Excellence schemes help top universities get better
By Martin Ince. Every ranking of the world’s top universities agrees on one thing: the United States and the United Kingdom have the institutions that are best at finishing near the top. It is one thing for the US to be in this position, given its economic and cultural power and its dominance of world research and innovation. But it is a little more surprising to find the UK up there, given its peripheral role in Europe, let alone the world at large.
Several possible reasons have been suggested for US and British dominance of the rankings. The natural advantage they gain from the English language is often mentioned, although it does not seem to have done Irish universities much good. But most observers prefer a different explanation. They point out that most UK and US research funding finds its way into a small number of institutions. In Britain there are the 20 Russell Group universities, and in the US the big hitters of New England and California, plus a few others such as Chicago, Michigan and Texas. But is this explanation true? It seems we now have a series of natural experiments that suggest it is.
In recent years, countries all over the world have been focusing their research spending on a narrow range of favoured universities. Most conspicuous is Germany’s Excellence Initiative, which had a budget of €1.9 billion (US$2.4 billion) from 2005 to 2012 and is set to commit another €2.5 billion next month. This cash has gone into a range of measures, including building up nine universities as German research leaders.
In collaboration with Angela Yung-Chi Hou of Fu Jen University in Taipei and her colleague Chung-Lin Chiang, I have just published a paper on these excellence programmes in the journal Scientometrics, and the executive summary is that they work. The paper’s focus is on excellence programmes in East Asia, concentrating on China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. These initiatives have a variety of titles: the 985 Project (China), Brain Korea 21 (Korea), Global 30 (Japan) and 5 Year, 5 Billion (Taiwan). Their budgets total nearly US$13 billion. While some such schemes are new, such as Malaysia’s Accelerated Program for Excellence, which started in 2008, others are longer established. China began the 985 programme, whose best-known effect is the creation of the C9 elite group of universities, in 1998.
This means that the criticism that world university rankings have caused governments to concentrate research funding is invalid, as they began only in 2003 with the Academic Ranking of World Universities ranking from Shanghai Jaio Tong University. But there can be little doubt that the visibility of rankings to politicians and university managers has increased pressure for resources to be focused more narrowly. I believe that the concentration of resources and the existence of the rankings both arise from global competition in knowledge production and in labour markets.
Our analysis shows that between 2005 and 2010, Chinese output of academic papers more or less doubled, Korea and Taiwan were 58% ahead, and Japanese output fell slightly. But all four nations had drastically more citations of the papers they produced – 55% for China and 21% even for Japan. A specific look at Taiwan shows that the five years surveyed saw a big increase of papers in journals catalogued in the Science and Social Science citations indices, and a 129% increase in highly cited papers. Almost all this growth took place in universities receiving excellence funding. However, it is possible for institutions that receive small amounts of money to grow unexpectedly fast. An example is Chang Gung University in Taiwan.
Progress in more than increased output
More interestingly perhaps, this cash also allowed universities to make progress in more transformative ways than a simple increase in output. Taiwanese universities getting excellence funding attracted more full-time and exchange students from overseas, held more international conferences, did more international collaboration, and increased their body of international scholars by 700%, from 182 people to 1,276. Looking more widely, we found that Korea’s overseas student body grew from 15,000 to 40,000 students over the five years. The leading regional nation for overseas students, Japan, was static at about 240,000 for the whole period.
A specific aim of the Taiwanese programme was to get more academic research into industrial and social use. In fact, university income from intellectual property rose threefold over the five years in question. Over the period we examined, the Chinese presence in all world rankings of universities increased dramatically, that of Korean and Taiwanese universities grew a little, while Japanese representation shrank a little. However, Japan still had as many world-class universities as the other three put together at the end of the period we examined, with about 30 in the top 500 of each major ranking system.
