classroom to the real world, Selingo said. Davidson College in North Carolina, for example, offers paid “impact fellowships” to recent graduates who work with nonprofit organizations on critical health, education, and environmental issues.Penn’s new prize will pay for up to three projects per year; students can apply individually or in groups of up to three.

So, will we see UK universities trying something like this? Lots already offer small awards to current students to support good works or charitable endeavours but I’m not aware of anything on this scale. The award could be a game changer for Penn but will other students or unsuccessful competitors be resentful about the size of the pot? We’ll have to see but if they do make a real difference with the prize then we can expect that lots of others will be following suit.

Needed: More Money, Money, Money

Higher Education needs more and better fundraising. And fundraisers

A new publication from HEFCE.on developing the HE fundraising workforce:

This report was commissioned by HEFCE to address one of the recommendations in ‘Review of Philanthropy in UK Higher Education: 2012 status report and challenges for the next decade’ (the Pearce report), specifically the future development and training needs of the higher education philanthropy workforce.

More please

More please

The 2012 report showed that investment in fundraising brings results whatever the size or type of university or college. If the success described in that report was to continue, it would be necessary to have a strong and growing group of educational fundraisers who are skilled in leading development teams and working with academics and institutional leaders.

This new review on the philanthropy workforce indicates the pool of professional fundraisers working in UK higher education is too small if the ambitious targets for the next decade are to be met.

In order to attract more people to become and remain educational fundraisers, there needs to be an attractive career structure and a shared understanding of the skills and knowledge-base required to be effective at different stages of that career. This issue has guided this report: what should a career path in educational fundraising look like and how can we retain the best people?

The evidence in this review of the fundraising workforce is intended to address those questions. The arguments in favour of developing a long term view which will provide the staffing required are undeniable but nevertheless it will be challenging to deliver.

I also thought the point made about developing the next generation of fundraisers was particularly important:

Internship schemes (notably the HEFCE-supported CASE graduate traineeships) are working well as entry points and could be extended to a wider range of institutions. Top student callers, who learn their craft on university “phonathons”, are an excellent source of fundraising talent, as are others who carry out student work in development offices.

 
The numbers involved in the CASE graduate traineeship scheme remain small though and there is also a role for the Ambitious Futures programme, the wider graduate training scheme for higher education in the UK, for contributing to the development of this future pipeline of fundraising staff.

It’s an important report.

University of Nottingham: Gig central

The University has hosted some impressive acts down the years.

It has been quite a long time since the University of Nottingham hosted really big bands. But the history, mainly from the early 70s before the advent of the Boat Club and Rock City, is surprisingly impressive:

Some gigs took place in the Sports Centre, others in Portland. Some other star performers included:

Rod Stewart
Cat Stevens
Mott the Hoople
The Incredible String Band
The Who
Yes
Jethro Tull
The Strawbs
Can
Gong

By AVRO (Beeld En Geluid Wiki - Gallerie: Toppop 1973) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Slade!

And some performances resulted in live albums including from

John Martyn
Soft Machine
Fairport Convention

They fitted in pretty well

We also had

ELO
Roxy Music
The Kenny Ball Orchestra
Wishbone Ash
Lindisfarne
Rory Gallagher

And slightly more recently:

The Damned
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
Human League
Squeeze
Dr Feelgood
Simple Minds
Siouxsie and the Banshees
The Cure
Japan

All the big names

Plus:

Cast
808 State
Carter USM
The Levellers

51QLYPAvDnL.Image._

And some even bigger names

Perhaps the biggest gig at the University was the historic first performance by Wings in the Portland Ballroom. Details of this occasion have previously been published on a University of Nottingham blog

Songkick has a pretty good list of gigs too. But fails to mention Gary Glitter’s show.

Are there any that anyone remembers from this list or that aren’t included here? I’m imagining that Strawbs gig was something special.

 

 

Slade picture:  By AVRO (Beeld En Geluid Wiki – Gallerie: Toppop 1973) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The Graduate Programme for University Leadership

An excellent programme for graduates looking to develop careers in university management.

Recruitment for the Graduate Programme for University Leadership has recently gone live and the pitch is a good one:

The university sector is one of the most innovative, vibrant and exciting environments in which to build your future career. If you’re looking for a graduate programme that leads to a highly successful and dynamic career in an entrepreneurial, global business, The Graduate Programme for University Leadership is it.

Are you ready for a career in a world of discovery?

