Wednesday, May 30, 2012

QS Asian University Rankings

QS have just published their 2012 Asian University Rankings. I will comment in a bit more detail later.

The top ten are:

1.  The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
2.  National University of Singapore
3.  University of Hong Kong
4.  Seoul National University
5.  Chinese University of Hong Kong
6.  Peking University
7.  Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology
8.  University of Tokyo
9.  Pohang University of Science and Technology
10. Kyoto University


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The QS Under 50 Top 50

Early this month, Times Higher Education announced that they would publish a ranking of the top 100 universities less than 50 years old. The date for publication was May 31.

Now QS have just announced their ranking of new universities. The top ten are

1.  Chinese University of Hong Kong
2.  Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
3.  Warwick
4.  Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
5.  Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology
6.  University of York, UK
7.  Pohang University of Science and Technology
8.  Maastricht University
9.  City University of Hong Kong
10. University of California Irvine

East Asia, especially Hong Kong and Korea, make a strong showing although there are no Mainland Chinese universities in the top 50.

No doubt there will be quiet smirks around the QS offices. And no doubt THE will say something about originality on Thursday.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Exaggerated Metaphor Alert

Bloomberg has an interesting article by Mark C. Taylor, claiming that competition is killing higher education in the US.  I think that, like the Roman soldier in Night at the Museum, he is speaking metaphorically.

There are some amusing points about the craze for buildings and programs of every conceivable variety.

"It’s about “keeping up with the Joneses,” an official at Wright State University said in a Dayton Daily News article last fall detailing why colleges in Ohio were spending hundreds of millions of dollars on student centers and other nonacademic attractions in a down economy. In Georgia, state legislators arereviewing questionable practices used to fund 173 projects to build student housing, parking garages, stadiums and recreation centers.
Private universities with large endowments often start the cycle. Schools such as Harvard University and New York University, for example, take on billion-dollar debts. In a trickle-down effect, less affluent schools also feel pressure to borrow and spend -- money they do not have.  "

Then he describes how some schools have been gaming the rankings by reclassifying tutorials in order to decrease class size or by creating superfluous and expensive doctoral programs.

'Second- and third-tier universities often create unneeded doctoral programs to become eligible for additional federal support and to increase their global profile. For example, the University of North Texas has 36,000 students and advertisesitself as “a student-focused public research university”offering “97 bachelor’s, 82 master’s and 35 doctoral degree programs.”
Even this is not enough. Although severe budget shortfallshave led to cuts of as much as 90 percent for some programs, the university is adding new doctoral programs in a quest for the elusive top-tier status. This makes no educational sense and violates basic market principles. If successful, the University of North Texas will join too many other schools that are spending large amounts for unneeded programs that turn out products -- doctoral graduates -- for which the supply far outweighs the demand. This is a national issue, as pointed out in an article this month in the Chronicle of Higher Education titled “The Ph.D. Now Comes With Food Stamps.” '

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Ranking Countries

Universitas 21, a global alliance of research intensive universities, has produced a ranking of higher education systems. The US is top but the UK performs less well in tenth place. Muslim countries do particularly badly.

What might be interesting would be to compare resources with output and produce an index of efficiency.


"A nation’s economic development depends crucially on the presence of an educated and skilled workforce and on technological improvements that raise productivity. The higher education sector contributes to both these needs: it educates and trains; it undertakes pure and applied research. Furthermore, in a globalised world, a quality higher education system that is well-connected internationally facilitates the introduction of new ideas, and fosters trade and other links with foreign countries, through the movement of students and researchers across national frontiers.

Given the importance of higher education, a nation needs a comprehensive set of indicators in order to evaluate the quality and worth of its higher education system. A good higher education system is well-resourced and operates in a favourable regulatory environment. Domestic and international connectivity are also important. The success of the system is measured by output variables such as research performance, participation rates and employment. We use such indicators to derive a ranking of national higher education systems. 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 and territories at various stages of development.

