Tag Archives: Universities

How do we get young scientists to communicate science?

In the words of one of the 2017 PhD European Young Researcher Award winners, a scientist’s life often means “no fixed working hours, being switched on always, and yet getting paid only when you have a grant or a scholarship.” This opinion piece by Satyajit Rout from Editage, a science communication services company that supports researchers and institutions drive real-world scientific impact, delves into the challenges facing young scientists and suggests what could be done to change the status quo. Read more [...]

Quality check on the newer UK universities

The UK University league tables do not use scientific contribution as a core value of university competition at national level. To assess the relative performance of the newer UK universities created after 1992, following a government reform graduating technical colleagues to the status of universities, can be done by looking at their scientific output. In this article, Solomon Habtemariam, principal lecturer and leader of Pharmacognosy Research laboratories at the University of Greenwich, UK, assesses the scientific publication output, 25 years after the creation of these newer universities. This makes for a sobering reading to any other European countries who have brought newer universities on stream. Read more [...]

Heightened multi-lateral collaboration fever as Brexit mitigating strategy

Too much is at stakes in European science for people managing research—particularly in the UK—to leave it up to politicians to determine their future. Brexit or no Brexit, there are signs that further integration of the UK scientific activities into the European research fabric is underway. Indeed, universities across the UK are establishing new partnership deals in education and research with European and Commonwealth universities. Whether this move will allow UK research institutions to remain attractive to European collaborators remains to be seen. Read more [...]

Death in academia and the mis-measurement of science

Working in academia is not what it used to be. At least, when it comes to evaluation of work performance. Heightened and underhand pressure on academic performance, has led to the tragic death, last year, of an eminent professor from Imperial College, London, UK. Other academics across Europe have suffered the same fate, albeit these have only been documented anecdotally and did not receive the broader coverage English speaking publications affords. This raises questions concerning the pressures academics come under from academic institutions. These are run like businesses and are looking for unrealistic benchmarks, when it comes to research evaluation. Read more [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

Inflation on the price of knowledge: French universities boycott journals

How much is too much? For all the talk that the publishers of major journals such as Science, Nature and the Lancet are charging too much for their wares, it seems a limit has been reached. French universities, in particular, have had enough and are just saying “non!” and cancelling their journal subscriptions. Is this the wake-up call the big publishers need? Should other universities follow suit, researchers organise a wider boycott, or is there another way to make the journal oligarchs realise that enough is enough? 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 [...]