This cutting-edge programme will show you how the challenging and stimulating business of a university operates. You’ll meet some of the most talented people in the country, if not the world, and gain an inside view into the sector’s management and business processes. A key aspect of your training will see you working alongside a diverse range of partners, from students and employers to funding bodies and commercial organisations.

It’s the opportunity to contribute to a life you have already experienced and enjoyed, and make a difference to the learning of future generations of students. What’s more, you’ll be working at the heart of fast-paced and world-leading commercial organisations that, rather unusually, are not primarily motivated by profit-making.

The University of Nottingham has run a similar programme for number of years (and indeed has played an active role in the development of this national scheme) and you can find details of the Nottingham offer here.

It’s a great initiative and one I’m really pleased that the University of Nottingham is part of. The sector really does need to train and develop many more professional service leaders and this programme will be a major contributor to that as it grows in future years.

The Imperfect University: Know Your History

Know your history.

For my 700th blog post here I thought I would reflect on university histories. Given their nature it’s often struck me as rather surprising that universities and their staff tend not to have a well developed sense of institutional history.

Research matters to universities but they tend not to prioritise maintaining their own records for future researchers. It’s possibly that universities are generally not brilliant at comprehensive record keeping because of their devolved nature and more recently because of the shift from paper to digital but nevertheless there are core records around, for example see Nottingham’s institutional collection. Plus there is enough oral history available from longer established staff to last a lifetime if you ask for it.

Anyway, my contention is that staff at every level of the University need to know more about their institution’s past.

Testing times

To make this point, a while ago I imposed a quiz on some of my colleagues about the University as it was 60 years previously. The questions included the following (and I’ve added the answers here to avoid any distress):

  • In 1950, on 11 July, we had “degree day”. How many ceremonies did we have in July this year in the UK? (Answer – 16 in the summer – but note there were more ceremonies at the Malaysia and China campuses as well as winter ceremonies)
  • How many Senate meetings were there in 1949-50? (There were seven. We now have three per annum.)
  • How many Council meetings? (There were nine. We now have six a year.)
  • In 1949-50, Council had how many members? (37. We now have 25.)
  • Senate membership? (A mere 35 members. We now have over 100.)
  • Fee for a full-time BA? (It was £31,10s, equivalent in 2013 would be £943.06.)
  • Resit fee? (10/6)

Not surprisingly they didn’t do terribly well. Even though these were the easy questions.

A new history

Recently, the University commissioned a new history primarily to cover last the 20 years or so of institutional activity and capture some of the most major changes at Nottingham, including in particular the establishment of the international campuses in Malaysia and China. We were also keen to ensure we recorded a lot of learning and information in a more comprehensive archive than would be publishable (also recognising that the pace of change and move from hard copy to electronic has made record keeping more problematic) but which would be a valuable resource for future historians.

The previous history (in two large volumes) by Dr B H Tolley covered mainly the period 1948, the year the institution received its Royal Charter, through to 1988, with plenty of material too from the earlier period of the operation of University College Nottingham since its inception in 1881.

The last history. Not very portable.

The last history. Not very portable.

Whilst Tolley’s magnum opus offered comprehensiveness it lacked a certain degree of readability. I believe there are still copies available through Amazon (although not at bargain prices).

Beyond this though there are other accounts of the University of Nottingham, its Vice-Chancellors and the estate. A previous post commented on the souvenir brochure from this event which included more details of the Trent Building design.

More books

More books

My favourite is the 1928 book (unnamed) which dates from the opening of Trent Building by King George V. A brief silent film records the event:

Nottingham’s New University

Jesse Boot, in his foreword to this 1928 publication, commented:

At the moment of the opening by His Majesty the King, when the stones of the coming University are still unweathered by time, it is difficult to appreciate the full significance of this educational development. Thousands of students yet unborn will pass along the corridors and learn in the lecture rooms, and wrest the secrets from nature in the laboratories. Their work will link still more closely industry with science, add to the honour of the City and help to increase the well-being of our nation.

The significance of this is that there is a common thread running from Boot’s original vision for the new University College through the Royal Charter to the current strategy of the University.

More landmarks

There are other important milestones in the University’s history. For example, knowing that Gandhi spoke to a packed Great Hall back in 1931 gives additional depth to our international strategy.

