Posts Tagged ‘university’

Is it worth going to university? Part I (via CMPO Viewpoint)

August 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Matt Dickson So, you’ve got your A-level results and are now having to decide whether or not to go to university. On the one hand a degree should lead to higher wages throughout your lifetime but on the other there is the issue of having £27,000+ of student debts to pay off. So the big question: is it actually worth it? Economics studies that have addressed this directly suggest that, on average, a university degree is a worthwhile investment wit … Read More

via CMPO Viewpoint

Is it worth going to university? Part II (via CMPO Viewpoint)

August 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Matt Dickson The debate around the costs and benefits of attending university is, at present, very narrowly focused on expected earnings over the working lifetime (see my previous blog-post for example). However this debate needs to be broadened out. The returns to education in general and university in particular may be far wider than the private financial returns that are the focus of so much of the economics literature. For a start, to compare … Read More

via CMPO Viewpoint

Govt must avoid cuts in education spend – US tech giants (via Ninth Level Ireland)

September 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Govt must avoid cuts in education spend – US tech giants “Ireland’s Government must resist any temptation to make cuts in education spending if it wants to develop the smart economy, the American Chamber of Commerce has warned. It says Ireland is producing a higher standard of graduates and this must be sustained …” (more) [John Kennedy, Silicon Republic, 8 September] … Read More

via Ninth Level Ireland

Another University Ranking System – The Washington Monthly

Check out another university ranking system – this is for the USA only.

Below are the Washington Monthly‘s 2009 national university college rankings. We rate schools based on their contribution to the public good in three broad categories: Social Mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students), Research (producing cutting-edge scholarship and PhDs), and Service (encouraging students to give something back to their country). For an explanation of each category, click here. For more information about the overall goals of the rankings, click here. To learn more about our methodology, click here.

UC Berkeley is number one on this system, and Harvard (usually number 1 on other systems) falls to 11th place.  As ever, this shows the critical importance of the categories and weightings used in any ranking system. UCSD, UCLA, Stanford and Texas A&M make up places 2, 3, 4 & 5, respectively.

Full rankings here.

Roll-on the QS and THE rankings: it will be very interesting to see the strength of correlation between these two ranking systems.

How will Irish Universities perform in future world rankings? Prediction: slippage!

May 14, 2010 1 comment

There’s been a lot of comment (and a lot of skepticism) on this blog about the ‘meaning’ of university rankings. Issues regarding reliability and validity (e.g. predictive, construct, face, internal validity) of measurement, and a lack of attention to basic measurement theory, have been particularly discussed.

These rankings should not be taken be taken as some absolute measure of quality (however defined). As noted here previously, ‘ the nature of the variables measured and the weightings applied to them to generate the overall composite ranking makes a huge difference to the outcomes generated’.

But, these caveats aside, here is a simple prediction based on the Employment Control Framework. This demands ‘A minimum 6% reduction in the number of overall core staff … will be required across the HE sector by end of 2010, as compared with the numbers in place at 31 December 2008.’

The QS methodology (2009) gave a 20% weighting to the student faculty ratio and a further 5% based onthe  proportion of international faculty. The loss of academic staff at all levels is palpable in my own institution; I suspect the situation is no different in the other Irish universities. Reductions in staffing, without corresponding reductions in student numbers, inevitably lead an increase in the staff-student ratio. So, assuming nothing else changes, these reductions in staffing will result in a lower placement of our universities in international ranking systems that place a weight on staff:student ratios.

(As an aside, has no-one in Government wondered to themselves how the universities will deliver the Innovation Agenda, when staff numbers are dramatically and arbitrarily cut? Want to know why there is no Irish Google? It’s because there is no Irish Stanford! See also this post on science funding and the lack of an Irish Nokia.)

QS Rankings & Global Higher Education Trends – University Ranking Newsletter

April 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Understanding the QS Methodology
Nunzio Quacquarelli, Research Director for the QS World University Rankings™, gives the reasoning behind the methodology and answers frequently asked questions.
Read More

Recession and international student mobility
Many commentators predicted that international student mobility would fall as a result of the global recession, but the reverse may be true.
Read More

Comparing ranking systems
Martin Ince, executive member of the QS World University Rankings Advisory Board looks at the differences between the most influential university ranking systems in the world.
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QS Intelligence Unit Blog

Follow the latest news and developments from the QS Intelligence Unit at

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New developments

  • QS teams up with Nouvel Observateur for 2010 QS World University Rankings™
  • Read More
  • Some (apparently) counter-intuitive data: Hard choices in UK Public Policy: Fees harm access – a case of pub economics » Election experts

    April 21, 2010 1 comment

    Hard choices in UK Public Policy: Fees harm access – a case of pub economics » Election experts.

    It appears from UK data, that the introduction of fees for third-level, far from harming access to third-level education, actually has had no such effect. What are the chances of data and evidence of this type permeating public discussion of the fees issue in our hugely-underfunded third-level education system? Ideological commitments are one thing: the implications of data and evidence for educational policy are quite another.

    Blog post reproduced in full:

    No matter who forms the new government in May 2010, the new set of ministers will have to tackle the worst deficit in UK public finance for decades. The 2010 to 2015 period will inevitably require policy-makers and citizens to make some hard choices – either raising taxes or pruning spending on previously highly valued public services.

    In the third of our ‘Hard Choices’ series, Nicholas Barr looks at the arguments against free higher education.