The overall message? Excellence schemes help top universities to get better. They also encourage the sort of improvements that help with university ranking. But it would be wrong to assume that spending money in this way will push a nation’s universities far up the rankings. Excellence funding is more likely to reinforce their existing position in a competitive market than it is to push them much higher. Despite the rankings ambitions of many East Asian nations, there is very little sign of their universities challenging the Anglo-American dominance of the top slots.
The example of Japan suggests that it is hard for an established, successful nation to get a lot better in the rankings, and we expect the steep Chinese rise in the rankings to stabilise at some point rather than continuing unabated.
* Martin Ince chairs the advisory board for the QS World University Rankings and founded the Times Higher-QS rankings. The full Scientometrics study can be found here.
Educators Debate Negative Effects of International Rankings on Latin American Universities
The conference, "Latin American Universities and the International Rankings: Impact, Scope, and Limits," brought together 74 leaders of public and private universities from around Latin America, as well as representatives from some of the world's principal organizations that rank institutions of higher learning. The conference focused largely on the negative consequences that comparisons based on global rankings can have on Latin American universities, especially when used by the news media and governments to evaluate a university's overall performance. Participants said such a focus could affect not only universities' ability to attract students but also the public financing they receive.
Imanol Ordorika, the academic coordinator of the conference and director general of institutional evaluation at the National Autonomous University, recalled how several years ago his university found itself in an adversarial relationship with Mexico's Congress. The fact that the institution had a relatively high position in international rankings at the time played a significant role in keeping its financing at healthy levels.
"The problem is that when you go down in the rankings, the media can be critical, and policy makers view you negatively," he said. That is the case, he said, even when a drop in the rankings has nothing to do with performance but rather a change in the ranking's methodology or other universities' improvement in weighted indicators. Latin America has faired poorly in the global rankings. Though 8.5 percent of the world's people live in the region, only 11 of the world's top 500 universities—2.2 percent—are in Latin America, according to the most recent edition of Shanghai Jiao Tong University's closely watched Academic Ranking of World Universities. Only three universities from the region—the University of São Paulo, the State University of Campinas, in Brazil, and the Catholic University of Chile—make the top 400 universities in the Times Higher Education ranking, with the University of São Paulo placing highest, at 178.
Participants at the meeting here said that less-than-impressive showing was a reflection of the rankings' bias toward elite universities in the English-speaking world, which have lots of money to spend on natural sciences, medicine, and engineering. Most of the rankings, they pointed out, give a great weight to the number of publications and citations in bibliographical databases like the Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge and SciVerse Scopus, where English-language articles in science dominate, or, in the case of the Shanghai ranking, to the number of Nobel Prizes awarded to alumni and faculty. But that methodology neglects the strengths of many Latin American universities in teaching, the social sciences, and the humanities, and in the training of future government leaders and the development of national institutions and culture, they said.
Rankings could also affect a university's core mission in reducing inequality and poverty. The Federal University of ABC, in the state of São Paulo, for example, was founded in 2006 with a mission to help lower- and middle-income students from Brazil's academically weak public schools gain access to higher education. The university reserves half its places for such students and spends much of its budget on scholarships for them. But there is talk now in Brazil's federal system of using rankings as a criterion for government financing, and the university's rector, Helio Waldman, is nervous. "Because we are committed to social inclusion, as well as academic excellence, we have to be less selective and spend less money on scientific research in favor of scholarships. If we are forced to emphasize our positions in the rankings, we might have to sacrifice that commitment."
Phil Baty, editor of the rankings for Times Higher Education, said readers of the rankings should keep in mind that The Times was looking at a particular type of institution. It would be a mistake, he said, for governments to not look at broader sets of data. "It wouldn't be appropriate for an extremely large, regional, teaching-focused university to be ranked with a set of criteria that are really designed for the globally competitive, research-intensive ones. You have to examine in detail what the indicators are and what they really show and draw on a wider range of materials in making decisions."
Nonetheless, global rankings can "hypnotize" policy makers in developing nations and make them forget that the rankings favor universities from wealthy countries with the resources to do high-end research in science, said Simon Marginson, a professor of higher education at the University of Melbourne. That is a mistake, he said. For those nations without fully industrialized economies, rankings do not provide a competition based on merit.
