HE News Brief 1.8.11

by Abby Chau

  • INTERNATIONAL: Webometrics has just launched its new results, plus a few tweaks in its methodology
  • UK: Competition between institutions for the best-performing students is raising eyebrows
  • BULGARIA: Institutions have won rights to set fees for Masters programmes and to audit foreign diplomas
  • INTERNATIONAL: The rankings debate continues with Ellen Hazelkorn, Reaganomics, and the notion of world-class
  • INTERNATIONAL: QS recently released its Subject Rankings in the Social Sciences
  • The team behind the Ranking Web of World Universities (Webometrics) has just released their latest findings. The league tables, which measures web presence as measured by Google, Yahoo Site Explorer, and Bing search engines as well as the availability of scholarly papers, has been around since 2004. This year there were several changes, most notably the use of a g-factor and the inclusion of Scimago data for papers and citations.  The top five all hail from the United States: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard, Stanford, Cornell, and UC Berkeley.
    Full Story:  Arab News
  • The Universities UK President Sir Steve Smith say allowing institutions to take on unlimited numbers of high-performing students is an effective way of not only boosting numbers of underprivileged students, but also acts as a way to check tuition fees. New proposals set by the government, as they watched the number of institutions set maximum fees rise week after week, would allow institutions to compete for the best students, and those institutions who do not attract high-performing students will risk losing their funding. Many are saying, including the general secretary of the University and College Union, Sally Hunt, that the government’s initiatives of creating intense competition between institutions is not the best way forward, particularly as the budget for higher education has been slashed by 80% and collaboration between universities is needed now more than ever.
    Full Story:  BBC News
    More: New Statesman
  • Universities in Bulgaria have won substantial power according to the amendments made in the Higher Education Act recently. Institutions will now be allowed to evaluate diplomas issued by foreign schools. Education Minister Sergey Ignatov says that this will eliminate red tape relating to translations and legal matters. In addition, universities will be able to set fees for Masters programmes. In the works is also the National Strategy for Development of Scientific Research, which seeks to provide 1.5% of GDP for investments in science and technology by 2020.
    Full Story:  Novinite.com
  • Excellence initiatives, which are governmental goals to create world-class institutions, launched in China, Finland, France, Germany, India, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Singapore, Vietnam among other countries is adding to the discussion on whether league tables are concentrating power in a few elite universities with deep pockets. Professor Ellen Hazelkorn, a vocal critic of league tables, says that putting resources in order to create ‘world-class institutions’ may be detrimental not only to the idea of higher education as a diverse and complex animal, but to the economy as technological advancement may be affected in the long run. Hazelkorn likens Reagan’s economic policy in the 80s, when the über rich got richer and the gap between the haves and have-nots continued to widen, to what could happen to higher education if the trend continues. Read QS’ response here.
    Full Story:  University World News
  • QS has recently released its results in the Social Sciences with London School of Economics placing ahead Oxford and Cambridge in Economics. Results in Sociology, Statistics, Politics, Law, and Accounting were also released. US power-players like Harvard, Stanford, and Yale populate the top 10 while institutions in the UK also round out the list like the London Business School which is placed at tenth position for accounting and finance.
    Full Story:  Guardian
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