A good turnout

A good turnout

The visit of Einstein who, as this video recounts, delivered a spectacularly unsuccessful lecture to a mixed audience of Germanists who understood no physics and physicists who knew no German (but he did leave some interesting formulae on a blackboard):

Remembering that students campaigned very hard to secure Senate representation over a number of years in the late 1960s and that in 1968 John Dunford, President-elect of the Students’ Union (and recently awarded an Honorary Degree by the University), was the first student to address the Senate.

And of course the cultural landmark that was the first public performance by Paul McCartney and Wings back in 1972.

All of these provide context and a reminder that the success any institution enjoys today is built on the hard work, commitment and brilliance of previous generations of academics and professional services staff. It is clear from the 1928 book referring to the very early days of the University College that there were many challenges during its development:

It must not, however, be thought that the road was smooth, for the obstacles were many. Many of the prosperous bourgeois of the city were inclined to scorn the College because it appeared too democratic, while others openly scoffed at spending money on such subjects as Classics or Philosophy. But it met local needs, and students who were not confined to any special class came from the whole district.

…at the beginning of the twentieth century, the Treasury Inspectors, who had to visit the College to see whether it was entitled to a Government grant wrote that: “We think that the College exhibits the nearest approach of all Colleges which we have visited to a People’s University.”

Decisions taken by staff at all levels of our universities today are not context free. We can all learn from what went before so that we build on our history and are not trapped by it. But we do have to know it first.

Legacy

As importantly is the knowledge that part of all our jobs is about stewardship – about ensuring that the generations of students and staff who follow us are able to achieve even more by building on what we leave behind. As Alderman E Huntsman, Mayor of the City of Nottingham and Chair of the Council of Nottingham University College, noted (again in the 1928 book):

We of today owe more than we can express to our forefathers…The Council and Senate of the University College are not unmindful of their responsibilities, and assure all those into whose hands this book may pass, that they are resolved that the great ideals of Sir Jesse for a University with the complete right of self-government, and the power to shape its courses to meet the special needs of local industries and conditions, shall be accomplished to the full. The gifts recorded in this book and offered to the People’s University will assuredly bear fruit for all time.

Anyway, I’m now really excited by the prospect of the publication next year of a new history of the University of Nottingham. It’s being prepared by very wonderful and diligent Professor John Beckett of the School of Humanities and will bring things up to date as well covering some of the earlier history in outline. It will I hope also have the advantage of being highly readable, and including much more material about students and the student experience (largely neglected in previous publications) and, rather marvellously, will have pictures too.

The Trent Building

The Trent Building

But let’s leave the last word to Jesse Boot who in the 1928 book in commenting on the future history of University College Nottingham says that the final chapter is as yet unwritten but

will tell in due season how the University College won its Charter, and thus Nottingham became the seat of a great people’s University, which in each succeeding age will spread the light of learning and knowledge, and will bind science and industry in the unity that is so essential for the prosperity of the nation and the welfare of our fellow citizens.

Powerful stuff.

So, know your history.

‘University of Nike’ in Oregon

A huge investment in university sport.

 

The New York Times has a report on the opening of a hugely expensive new facility to enhance the University of Oregon’s football programme. It comes courtesy of a sizeable donation from one of the founders of Nike.

The Football Performance Center, which was unveiled publicly this week, is as much country club as football facility, potentially mistaken for a day spa, or an art gallery, or a sports history museum, or a spaceship — and is luxurious enough to make N.F.L. teams jealous. It is, more than anything, a testament to college football’s arms race, to the billions of dollars at stake and to the lengths that universities will go to field elite football programs.

The performance center was paid for through a donation from Phil Knight, a founder of Nike, an Oregon alumnus and a longtime benefactor of the university. During a tour of the complex Wednesday, university officials declined to give a dollar figure, even a ballpark one, insisting they did not know the total cost of a football center where even the garbage cans were picked with great care to match the overall design. (Early design estimates placed the center’s cost at $68 million, which, based on the tour, seemed conservative.)

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The tour lasted more than three hours and covered the full 145,000 square feet of the complex (with 60,000 additional square feet of parking). Nike and its relationship with Oregon are obvious early and throughout. One small logo outside the Ducks’ locker room featured the university’s mascot, wearing a top hat adorned with a dollar sign. Oregon football is often viewed through that lens by outsiders, who derisively have christened Oregon as Nike University.

A video is available here which gives a flavour of this extraordinary facility. The characterisation of the college football competition as an arms race seems particularly apposite. This level of investment for just one sport at a university is breathtaking.

Go Ducks!

More honoraries: serious or celeb 2013

Who are the lucky stars this year?