"Until a nation has the economic capacity to sustain a broad scientific infrastructure, it should use regional rankings and local benchmarks to drive improvement. Not global rankings," he said.
Les think tanks IFFRES à présent sur Viadeo et LinkedIn
L’IFFRES a mis en place des groupes en lien avec différents think tanks sur les réseaux Viadeo et LinkedIn et vous pouvez dès à présent les rejoindre!
Ces groupes d’échange sont publics, vous pouvez par conséquent apporter votre contribution et inviter toutes les personnes susceptibles d’être intéressées par ce sujet de réflexion.
De plus, les principaux contributeurs de chaque groupe bénéficieront d’une invitation gratuite pour le colloque IFFRES 2012 qui aura lieu à Paris les 15 et 16 novembre. Ce colloque aura pour thème: « La crise: une opportunité pour les fondations de Recherche et de l’Enseignement Supérieur? ».
Vous trouverez la liste des six groupes et les liens ci-dessous:
Comment le fundraising s’adapte-t-il à la crise à l’étranger? => Rejoindre le groupe sur Viadeo et/ou LinkedIn
Etude sur le mécénat des entreprises dans la recherche et l’enseignement supérieur => Rejoindre le groupe sur Viadeo et/ou LinkedIn
Les best practices (Apprendre et Partager les expériences concrètes) + Elaboration Charte du Mécénat et des Relations entreprises pour la Recherche & l’Enseignement Supérieur => Rejoindre le groupe sur Viadeo et/ou LinkedIn
Soutenir l’innovation dans les TPE-PME => Rejoindre le groupe sur Viadeo et/ou LinkedIn
Quelle organisation et quels profils pour mettre en œuvre les IDEX, LABEX, IRT, IHU, FCS et autres fondations? => Rejoindre le groupe sur Viadeo et/ou LinkedIn
Développer l’entreprenariat et l’innovation chez les jeunes et les étudiants => Rejoindre le groupe sur Viadeo et/ou LinkedIn.
The IFFRES established groups in connection with various think tanks on Twitter and LinkedIn networks, and now you can join them! These exchange groups are public, therefore you can make your contribution and invite all persons who may be interested in this topic discussion. More...
Erasmus at 25: what is the future for international student mobility?
The Erasmus Programme was initiated by the European Commission 25 years ago, in a time that the commission didn't even have a mandate on education. The community only had 11 members and the Iron Curtain was still present. Humble beginnings aside, 25 years on, the programme continues to have a great impact on the development of Europe and its higher education.
In 1987, 3,244 students spent part of their studies in another member country. Three million students have followed their example in the past 25 years and the number of countries has grown from 11 to 33, including non-EU members such as Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Turkey and Switzerland. The budget of the programme for the period 2007-2013 is €3.1bn.
More than in numbers of mobile students, the impact of the programme has been on the internationalisation and the reform of higher education. Erasmus has paved the way for the reform of European higher education under the Bologna Process, has been a pilot for its study point scheme ECTS, and was an initiator for the opening up to countries in central and eastern Europe to EU-membership, as it is for current aspiring candidate members. The programme stimulated both national governments and institutions of higher education to develop European and international strategies.
The proposal by the European Commission for a new "Erasmus for all" programme reflects this global approach to Erasmus and the ambition of the commission to extend the scope and targets of the programme: an additional five million students studying abroad between 2014 and 2020. Even in the UK – which has always been a small player in the programme due to the imbalance between continental students interested in studying in the UK and the limited mobility aspirations of British students (twice as many Erasmus students study in the UK than go from the UK to the continent to study) and the priority of recruitment of students as an income source - the interest for the programme is growing.