The top ten countries, in rank order, are the United States, Sweden, Canada, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Norway, Australia, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. "

Monday, May 07, 2012

Oxford and Cambridge

Following on from the last post, can anyone explain why Cambridge can't produce Prime Ministers and Oxford can't produce comedians, at least not professional ones?
And now for something a little bit different

Times Higher Education has announced that it will publish a ranking of new universities (less than fifty years old).

The Times Higher Education 100 Under 50 will – as its name suggests – rank the world’s top 100 universities under the age of 50. The table and analysis will be published online and as a special supplement to the magazine on 31 May, 2012.
The vast majority of the world’s top research-led universities have at least one thing in common: they are old. Building upon centuries of scholarly tradition, institutions such as the University of Oxford, which can trace its origins back to 1096, can draw on endowment income generated over many years and have been able to cultivate rich networks of loyal and successful alumni (including in Oxford’s case a string of British Prime Ministers) to help build enduring brands.
Deja Vu All Over Again

Malaysia's love-hate affair with international rankings has taken another twist. The official target now is get one university in the top 50 and three in the top 100 in the QS rankings. That basically means that a Malaysian university will have to be the equal of New South Wales, Tsinghua or Warwick.

Last year Universiti Malaya got into the top 500 in the Shanghai ARWU ranking. That is a solid achievement and it might mean more  if Malaysia could get another university there.


This is as part of its efforts to have a local university ranked among the world's top 50 universities by 2020.
Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said the National Higher Education Strategic Plan also called for at least three local universities to be ranked among the world's top 100 universities.
To achieve this, he told the house that it needed to continuously recruit international students and participate in international education fairs to promote the "Education Malaysia" brand.
He was replying to Senator Mohd Khalid Ahmad who wanted to know why no local universities had been ranked among the world's top 200.
Saifuddin said the ministry was also intensifying promotional activities on the Internet and introducing student mobility programmes. This will allow them to take short-term courses with credits, and have better staff and student exchange programmes with foreign universities.
He said they were also having better scholarship coordination with foreign agencies and other bodies to facilitate the intake of foreign students at local universities.
He said the QS World University Ranking (QS WUR) was the preferred benchmark used to gauge a university.

What have I done?

I was recently in a public library somewhere in Southeast Asia. While browsing around I discovered that access to this blog was blocked because of  "other adult material".

I thought that perhaps someone was upset with university rankings in general, which is entirely understandable, but the THE, QS, ARWU, Webometrics and HEEACT sites were all unblocked.

My best guess is that the filter software interprets anything with "watch" in it as something to do with voyeurism. Or perhaps the post about "does size really matter?" was misunderstood.

Or perhaps it just means that this blog is very mature and sophisticated.

Is this what they meant by diversity?

On December 1st. of last year I commented on proposals that the US News Law School Rankings should include an indicator for diversity.

Such proposals are based on the increasing globalisation of the world economy and the need to understand other cultures. It is obvious that middle class white Americans who support abortion, gay marriage, affirmative action, feminism and Obama must sit in classes with middle class African Americans who support abortion, gay marriage, affirmative action, feminism and Obama if they wish to communicate effectively with North Korean bureaucrats, supporters of Boko Haram who will soon control most of Nigeria, the Muslim  Brotherhood or the Haredim who will soon control Israel.

The story of Elizabeth Warren, a professor at Harvard Law School who claims 1/32 Native American ancestry (which is not necessarily the same as Native American identity)  shows the importance of diversity in law education. Were it not for her Cherokee great-great-great grandmother she would obviously be teaching something quite different to her students and so would render them unfit to compete in our diverse multicultural world.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Student Experience Survey

From Times Higher Education, the top ten British universities from the students' viewpoint.

1.   Dundee
2.   Loughborough
3    Sheffield
4.   Oxford
5.   Cambridge
6.   East Anglia
7.   Southampton
8.   Aberystwyth
9.   Glasgow
10.  Leeds