Friday, February 03, 2017

New system for ranking universities

I don't quite see the point of it.  What's so good about "internationalness"? I would have thought that it impeded learning.  There was a Chinese law lecturer at my alma mater -- the University of Qld -- a few years ago who had to be sent on leave because the students couldn't understand a word of his "English"

Australia has achieved stellar ­results in a new league table of universities which has inverted the world order by ranking US institutions as also-rans.

Five Australian institutions claimed top-25 places in the Times Higher Education’s ranking of the most international universities, a new measure that takes account of the proportion of international staff and students and the strength of international reputations and cross-border ­research collaborations.

Australian National University claimed seventh spot, sandwiched between British heavyweights Oxford and Cambridge at sixth and eighth. Other local highlights included the universities of NSW (14th), Melbourne (18th), Monash (21st) and Sydney (24th). The table’s upper ranks are dominated by institutions in Britain, Australia and small trading hubs where English is widely spoken. Swiss institutions ETH Zurich and the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne claimed the top two places, followed by the University of Hong Kong and National University of Singapore.

The top 20 also includes institutions in Canada and France, but none in the US. Massachusetts Institute of Technology claimed 22nd space, followed by Harvard (33rd), Stanford (36th) and Princeton (37th). All four are in the top 10 of university rankings.

Analysts say the league table, compiled before the Trump presidency, is a sign of things to come as the US’s inward-looking stand isolates it from global talent pools. Britain’s international standing is also set to fall because of onerous visa settings and the withdrawal from the EU, and Australia is well placed to capitalise, they say.

ANU vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt, an American-born Nobel laureate, credited an external focus “built into our DNA” for the university’s success.

“We want to be able to bring expertise and knowledge from around the world to answer the big questions,” Professor Schmidt said. “We go after the best people. We’re in elite company and that gives us opportunities to go out and build on our strengths.”

Analyses have found that the average distance between collaborating researchers has more than quadrupled since 1980, and studies are now mostly cited in countries where they were not undertaken.

“It is simply not possible to achieve high levels of excellence without being open to the world,” ETH Zurich president Lino Guzzella said. “I know of no top university that does not have a substantial percentage of its ­faculty, students and workforce that are international.”

Malaysian-born Hoe Tan said there were 32 nationalities in ANU’s research school of physics, where he is deputy head. He said his own field of nanotechnology was “very internationalised”, with foreign collaborations boosting results and the prospects of ­commercialisation.

“Not only does it help in terms of research, but also in terms of the students’ experience,” ­Professor Tan said.

Times Higher Education World University Rankings editor Phil Baty said the US and Britain were sending out “powerful messages that are likely to deter international talent”.

“Australia is one of the key ­nations best placed to capitalise and bolster the overall performance of its universities,” he said.

Professor Schmidt said Australia’s international outlook helped counterbalance the “meagre resources” allocated to its universities. He said that while US institutions had far more resources their domestic focus worked against them.


High school from hell: Teachers have been BANNED from punishing students at school where mass brawls and dozens of arrests are now a part of every day life

In the midst of another graphic video of a brutal fight between teens at a Mississippi high school going viral, one teacher and a former student from have revealed how the bureaucracy apparently helps the regular mass brawls continue.

New policies at Terry High School in Hinds County 'deter teachers' at the school from punishing children who are involved in violent fights, one teacher, who did not want to be publicly identified, told WLBT.

The educator's comments come after the school was the scene of another vicious brawl on Monday that was caught on camera.

Officials say the most recent fight at the high school was a continuance of a brawl that happened on Friday during a basketball game. 

Hinds County Sheriff Victor Mason said the students involved in the altercation used to go to school together in Jackson, before transferring.

All six of the teens involved in the fight on Monday were arrested and charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct.

Former Terry High student, Melody Thompson, said that she had been involved in a fight while attending the school, but it was quickly broken up.

'I'll be honest, I was even in a fight in that cafeteria, and they immediately shut it down and we were in the principle's office within 30 seconds,' Thompson told WLBT.

But now Thompson said things have dramatically changed since she went to the school and not for the better. 

'They can't just send them to the office and have them written up or have them taken care of or go to detention,' Thompson stated.

'Like the teachers have to be there to monitor them for detention, they have to do the paperwork, and it's creating a workload that the teachers can't keep up with.'

Officials with the Hinds County School District say the high school has programs in place to offer session on bullying prevention and conflict resolution. 

However, another violent fight that occurred at the high school in September involved students who traded blows with staff members.

That brawl, which was also caught on video, apparently brought up long standing concerns among parents in regards to how their children are being punished by the school.

The shocking video from the September 2 fight shows a student repeatedly striking a school resource officer who was attempting to break-up a fight between two students, district officials told WJTV.

The dramatic 10-second clip also shows another school employee trying to intervene and protect the school resource officer by removing a student from the brawl.

Officials with the school district at the time said the employees followed the policy.

However, Danny Jones said he disagrees, as his 16-year-old daughter was arrested after she apparently tried to end the fight which was between other girls. 

'She was trying to be a good citizen and break up the fight. And it went bad from there. They started fighting and she had to fight back. The principal told us one thing but when it's time to go to court, he says something totally different,' Jones told WJTV days after the incident.

The father said he and his wife were upset with how the school handled the situation.

'He said that since she told she had been fighting she was part of the fight. He put her in there and said she was part of a group fight,' Jones said.

Charges against the teenager were eventually dropped, but she was suspended from the school.

In addition, back during the 2015 school year, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) said there were 31 arrests at the school.  

'That's a 400% increase of school based arrests over the past three years. And those arrests were by and large for willful disobedience or other subjectively defined offenses,' Lydia Wright, with the SPLC, told WJTV.

'Students weren't getting arrested for bringing weapons to school. Students weren't getting arrested for drugs on campus.

'Students were being arrested for typical adolescent misbehavior.'

The SPLC sent the school district a letter roughly a year requesting that the code of conduct be revised, but it's unclear if that change was made.  


Scotland: Education system is `failing poor pupils in all schools'

Researchers warned that the Scottish government was on course to miss a target for 20 per cent of new university entrants to come from the 20 per cent most deprived communities by 2030

The school a child from a poor background attends makes little difference to their chances of attending university.

The assumption that pupils from deprived areas become more motivated if they are educated with aspirational peers from richer backgrounds is misjudged, experts have found.

The University of Glasgow has warned that tens of thousands of youngsters are being written off and "disenfranchised from aspiration" because efforts to increase participation in higher education are focused on schools where fewer pupils go on to attend university.

The report's authors claim that the present policy means that poorer pupils who attend more academically successful institutions are generally ignored. A disparity in academic success based on background is also far more stark in schools where large numbers progress to university.


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