Tag Archives: Career

For the sake of Italian science and culture

Italian scientific research and university systems are in a dramatic position. The poisonous fruit of the recently approved university reform—referred to as the Gelmini law— assisted by the actions of successive governments, are reaching their goal: downsizing the university system and introducing a political control, never attempted before, on basic research. Now a vast movement of researchers across Europe is organising a series of initiatives during the autumn with the aim of bringing research and innovation to the public attention and at the centre of governments’ action. Read more [...]

Streamlining immigration procedures for scientists

Just about every research institution wants to be international and attract researchers from overseas. If foreign researchers are coming to a country it shows that its research system is healthy, and is doing work worth participating in. International mobility, whether to attend conferences or for research visits, is considered important to smooth the exchange of information, and is essential to doing good science. But while there is much universities and research institutions can do to encourage international mobility, some things outside their control can work to prevent it. Immigration policy is one example. Read more [...]

French scientists get on their bikes for research

French research is in trouble. A protest movement has arisen from the ranks of research centres and universities to protest against what French scientists consider a progressive assault on research funding, jobs and autonomy by successive French administrations. Research activists from Montpellier have devised a very French response to this problem: marching out on the street—albeit this time with a twist. From the 27th September 2014, the grassroots movement Sciences en Marche, will see researchers march on Paris. They are planning to arrive in the French capital on 18th October, having bicycled in stages from labs all over France. Read more [...]

Consolidation in the voice of researchers in Europe to defend working conditions

For the first time, active science researchers to have a unified voice representing them on an EU and international level. Indeed, the two major umbrella researcher representative associations in Europe have just signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU), announced on 19th June 2014. It enables both organisations to act together to represent the interests of researchers at European level. Previously, independent efforts of the two associations to represent the interest of researchers were limited and lacked coordination in defending the interests of the entire research community. Read more [...]

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. Read more [...]

University rankings: not that simple

Dear Editor, I was fascinated to read Janna Degener’s interesting piece on university rankings. Rankings are an endlessly interesting subject. It is important to understand why they exist. At a superficial level, they are designed to sell copies of magazines that publish them, or advertising in these publications, or are a commercial undertaking in some other way. More fundamentally, they owe their existence to competition and market forces. World rankings illustrate this point. Read more [...]

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. Read more [...]

Germany: the career challenges of a single academic track

A recent petition seeking government support to establish more permanent jobs and to limit the number of short term contracts in science and technology positions in Germany has already gathered over 10,000 signatures. It was initiated on 7th March 2014 by a German scientist called Sebastian Raupach, who wrote a letter addressed to the vice chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, and to the country’s federal minister for education and research, Johanna Wanke. This petition reflects the growing unrest among scientists regarding the limited career path in Germany. Read more [...]

What makes universities attractive to international students?

Demand for university education is on the decrease, mainly due to demographic factors. This trend, combined with a rise in the breadth of diversity of the educational offer, has caused an increase in competition within the higher education sector of Western European countries. Competition is happening, both nationally and internationally. It is therefore essential to understand the factors determining the international demand for higher education. Read on... Read more [...]

Sexual harassment’s insidious nature makes it persistent

Examples of men who are really interested beyond professional boundaries in one of their – often clearly younger – female colleagues are widespread. Typically, the men do not want to accept these women’s refusals and start harassing them. Often, the trouble is that the harassment is underhand. One difficulty is that there is a fine line between providing compliments and harassing someone, often due to cultural differences. Although women are mostly affected, men are also victims of sexual harassment. Read more [...]

Pupils’ exposure to real-life science applications could sway their career choice

A recent study analyses the views of secondary school pupils from 21 countries on their engagement with STEM subjects in and outside school, and includes their career choices. All countries represented are involved in the inGenious project, an EU-funded platform aiming to promote school-industry collaboration on STEM education. Read more [...]