The secret to making family life compatible with an academic career

EuroScientist celebrates International Women’s Day 2017 by covering a study giving food for thought on the issue of work/life balance for career scientists. Germany has traditionally looked down on mothers pursuing their career in the immediate few years after their children were born. However, a new survey by the German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies (DZHW) shows that there are several key factors influencing researchers to stay in academia. These include the ability to self-determine their working hours, a flexible workplace and the existence of a long-term professional perspective. Clearly, respondents to the survey from both genders appear to strive for a better work/life balance. But it may take another generation for old habits to die.

Time to sign the Open Letter

In October 2014 a visible one-month march by scientists from across France converged on Paris. Organised by Sciences en Marche, it included all categories of colleagues from French universities and research centres who cross-crossed the French roads on their bikes, stopping in many towns to talk to the citizens about the non-measurable values of Higher Education and Research (HER), values that are essential for sustaining a democratic and flourishing society.

Once upon a time, the tale of how French scientists lost their autonomy

Protests concerning the French government’s policy on public research and higher education (PRHE) has arisen in France during the course of 2014. Interestingly, these protests are taking place five and ten years, respectively, after the previous research activism movements of 2004 and 2009. So why such protest? Find out more in this riveting perspective by Alain Trautmann, former spokesperson of the 2004 protest movement, Sauvons la Recherche. He provides the benefit of hindsight into 15 years of French research policy and, thus, gives a unique analysis of the current research activism movements in France.

U-MultiRank ambitious, but lacking critical mass to face up to other university rankings

Back in 2012, the UK’s universities minister David Willets warned that the European Commission’s project to develop a new approach to global university rankings, U-MultiRank, risked being dismissed as a self-serving exercise. It could be viewed as “an attempt by the Commission to fix a set of rankings in which European universities do better than they appear to do in the conventional rankings”, he told a House of Lord’s European Union Committee enquiry on the modernisation of higher education. Two years on, now that the first ranking is live and we can see which institutions have – and more importantly have not — chosen to join the bold experiment, it would seem that the minister’s warning was remarkably prescient.

Controversial and powerful: university rankings under scrutinity

There are a number of worldwide university rankings, which are often used as a guide for future education and career progression. These include, among others, the ranking of The Times Higher Education (THE), the QS World University Rankings, the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) , also known as the Shanghai Ranking, and the very recently launched U-Multirank, funded by the EU. While some few universities from Western Europe and North America still dominate most of these rankings, there is a trend for the emergence of young universities from newly-industrialised countries such as China and India.

Mainstream EP election debate: Innovation equates with economic recovery

When it comes to innovation, in particular, the dominant discourse during the debates taking place in the running up to the vote to elect members of the European Parliament was about bringing Europe on the path to economic recovery and to ensure economic sustainability. Among all the parties contributing to the mainstream media debate, very few come up with truly specific measures to support economic recovery based on research and innovation. The lack of details also plagues the pledge of investment in research and innovation made by parties on both sides of the political spectrum. Besides, higher education is mainly present in the mainstream media debate on the topic of the expansion of the Erasmus+ programme.

Academic and research circles EP election debate: too few concrete proposals

The debate in the running up to the 22nd and 25th May 2014 vote to elect members of the European Parliament, is also taking place among academic and research circles. Opinions and analyses have been published in the specialist press and on the pages of science and higher education advocacy groups across Europe. A few of them have questioned the main political parties about their intentions in relation to topics relevant to scientists, innovators and academics. Below are outlined the key issues featured in this debate, ranging from the ERA, mobility, higher education, H2020 funding and the national target of investing 3% of GDP in R&D.

European Elections coverage – Print edition

In the past few weeks, European elections debates to elect members of the European Parliament (EP) have been in full swing. The vote will take place between the 22nd to 25th May 2014, depending on the country. In most territories, the mainstream press appears to have little concern over higher education, research and innovation. It is also worth distinguishing the debate taking place in academic and research circles. There, the debate is only touching a few of the issues pertaining to research and education that would need to be addressed.The EuroScientist following its vocation as a participatory magazine, has called upon its network of loyal readers, supporters and reporters to gather an overview of issues that are relevant to scientists debated during the various campaigns across Europe. This article will give our readers food for thought by providing an overview and some anecdotal evidence of the debates that have taken place both in the mainstream press and in academic and research circles.

Predicting science policy outcomes with agent-based model

Today, investments in R&D—be it through higher education institutions or science-industry networks—are expected to immediately produce high commercial returns. Science policymakers, innovation managers, and even the public are often disappointed and raise legitimacy issues, when such returns fail to materialise promptly. These situations show the limits of conventional steering, control and policy making associated with research funding. Better solutions to help improve returns from research funding are therefore needed. Unfortunately, what is referred to as the science of science policy is still in its infancy.