Universities must not use RAE results to axe jobs warns UCU

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on April 30th, 2009 by steve

UK“UCU today warned universities not to use the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) results as an excuse to axe jobs or departments. The content of submissions made to the RAE is published today on the RAE 2008 website and the union has said it fears some universities will try to spin the results to justify axing jobs or departments. One hundred universities have already signalled their intention to make job cuts and UCU is currently in dispute with the employers’ organisation over its failure to agree to a national agreement that would ensure any institution looking to axe jobs would have to make the case clearly and transparently …” (more)

[UCU, 30 April]

Tags: , ,

Top-earning academic asks staff for a free week’s work

Posted in Governance and administration on April 30th, 2009 by steve

Ireland“The country’s highest paid university head has suggested that staff work for a week for nothing to help the college through the current financial crisis. The move by University College Cork (UCC) president Dr Michael Murphy comes as university heads themselves consider a voluntary pay cut. The pay cut proposal is on the agenda for a meeting of the Irish Universities Association (IUA) today – but in return college bosses want discretion in relation to the recently announced embargo on filling posts …” (more)

[Katherine Donnelly, Independent, 30 April]

Tags: , , ,

FOI case could set precedent for universities

Posted in Legal issues on April 30th, 2009 by steve

UK“Teaching materials used on a BSc degree in homoeopathy must be released to a campaigner against ‘pseudo-scientific’ courses, the Information Commissioner has ruled. The ruling will force the University of Central Lancashire to submit to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act by David Colquhoun, professor of pharmacology at University College London, and could set a precedent for the sector. Professor Colquhoun, who is well known for a blog he writes attacking what he sees as phoney science, first submitted requests for the material to UCLAN in July 2006. The university refused to comply on the grounds that the material was commercially confidential and could be reasonably accessed by other means – namely, by enrolling on the course …” (more)

[Zoë Corbyn, Times Higher Education, 30 April]

Tags: ,

How universities are run

Posted in Governance and administration on April 30th, 2009 by steve

Ireland“It seems to me that one of the big debates that should take place, both in Ireland and elsewhere, over the next few years is what model of governance and management is most appropriate for higher education institutions. There are of course many different possible models, and many points of view amongst all the stakeholders. But one might say that on the opposite ends of the spectrum are, on the one side, those who would argue that universities are communities of scholars who should direct their own affairs by consensus, presided over by a primus inter pares with mainly ceremonial functions; and on the other side, those who argue that today’s universities are modern organisations that need to be led by a strong management responsible to corporate-style governing boards, with appropriate functions and powers delegated to a series of middle managers …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 30 April]

Tags: ,

Call off the witch hunts

Posted in Legal issues on April 30th, 2009 by steve

UK“All foreign students are now suspect in the current Salem-like xenophobic frenzy. We must stand firm. Many of us in higher education are engaged in debates about the Government’s recent moves to strengthen UK border controls for visitors and students, to weed out dubious higher education colleges, and to require academics and institutions to report overseas student attendance to the Home Office in the name of security and educational standards. After the police and security services arrested and detained 12 students in Manchester and Liverpool, not only the sector but UK society as a whole should be asking searching questions about policing, government policy, law and rights. Instead, we are confronted by a mainstream media content to deflect and distract with stories of possible plots, fake IDs, forged certificates and bogus colleges above fish-and-chip shops filled with “illegal” immigrants masquerading as overseas students, while civil liberties collapse quietly around us …” (more)

[Susan Edwards, Times Higher Education, 30 April]

Tags: ,

Was there a student voice in Leuven?

Posted in Governance and administration on April 30th, 2009 by steve

EU“The European Students’ Union (ESU) is clearly enjoying being a part of the Bologna Process. Claiming the legitimacy of representing 11 million students from 49 National student unions, the ESU is a stakeholder group directly involved in the Bologna Process and contributing position papers to the Leuven Meeting. Claims to representativeness though should be treated to with a note of caution and this applies even more to the unambiguous support which ESU gives to what it calls the Bologna Vision …” (more)

[GlobalHigherEd, 29 April]