A previous post on Honorary Degree recipients noted that almost all of them fall clearly into one of two categories: they are either serious or celeb. The former really don’t get much press coverage so it doesn’t really matter if you have won a Nobel prize, discovered a new element or are a great writer or artist you really aren’t going to get noticed for your Honorary if you don’t feature regularly in the tabloids. So who are this year’s celeb graduates and who are the serious stars?

First up is Emma Thompson who collected an honorary degree from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) in Glasgow along with her mother Phyllida Law.

Sir David Attenborough has been given yet another honorary degree from Queen’s University in Belfast, adding to his huge pile of scrolls. This is allegedly at least his 31st honorary. He’s always been a bit of a collector.

Birmingham chose to honour Mock The Week panellist Chris Addison. The press release notes that “the funny man first graduated from the university with a degree in English literature in 2004.”

Moshi_monster_logo-1-

Birmingham is also awarding an honorary to Michael Acton Smith, founder of Moshi Monsters, together with media star and former Midlands Today presenter Kay Alexander.

Olympic gold medal winning cyclist Jason Kenny has been award an honorary doctorate of science by the University of Bolton.

The ubiquitous Emeli Sande was awarded a Doctor of the University by Glasgow for her “outstanding contribution to the music industry”.

_68137191_68136949

UCD has honored Sinead Cusack who was once a student there but quit to be an actor.

Barbra Streisand received an honorary doctorate of philosophy degree from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Glenn Close received a Doctor of Laws from Canada’s Queen’s University

Bowie State University awarded Ashford and Simpson, singing duo, an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree (or possibly one each).

Warwick honoured Gavin and Stacey star Ruth Jones. who was made an Honorary Doctor of Letters along with Adrian Lester, who appeared in BBC series Hustle.

Judy Dench picked up yet another Honorary from Stirling.

Bill Clinton popped into the University of Edinburgh to pick up his latest award.

St Andrews awarded Terry Jones an Honorary.

And finally, my personal favourite, Richard Jobson, formerly of the popular beat combo The Skids, was awarded the world’s biggest ever Honorary Degree by Napier University.
190613-the-skids-singer-richard-jobson-receiving-honorary-degree-from-edinburgh-napier-university

STOP PRESS…

News just in that this year’s most inspired Honorary Degree award has been made by Salford University. Step forward Dr John Cooper Clarke who is quoted thus in the Manchester Gazette:

The Doc

The Doc

John said: “I am very proud to receive an Honorary Doctorate from Salford University.

“The city where I was born and grew up.

“I am very much looking forward to using the title ‘The Doc’.

“There have been lots of positive changes since I worked at Salford Tech, in the 70s.

“I am pleased to be known as Salfords’ Bard and to have helped put it on the map.”

STOP PRESS AGAIN…

Great one this – another inspired choice – Leeds Met give an Honorary to Barry Cryer. “My CV is now one line. BA Eng Lit. Failed. Honorary Doctor of Arts.”

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.

Yet another ranking

This time it’s an alumni ranking

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on this new player in the US college rankings:

If you had it to do all over again, would you choose to attend your alma mater? Do you think the education you received there was a good value? How much money do you make? Oh, and are you happy?

The newest player in the college-rankings game has asked such questions of more than 42,000 college graduates. Called the Alumni Factor, the new venture has released a college guide based largely on the opinions of those who’ve earned bachelor’s degrees from one of 177 institutions.

U.S. News & World Report’s popular rankings tell you a lot about who comes through a college’s gates; the Alumni Factor’s rankings were designed to capture who emerges at the other end of the enrollment cycle. The former relies, in part, on the opinions of outsiders to rate a given college; the latter relies on the opinions of people who, presumably, know the place well.

“We want to pierce the bubble of reputation,” says the introduction to the Alumni Factor’s guide, “to understand how graduates actually perform post-graduation—and hear what they have to say about the job their college did to prepare them.”

Although the nation’s shelves are already full—perhaps too full—of college guides, the Alumni Factor’s timing, at least, seems impeccable. Today’s students and parents are asking more questions about outcomes, about the success and salaries of an institution’s graduates.

According to the blurb the Alumni Factor research “listened to the people who’ve been overlooked in popular college rankings”, ie the Alumni. Looking at the sample reports on colleges on The Alumni Factor website the ratings do look pretty comprehensive, covering actual outcomes–career success, financial success, and graduates’ happiness:

 

The weaknesses of the project seem to me to be its limited coverage, with only 177 institutions covered, and the fact that it is a monthly subscription service. With so many other guides and rankings it’s not clear why you would pay monthly for access to this data. And, as noted in relation to the UK in the previous post, there really isn’t an information deficit in higher education. Suspect though there will be something like this in the UK before long.