On 22 March 2012, the House of Lords European Union Committee released a publication on The Modernisation of Higher Education in Europe. The report expresses concern on the low levels of UK student outward mobility, and proposes that universities and the commission should promote mobility opportunities and make Erasmus placements more flexible. While the Bologna ministers of education in their recent biannual meeting in Bucharest kept firm to their aspiration to have 20% mobility, the figures though are showing a different picture. In most countries the number of mobile students is still below 5%. There is an increased concern about the focus on numbers and percentages, which moves away from the need to concentrate on the content and the quality of the international experience.
Student mobility – and internationalisation of higher education as such – is not a goal in itself but a means to enhance the quality of the educational experience and the international learning outcomes of the students. In the early years of the Erasmus programme, the enthusiasm of faculty – encountering their colleagues, learning about their curricula and teaching methods – was driving the success and the impact of the Erasmus programme. Erasmus has moved away from those inspiring days and has become too much a bureaucratic exercise, in which only numbers count. If the Erasmus programme would find something back of its focus on curriculum and learning outcomes of the past, not only it will enhance the quality of the experience but also will increase the interest of the faculty and the students, and as a result of that the numbers.
Hans de Wit is professor of internationalisation of higher education at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, and director of the Centre for Higher Education Internationalisation at the Catholic University in Milan.
Retours d’expériences sur l’évaluation
Dans une perspective d’amélioration continue de son processus d’évaluation, l’AERES a souhaité, par la mise en place de retours d’expériences, recueillir l’avis des principaux acteurs concernés.
Ces retours d’expériences, portant sur l’évaluation des établissements de la campagne 2010-2011 (vague B), se sont articulés en plusieurs étapes:
* L’organisation d’une enquête de satisfaction (fin 2011) auprès des établissements évalués;
* La réalisation d’une analyse à partir de l’exploitation conjointe:
- des résultats de l’enquête;
- des observations des présidents/directeurs d’établissement en réponse au rapport d’évaluation de l’AERES ;
* La concertation avec les acteurs au cours de trois rencontres réunissant respectivement les présidents/directeurs d’établissement (45 établissements représentés), les tutelles et les présidents de comité de visite ayant conduit l’évaluation. Les échanges ont porté sur trois thèmes:
- les évolutions du processus d’évaluation externe (phase amont, visite, phase aval);
- l’utilisation et l’utilité de l’évaluation par les établissements et les parties prenantes;
- les repères pour l’autoévaluation d’un établissement.
L’AERES a retenu trois grands objectifs: renforcer la méthodologie de l’évaluation, mieux outiller les experts et améliorer la qualité des relations AERES-Etablissement en amont et en aval de l’évaluation. Parmi les premiers projets de l’AERES prévus au décours de ces rencontres, citons l’élaboration d’un guide de l’autoévaluation en 2012, en concertation avec des représentants des établissements (universités, écoles et instituts, organismes) et de leurs tutelles.
Un questionnaire de satisfaction dédié aux présidents et aux experts des comités de visite viendra également compléter cette démarche d’amélioration continue pour les prochaines campagnes.
3 - Synthèse des commentaires du questionnaire
Les commentaires ont été analysés en distinguant les commentaires positifs et ceux signalant des difficultés, de nature et d’importance variables: la première catégorie est moins nombreuse que la seconde car elle concerne des appréciations plus globales; alors que les répondants ont pris soin de justifier avec toutes les précisions utiles des appréciations négatives. Les commentaires positifs, très comparables pour les universités et écoles, sont présentés ensemble alors que les difficultés le sont séparément.
Les établissements n’ont pas tous accordé la même attention aux commentaires permettant de justifier leurs réponses au questionnaire: cette rubrique est souvent non renseignée. Les universités produisent moins de commentaires que les écoles et instituts. Il apparait ainsi que, si les universités se sont largement exprimées sur l’ensemble de la procédure dans les réponses des présidents, les écoles et instituts ont réservé leurs remarques au cadre du questionnaire. De plus, il faut noter que le groupe des écoles est hétérogène, ce qui peut expliquer les apparentes contradictions de leurs réponses.