Tags: ,

A cure for illness and an early warning for onset of disease

Posted in Research on April 30th, 2009 by steve

Ireland“Stem-cell research, currently the hottest topic in biology, is developing at lightning speed. The latest branch of this research was born in 2006 when Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University demonstrated a technique that turns ordinary body cells into cells that closely resemble embryonic stem cells. The products of the new technique are called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. Since Yamanaka’s breakthrough, milestone publications have appeared, developing the iPS cell technique and demonstrating its potential for medical therapy …” (more)

[William Reville, Irish Times, 30 April]

Tags:

The Inbox Police

Posted in Life on April 30th, 2009 by steve

USA“… There are those among us who believe that inboxes, like desks, should be kept neat and tidy at all times. And then there are those among us, like myself, who believe that the first group needs to back off. At least with desks, there’s a non-trivial risk of fire, and sometimes things slide around and get lost. (I’ll admit to having branded the occasional memo with Dilbert’s ‘brown ring of quality.’) But with email inboxes, as long as you have a decent ‘search’ function, I’m at a loss to explain why ritualistic purging is somehow a good thing. Purging an email inbox takes an astonishing amount of time, especially once you’re into the four or five figures …” (more)

[Inside Higher Ed, 29 April]

UCC staff asked to work a week without pay

Posted in Governance and administration on April 30th, 2009 by steve

Ireland“The head of one of the country’s largest colleges has asked his 2,800-plus staff to work a week without pay as part of a package of cost-cutting measures designed to plug a €7 million hole in its finances. Dr Michael Murphy, president of University College Cork (UCC), said the 18-member University Management Team has already agreed to lead by example and take the hit. However, he said, because of the cutbacks, the termination of temporary contracts is inevitable and services to students will be affected …” (more)

[Eoin English, Irish Examiner, 30 April]

Tags: , ,

Graduates face bleak job outlook

Posted in Life on April 30th, 2009 by steve

UK“A new report on the graduate job market in the UK confirms the worst fears of final year university students — vacancies for those graduating in 2009 have been reduced significantly and most positions have already been filled. The Graduate Market in 2009 examined graduate vacancies and starting salaries at Britain’s 100 leading employers. It was conducted by High Fliers Research in December 2008 and also involved interviews with final year students, including 482 at Queen’s University in Belfast …” (more)

[Kathryn Torney, Belfast Telegraph, 30 April]

Tags: ,

What’s College Admissions Without a Blog?

Posted in Governance and administration on April 30th, 2009 by steve

USA“College-admissions offices overwhelmingly consider social media important for recruiting students, and more institutions are creating blogs and online profiles, new studies show. Thirty-three percent of admissions offices kept blogs in 2007, and 29 percent maintained social-networking profiles, according to a report released today by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, known as NACAC. The report, ‘Reaching the Wired Generation: How Social Media Is Changing College Admission’, is based on survey responses from 453 colleges in the spring of 2007 …” (more)

[Sara Lipka, Chronicle of Higher Education, 29 April]

Tags: ,

Do universities really need to increase fees?

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on April 30th, 2009 by steve

UK“Are universities desperate to raise fees to boost their depleted coffers? The lack of outright campaigning on the issue is perhaps more telling than today’s suggestion that several top universities face deficits of £7,000 per student and now want to charge higher fees. Most universities are as resolutely silent on the issue as politicians, who refuse to discuss fees at least until after next year’s election – and even then it would be a surprise to have a quick announcement on raising fees …” (more)

[Anthea Lipsett, Guardian, 29 April]

Tags: , ,

End the University as We Know It

Posted in Teaching on April 29th, 2009 by steve

Ireland“Graduate education is the Detroit of higher learning. Most graduate programs in American universities produce a product for which there is no market (candidates for teaching positions that do not exist) and develop skills for which there is diminishing demand (research in subfields within subfields and publication in journals read by no one other than a few like-minded colleagues), all at a rapidly rising cost (sometimes well over $100,000 in student loans). Widespread hiring freezes and layoffs have brought these problems into sharp relief now. But our graduate system has been in crisis for decades …” (more)

[Mark C Taylor, New York Times, 26 April]

Tags:

Colleges urged to cater for disabled students

Posted in Governance and administration on April 29th, 2009 by steve

Ireland“Students with disabilities are an afterthought in many Irish universities, a symposium of education experts was told yesterday. The symposium, organised by the Association for Higher Education Access and Disability (Ahead), was meeting to draft a Charter for Inclusive Teaching and Learning for third-level students. Ann Heelan, director of Ahead, said universities needed to take the needs of students with disabilities into account when designing their courses …” (more)

[Aoife Carr, Irish Times, 29 April]

Tags: ,

Higher education and the flow of history

Posted in Life on April 29th, 2009 by steve

Ireland“A few years ago I was spending a day in a university library overseas, doing some research on an aspect of legal history on which I was writing. While looking for a particular article in a multi-disciplinary German journal I came across an autobiographical piece by an Austrian scientist whose name I no longer recall (I noted down several quotes from the article, but forgot to record the name of the author). He had been a professor in a university in Austria, and on one particular day in June 1914 he was due to deliver a farewell speech to a group of 52 graduating students. Just as he was entering the hall where the students were assembled a colleague whispered in his ear that the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Habsburg throne, had been assassinated in Sarajevo …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 29 April]

Tags: ,

Impact Factors, Citations and the h-index

Posted in Research on April 29th, 2009 by steve

Ireland“Rankings of universities and of individual researchers use impact factors, citation analyses and increasingly the ‘h-index’ as ways to measure research impact. There are numerous articles questioning the validity of these measures, but as they do exist it is worth knowing what they are and how to measure for yourself …” (more)

[Aoife Geraghty, Read Around Research, 28 April]

Tags: ,

Policies on Three-Year Bologna Degrees

Posted in Governance and administration on April 28th, 2009 by steve

USA“Part of the Bologna Process involves the standardization of three-year undergraduate degrees across Europe – prompting debates in the United States about how three-year degrees should be viewed in graduate admissions. A new survey of U.S. graduate schools by the Institute of International Education finds that 53 percent of respondents have official graduate admissions policies regarding three-year, ‘Bologna-compliant’ degrees, while 47 percent do not. Among those institutions that do have policies, 33 percent view them as equivalent to U.S. undergraduate degrees, 14 percent say they’re not equivalent …” (more)

[Inside Higher Ed, 28 April]

Tags: ,

Students to face increase in class sizes

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on April 28th, 2009 by steve

Ireland“Students could face larger tutorial and practical classes in September following a recent decision to place significant restrictions on staff recruitment by UCD and the Higher Education Authority (HEA). Both academic and administrative staff members who resign or retire will not be replaced, leading academics to fear that the future of some academic programmes and student services are in danger. Academic staff members are considering the move as a ‘possible knee-jerk reaction’ from both the university and the HEA and hope that following negotiations, UCD will be allowed a level of “independence in individual promotions,” said Head of Academic Staff Association (ASA), John Dunnion …” (more)

[Danielle Moran, University Observer, 28 April]

Tags: , ,

Disabled college students ‘ignored’

Posted in Governance and administration on April 28th, 2009 by steve

Ireland“Students with disabilities are an afterthought in many Irish universities, a symposium of education experts was told today. The symposium, organised by the Association for Higher Education Access and Disability (AHEAD), was meeting to draft a Charter for Inclusive Teaching and Learning for third-level students. Ahead director Ann Heelan said universities needed to take the needs of students with disabilities into account when designing their courses. ‘At the moment it’s like building a house with a granny flat at the side. Students with disabilities are placed in the granny flat rather than in the main house instead of putting structures down within the main house so that every room is accessible’ …” (more)

[Aoife Carr, Irish Times, 28 April]

Tags: ,

The final frontier

Posted in Governance and administration on April 28th, 2009 by steve

Ireland“In my university, and I think in most others in Ireland, and I suspect in many universities the world over, one of the key scarce resources is space. Quite often now the key problem with any new programme, new research project, new recruitment prospect, new anything really, is that we have to work out how we can accommodate it. DCU’s campus is, in terms of acreage, the smallest in Ireland, but for almost all of the university’s life there has been relentless growth; first in particular in undergraduate numbers, more recently strongly in postgraduate and staff research. During all that time there has been almost constant construction around the campus, but now the campus is very nearly fully occupied, and as you might expect the amount of construction, while significant, has still not kept pace with growth …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 27 April]

Tags: ,