Saturday, March 12, 2011

World's top 100 universities 2011: their reputations ranked by Times Higher Education

Harvard University ranks highest in the world according to the Times Higher Education for reputation in teaching and research.
The US boasts the most reputable universities in the world according to a new global reputation ranking out today.

The list published today by the Times Higher Education, is the first of its kind looking solely at the reputations of institutions for teaching and research. Harvard comes top closely followed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) beating both Oxford and Cambridge universities.

The US dominates with seven universities in the top ten and a massive 45 in the total rankings. Taking 12 of the places in the top 100, the UK is second to the US with Cambridge university beating Oxford. Imperial College, University College London (UCL), London School of Economics and Edinburgh University also make the top 50.

The rankings based on a survey of 13,388 academics over 131 countries is the largest evaluation of academic reputation and is used partly used in indicators for compiling the well-known Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

The rankings also show Japan beating Canada, Australia and Germany with the flagship, University of Tokyo, at eighth place making it the only other nation apart from the US and UK to feature in the top ten.

With university fees rocketing and more applicants fighting for places, university reputation is set to be an even bigger focus for prospective students.

Phil Baty, editor of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, said: "In an ever more competitive global market for students, academics and university administrators a university's reputation for academic excellence is crucial."

More HERE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

Back to basics: British education boss sweeps aside 102 'woolly standards' teachers are expected to meet in bid to weed out the incompetent

TEACHING standards will be overhauled to remove incompetent teachers, Michael Gove said yesterday. In a scathing attack, the Education Secretary said the current skills required of teachers are ‘woolly, meaningless and fluffy’ concepts.

Of the 102 so-called standards, just two state the need for good ‘subject and curriculum knowledge’. Four focus on health and safety and three on a ‘commitment to co-operative learning’. Other immeasurable targets include ‘a creative and constructive approach towards innovation’.

Mr Gove, launching a review of teachers’ standards, said he would axe the myriad of current skills required and replace them with a small ‘rigorous’ core. Teachers who do not meet these standards will be axed. The move will make it far easier for heads to sack bad teachers. It will also make it harder to qualify, ensuring only the best enter the profession.

The radical move will be the first major overhaul of standards in more than two decades.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Association of School and College Leaders, Mr Gove said: ‘We need to make sure those already in the classroom are continuously improving. ‘Headteachers have told me in no uncertain terms that standards are ineffective, meaningless and muddy, fluffy concepts.’

Since few of the standards are measurable, it is hard for heads to sack poor teachers on the grounds that they have failed to meet them.

Mr Gove said a ‘simple and clear set of skills’ – of which there will be fewer than ten – will ensure teachers have a thorough knowledge of their subject, good literacy and numeracy and can crack down on bad behaviour. The new standards will be imposed in September 2012.


Australia: Funding is not the cause of indigenous educational failure

But better teaching would make a difference

MY School confirms that funding is not the cause of indigenous educational failure. Take two schools in very remote Australia, 20km apart: in 2009, the indigenous school received recurrent funding of almost $33,000 a student, while the mainstream school received about $21,000 for each student.

Despite the 50 per cent additional funding, the indigenous school's Year 5 National Assessment Program: Literacy and Numeracy reading result (typical of all of its results) was a failure rate of 92 per cent. The nearby non-indigenous school had a failure rate of 12 per cent.

These rates are representative of the higher funding but dramatically lower literacy and numeracy performance of indigenous schools.

School size is also not the reason for educational failure. Many small non-indigenous schools perform well and some of the worst performing indigenous schools have large enrolments. For example a very remote indigenous school with more than 420 students (with recurrent funding of $25,600 a student) had reading failure rates of 96 per cent in Year 5 and 89 per cent in Year 7. In 2009, only one of their students completed senior secondary school; no student was awarded a senior secondary certificate.

More than 150 indigenous schools (with more than 80 per cent indigenous students) dominate the lowest literacy and numeracy results for Australia's 9500 schools.

They are mainly in the remote homelands and townships of NT, Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia. Few of the students in these schools achieve the minimum NAPLAN literacy and numeracy national standards.

They leave school early, unable to read, write or count, and without the other skills necessary to get a job. Few of those who stay on through Year 12 learn enough to be able to get a job or to go on to further education.

In some 40 NT homeland learning centres, with a total enrolment of about 1000 students, classes do not even have qualified teachers five days a week. Few of their students could read the NAPLAN questions, let alone pass the tests.

Their parents receive Commonwealth Assistance for Isolated Children payments as compensation for the Territory not providing a school for these children. The continuation of these pretend schools is shameful for Australia.

Some states are responding to poor NAPLAN results. The Queensland Department of Education is a partner in Noel Pearson's Cape York Partnership academies in Aurukun, Coen and Hope Vale. These academies implement rigorous "direct education" in the classroom. This is combined with after-school cultural, sporting and other "club" activities. The Cape York Family Responsibilities Commission is supporting these schools.

While it is too early to see the results in NAPLAN tests, the academies have achieved a remarkable rise in attendance in response to improved classroom teaching.

The Northern Territory Department of Education has the worst literacy and numeracy results in Australia. Yet it continues to protect its own schools by refusing to approve qualified independent schools. The Territory receives large amounts of additional commonwealth funding, which it spends on fashionable feel-good programs that have no effect in the classroom. Until it focuses on improved classroom teaching, including phonics, the gap between its indigenous schools and mainstream Australian education will continue to widen.

Indigenous attendance continues to be a difficult issue while sub-standard schools and poor teaching methods remain in place. In remote communities, the lack of role models and the absence of jobs lead to the view that education does not matter.

The absence of jobs and decent houses leads to high mobility that is a principal cause of low school attendance.

The commonwealth is trying to improve attendance by penalising welfare recipients whose children do not attend school, but the Territory's attendance rhetoric, blaming parents for not sending their children to school, is not matched by results.

The most important contributor to low attendance is the absence of good teaching. Where effective schools operate, attendance is high. Schools such as Coen on Cape York are achieving full attendance; independent Djarragun College in Queensland and independent indigenous schools in the Territory have consistently high attendance.

The many indigenous parents in remote Australia concerned about their children's education have known for years that their children are not learning to read, write and count or acquiring the other skills they need to get a job.

Their fears have now been confirmed by the revamped My School website, although few remote indigenous parents can read it. These parents - although they are themselves the victims of the absence of schooling - know that like indigenous health and housing, throwing taxpayers' money at indigenous education is not a substitute for reform.

Whatever costs and benefits the My School website has created for mainstream schools, for indigenous education My School data are critical to fixing schools in indigenous communities.

The absence of literacy, numeracy, humanities, social and natural sciences and other life skills that mainstream schools teach, are a key contributor to the dysfunction of remote communities. A meaningful job and decent housing are the right of every Australian. They are not achievable without a mainstream education.


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