HE News Brief 6.2.12

  • United States: Online education given a boost by ex-tenured professor at Stanford
  • Middle East: Increased participation in higher education has not translated to equality for women
  • Rankings: Musings on global rankings as they enter their ninth year
  • Global: FT releases its Global MBA rankings


Online education received a boost recently from former tenured professor of computer science at Stanford University, who quit his position in order to establish Udacity, a start-up company aiming to provide affordable online classes. With the US economy stagnating and tuition fees rising, the initiative is hailed by many as an important step toward levelling the opportunity for participation in higher education. Other free or low-cost online programmes are making a mark in the states, MIT offers an open platform for their lectures and have gone one step further by establishing MITx, which allows people to gain credentials.  Some argue that online education is the way forward for students looking for outcomes and that the model can be based on Amazon for example, where products, or in this case classes, or rated by users.
[alert_blue]Full Story: Washington Post[/alert_blue]

Women are increasingly attending universities in the Middle East, thanks to some Arab government’s goals in the 1990s to prioritise women’s participation in higher education. However after two decades of participation, women are still lagging behind in terms of attaining high-ranking positions in universities, and changing the perception of old gender stereotypes is still a challenge. Women are also pushed toward ‘feminine’ degrees such as the humanities and the social sciences.  Despite advances such as increased participation, over 50% in some universities in Saudi Arabia, attitudes and career advancement is still seen as far from equal.
[alert_blue]Full Story:  The Chronicle of Higher Education[/alert_blue]

As global rankings have reached its eight years in existence, University World News has released a retrospective of sorts.  Although measuring research can take on multiple incarnations – citations per paper, h-index, reputation, citations per faculty, publications – measuring teaching quality  has been less successful. Some systems are moving in the right direction such as the U-Multirank project which utilises student satisfaction surveys to measure teaching.  Other characteristics of global rankings which have become mainstays is a strong brand, and the importance of establishing itself first on the global stage. In addition, a trend moving forward is the importance of having an interactive platform for people to change the weightings applied to each indicator as students choosing their preferred university is a subjective experience.  The so-called missing indicator, some argue,  in global rankings is a measurement of students’ intelligence, an indicator used by the ubiquitous US News & World Report.
[alert_blue]Full Story:  University World News[/alert_blue]

The FT has recently released its Global MBA rankings with the Stanford Graduate School of Business topping the chart, followed by heavy-hitters Harvard Business, Wharton, LBS, and Columbia. Half of the list hail from the United States while schools in China are making inroads. Canada has five schools on the list, Spain and Singapore have three, and Hong Kong has two. Some notable entries include the Indian Institute of Management (11) and the National University of Singapore (23). The FT utilised different indicators for their rankings including graduate salaries, questionnaires and research measures.
[alert_blue]Full Story:  Australian [/alert_blue]

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