Ønsker du at den løbende forbedring af den evalueringsproces, AERES ønsket, ved indførelse af feedback, få feedback fra centrale aktører.
Disse feedbacks, om evalueringen af institutioner i 2010-2011 sæsonen (bølge B), struktureret blev i flere etaper:
* Tilrettelæggelsen af en tilfredshedsundersøgelse (sent 2011) med de evaluerede institutioner;
* Gennemføre en analyse fra den fælles drift:
- Resultaterne af undersøgelsen;
- Observationer af formændene / skoleledere i svar på evalueringsrapporten AERES;
* Høring af berørte parter i løbet af tre møder med henholdsvis formænd / skoleledere (45 institutioner er repræsenteret), guardianships og udvalgsformænd fra førende vurderingen besøget. Drøftelserne var koncentreret om tre temaer:
- Ændringer i den eksterne evaluering processen (indledende fase, besøg, senere fase);
- Brugen og nytten af evaluering af institutioner og interessenter;
- Benchmarks for selvevaluering af en institution. Mere...
Evaluating the ‘Mobility Mapping Tool’
From 3 to 4 May, 30 universities participating in the pilot of the MAUNIMO project – Mapping University Mobility of Staff and Students – gathered at the University of Trento, Italy, to discuss the testing of the Mobility Mapping Tool (MMT), a self-evaluation tool designed by EUA and its project partners.
The 30 universities participating in the evaluation seminar in Trento reported on their personal experiences in testing the Mobility Mapping Tool and specific approaches they took to adapt it to their own contexts, needs and resources. Some institutions received feedback from as many as 160 individuals in the university on the questionnaire, whereas others took a more targeted approach, disseminating it only to certain departments or certain representative individuals. In general, though there was a variety of criticism and feedback on how to improve the MMT, almost all institutions agreed that the MMT helped to raise awareness of the importance and complexity of mobility. Some institutions even stated that they would use the process to help revise their internationalisation strategies.
Over the next months, the Mobility Mapping Tool will be revised and re-developed according to the feedback of the pilot universities so it can be made available to a wider university audience. Key policy messages on how universities are presently strategising around mobility will be summarised in a project publication and promoted at a final conference at the University of Oslo, Norway, from 4 to 5 September. Registration for this event will be launched at the end of May (and will be announced in the EUA newsletter). For more information about MAUNIMO, which is co-funded by the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Commission, visit the project website.
Nombre d'Européens portent des ressources et des talents inexploités. Certains seniors, alliés à des jeunes dynamiques, souhaiteraient reprendre ou créer une entreprise en mobilisant leur expérience et leur compétence, ainsi que leur capacité financière.
Créer des entreprises qui réuniraient des associés seniors représentant les principales fonctions de direction et de gouvernance. Atout majeur pour obtenir des financements.
L'association Seniors Entrepreneurs vise à créer une plate-forme de contacts entre seniors aux compétences complémentaires et avec des jeunes motivés. Le partage des risques et des responsabilités devient alors un atout dans le contexte économique actuel.
En plus de la transmission des expériences entrepreneuriales, la motivation des moins de 40 ans leur offre la possibilité de devenir les futurs associés repreneurs de ces sociétés.
Seniors Entrepreneurs apporte un service innovant.
Notre réseau veut s'ouvrir aux Seniors et aux Juniors attirés par l'aventure de l'entreprise, comme porteur d'un projet, associé ou conseiller ou opérationnel.
Les seniors actifs et entreprenants représentent un potentiel économique inexploité très important, plusieurs études récentes le confirment.
Cette action contribue à soutenir l'activité économique et à créer des emplois dans une démarche intergénérationnelle. Le Président, Guy Mariaud.
Mange europæere er ressourcer og uudnyttet talent. Nogle seniorer, kombineret med dynamiske unge, ønsker at vende tilbage eller starte en virksomhed ved at udnytte den erfaring og ekspertise, samt deres finansielle kapacitet. Mere...