 

The University of Nottingham at the Olympics

As has previously been noted here the University of Nottingham is very keen on the Olympics:

The Aspire sculpture becomes the Olympic Torch for the day

Six University of Nottingham graduates have bagged Olympic medals for Team GB over the past 20 years, making it the UK’s 7th most successful university at the Olympics.

To put this in context, 80 countries have never won an Olympic medal, while another 41 (including former nations) have won fewer than four, according to Wikipedia.

Our recent success has come on the water. Flat water canoeist Tim Brabants picked up a gold and a bronze in Beijing, adding to the bronze he’d won at Sydney in 2000, during a break from his degree in Medicine.

In 2009, Tim received an honorary degree from the University and an MBE. He’s looking to defend his Olympic title after securing his place for Team GB in the K1 1,000m event.

Tim Brabants and David Florence

The University’s reputation on the water is secured by three more Olympic medalists. Gareth Marriott won Britain’s first Olympic canoeing medal with a silver in the Canadian Singles Class at Barcelona in 1992, and Campbell Walsh secured silver in the K1 event at Athens 2004. And London 2012 gives David Florence the chance to go one better than the silver he bagged in the C1 category in Beijing four years ago.

More details of these and other Olympic connections, including pieces on cultural connections, one of our Paralympic hopefuls and some of the stars of the future, can be found in the latest edition of Exchange magazine.

Looking to match the success of one of our Honorary Graduates, Rebecca Adlington, in winning a medal are the following Nottingam alumni and students:

* Tim Brabants (Medicine 1999): Men’s Kayak Singles (K1) 1,000m, Finals — Eton Dorney, Monday 6 and Wednesday 8 August
* Johny Akinyemi (Philosophy and Theology 2010): Men’s Kayak Singles (K1) 1,000m — Eton Dorney, Sunday 29 July and Wednesday 1 August
* David Florence (Mathematical Physics 2005): Men’s Canoe Slalom (C1) — Eton Dorney, Sunday 29 July and Tuesday 31 July and Men’s Canoe Doubles (C2) — Eton Dorney, Monday 30 July and Thursday 2 August
* Etienne Stott and Tim Baillie (both Mechanical Engineering 2000): Men’s Canoe Doubles (C2) — Eton Dorney, Monday 30 July and Thursday 2 August
* Rob Moore (Economics 2003), Nick Catlin (History 2010) and Harry Martin (Economics 2015): Men’s Hockey — Riverbank Arena, Monday 30 July to Saturday 11 August
* Anne Panter (Mathematics and Economics 2009): Women’s Hockey — Riverbank Arena, Sunday 29 July to Friday 10 August.
* Chris Bartley (Biology 2005): Rowing Men’s Four — Eton Dorney, Monday 30 July to Saturday 4 August.
* Olivia Whitlam (Environmental Science 2006): Rowing Women’s Eight — Eton Dorney, Sunday 29 July — Thursday 2 August.

Very best of luck to them all.

Nottingham Potential – a launch and an opening

Helping young people to reach their true potential

I was delighted to be at an excellent event to mark the launch of Nottingham Potential and the formal opening of the IntoUniversity Nottingham West centre. It’s a major programme and a central component of the University’s widening participation strategy which has the aim of helping young people to reach their true potential. A full statement on the launch is here but in summary:

An ambitious new programme will help some of the most deprived young people in the East Midlands to reach university.

Nottingham Potential represents a major investment in the future of the primary and secondary-age school pupils — a multimillion pound commitment to help break down the barriers to higher education.

Delivered by The University of Nottingham in partnership with education charity IntoUniversity, Nottingham Potential will provide new learning centres in the community to support pupils from the ages of 7-18, including one-to-one support with homework, literacy and numeracy, coursework, exams, GCSE options and A-levels, careers advice and applications to university.

Nottingham Potential, as reported by the Nottingham Post, is supported by a major donation from Nottingham alumnus, David Ross, seen here at the launch:

The Post notes that Nottingham Potential aims to break down the barriers to higher education in some of the most deprived parts of the City.

Mr Ross, who is the co-founder of phone firm Carphone Warehouse, has his own charity, the David Ross Foundation, which works with children in schools in deprived areas.

He said: “The David Ross Foundation’s partnerships with schools in deprived areas has shown us that in order to raise young people’s aspirations then the earlier we start, the better.

“Our focus is on working with children at an early age to show them that a university education is a door very much open to them.

“Talent and ability is abundant in these schools, and in many different fields – academic, artistic, sporting and many more.

“However, without the right kind of encouragement and support young people may not appreciate the opportunities that they can seize.”

In addition to Mr Ross’ donation, the university is spending £16 million a year on the project by 2015-16.

It’s a really exciting programme and the collaboration with IntoUniversity, the charity’s first outside London, will make a real difference to educational opportunities in Nottingham.

The initial base opened in the Hope Centre, Broxtowe Estate, yesterday.

Advice for prospective students – quantity and quality

High quality advice and guidance is key for delivering access

An interesting piece by Tessa Stone in the Times Higher Education on the importance of clear, impartial and high quality advice for potential university students. I’d agree with a lot of what Tessa says:

So, the schools that already do this well will continue to give their students the advantage that sound advice and guidance makes. For those without access to such advice, the gulf will widen further. Universities provide masses of advice already, yet coverage is not universal and the market imperative risks seeing focused recruitment trump broader outreach work. This is a risk we must guard against.

You would expect someone like me, running a charity that seeks to connect, inform and inspire more people to achieve their potential through education, to argue strongly in favour of maintaining the broadest possible approach. But in my experience, most of the staff who have tirelessly delivered outreach over the past decade, much of it altruistic, also share my concern.

Silver bullets there are none, but one smart approach that some of Brightside’s university partners are taking is to provide initiatives that are relevant to a number of priorities. We provide an e-mentoring service that universities (and others) can embed into their outreach activities – making ongoing mentoring support available beyond the summer school or shadowing scheme, and generally being the thread that binds intermittent, face-to-face activities. Our university partners also see this as a way to aid retention and success and promote employability (recent graduates and local employers mentor second and third years).

This is just one example, but whatever form such collaboration takes – and however much universities may rail against yet again having to make up for problems for which they are not responsible – it is crucial that it happens. We must respond to the serious and growing need for clear, impartial information and advice about the system. If we do not, it is not clear who will.

Unfortunately, the Government’s approach seems to be largely pinned on simply providing additional information for potential students, primarily via the Key Information Set or KIS:

The problem with KIS is that is just provides more information in what is already a very crowded bazaar- it will not necessarily help applicants make sensible informed decisions (and it inevitably adds to the regulatory burden on universities, but that’s another story). The latest addition to this very busy picture was recently reported in the Observer, which noted that Which? Magazine intended to enter the market for provision of information to students. In order for applicants to make properly informed decisions there really is a need for human intervention.

Nottingham Potential, part of the University of Nottingham’s Impact Campaign, will, working in partnership with Into University, address just the issue identified by Tessa:

The University has a long tradition of working with young people, teachers, schools and colleges across Nottingham and the East Midlands to raise aspirations and support achievements.

Despite changes in funding and fee structures for the higher education sector, the University is clear about the direction and commitment needed to improve access for those who aspire, and have the ability, to pursue higher education.

Excellence in education and equality of access and opportunity are guiding principles in our strategic plan. These principles are also central to Nottingham Potential. Through it, we will create a distinct and high-profile pathway to higher education for the most deprived young people of our region.

Nottingham Potential will expand the University’s work with children of primary age, from as young as Year 2 (age 7), through the transition to secondary school and beyond, by providing a pathway that will support achievement and raise aspirations.

Nottingham Potential is unique in providing long-term support tailored to young people with educational ambitions. This can only be achieved in partnership with families, schools, teachers, community groups, and by drawing upon the extraordinary commitment and expertise shown by the University’s students and staff.

The University will deliver Nottingham Potential on our campuses and in satellite centres within three of the region’s most deprived communities. With 24 new staff strengthening teams, the number of opportunities for contact will almost double in five years, from 28,000 in 2011 to almost 50,000. This will make the University a positive and accessible presence in the lives of the region’s most deprived young people.

Nottingham Potential will make a real and lasting difference in our region. But the fundamental problem in advancing this agenda further is one of scale – there are around 3.25m secondary students in 4,500 secondary schools (non-private) in England – our universities, no matter how hard we try, are not going to reach all of them – it requires something more joined up and government-led to do that. There are no silver bullets and just providing more information is not the answer. It’s about quality AND quantity.