    What I call ‘pub economics’ relates to something that is obviously right and everybody knows it’s right – but it’s wrong.  The argument that ‘free’ higher education widens participation is just such a case. The issue is contentious, so the government has set up a review (the Browne Review) to report after the election.  Till then, politicians will duck most questions on fees and loans, on the grounds that it would be wrong to pre-empt the review’s report.

    What’s wrong with Taxpayer finance?
    Taxpayer support for higher education should remain a permanent part of the landscape, but not on its own.

    • Tax finance does not widen participation.  Between 1960 and 1998, when there were no tuition fees, access hardly improved.
    • Taxpayer finance can harm access by leading to a shortage of places.  Even without the economic crisis, universities will lose out to the NHS, nursery education and school education.  And if  places are short, it is predictable who gets left out.
    • The people who go to university continue to be mainly from better off backgrounds.  Why should the taxes of the truck driver pay for the degree of the old Etonian?

    What are the real determinants of participation?
    To anyone who is serious about the evidence, one message stands out – it’s school attainment, stupid.  As a researcher into early child development tragically put it, ‘By the time they are eighteen, all the damage has been done’.  In 2002 (when students from poor backgrounds paid no fees), 81 per cent of children from professional backgrounds went to university; the comparable figure for children from manual backgrounds was 15 per cent (according to the UK Education and Skills Committee in 2002) – a shameful record.  Yet restricting the sample to young people with good A levels, the figure was roughly 90 per cent for both groups.

    Source: UK Office for National Statistics (2004), Focus on Social Inequalities, 2004 edition, London: TSO, Figure 2.15.

    The Figure makes this very clear.  The top pair of bars show that about 95 per cent of people with the best A levels went to university, with virtually no difference in participation between people from the top 3 socioeconomic groups (the lighter shading) and the bottom 3 (the darker shading).  For people with slightly less good A levels, the figure was 90 per cent.  The main driver of participation is a person’s prior attainment.

    What has happened since fees were introduced?
    A study by the Higher Education Funding Council for England on the effects of the introduction of fees offers powerful results that are worth quoting extensively:

    ‘ [T]here is no indication from the national-level trends that changes to HE tuition fees or student support arrangements have been associated with material reductions in the overall HE participation rate’ (para. 23).

    ‘Substantial, sustained and materially significant participation increases for the most disadvantaged areas across the 04:05 to 09:10 cohorts are found regardless of whether educational, occupational or income disadvantage is considered. Typically, young people from the 09:10 cohort living in the most disadvantaged areas are around +30 per cent more likely to enter higher education than they were five years previously (04:05 cohort), and around +50 per cent more likely to enter higher education than 15 years previously (94:95 cohort)’ (para. 28, emphasis added).

    ‘Trends in social statistics – such as HE participation rates – that are associated with deeply rooted differences in advantage do not usually show rapid change. A set of robustness and credibility checks give confidence that the analysis in this report is faithfully describing HE participation trends. In particular, the unusually rapid increases in HE participation recorded since the mid-2000s for young people living in disadvantaged areas are supported by changes in the GCSE attainment of the matching cohorts of young people ….’ (para. 31, emphasis added).

    These arguments are not just an exercise in academic logic chopping.  The argument that fees harm access makes the wrong diagnosis and therefore leads to the wrong prescription. The policy spends money on ‘free’ higher education instead of improving earlier education, providing more and better information, and raising aspirations, and thus spends money on a policy that does not work.

    Update: today’s Irish Times carries a story that there are 26,000 students in fee-paying second-level schools paying at least €6000 per annum. What does this say for capacity to pay fees at third-level?

    The Annual Sunday Times University Ranking for Ireland (yes, another university ranking system)

    April 18, 2010 1 comment

    Available online here – Ireland.

    Top three rankings: Trinity College, Dublin  (1); University College Dublin (2); University College, Cork (3).

    Note the closeness of the rankings derived from the scoring system used: the point spread between TCD and UCD is merely 4 points, using this ranking scheme. This closeness of relative positioning, of course, does not map well onto the THES-QS ranking spread, which is considerably greater (to choose just one of the many ranking systems available). Again, the nature of the variables measured and the weightings applied to them to generate the overall composite ranking makes a huge difference to the outcomes generated, as has been argued here many times.

    Education Matters » Ireland is ranked top of EU league table [for its Universities, no less] [Another ranking of university quality)

    April 14, 2010 Leave a comment

    Education Matters » Ireland is ranked top of EU league table. (reg req)

    A quote:

    Hard on the heels of the major furor about grade inflation, Irish Universities have been placed at the top of a European Union ‘efficiency’ league table.

    The report concludes that Ireland, Japan, Sweden, the UK and the Netherlands are at the top in terms of efficiency or to use the jargon “at the production possibility frontier”.

    The Irish Independent reports that, according to an EU study:

    * Irish graduates are the most highly employable in Europe;
    * Irish universities have the highest graduation rate in Europe;
    * Ireland has the highest percentage of graduates in Europe;
    * Universities in Ireland, Finland and Sweden are given the highest ‘excellence’ rating by academics in other EU countries.

    Universities in Ireland and the UK are regarded by recruiters as providers of the most employable graduates, the report states.

    It says also that considering their size, Finland, Ireland and Sweden are the countries with more universities regarded by their peers as being “excellent”.

    The Irish Economy » Blog Archive » University Heads on Research

    March 23, 2010 Leave a comment

    Nice post from irisheconomy (reproduced in full) on innovation.

    The Irish Economy » Blog Archive » University Heads on Research.

    University Heads on Research

    This post was written by John McHale

    The heads of UCD and Trinity reflect on the findings of the Innovation Taskforce is today’s Irish Times. I think they provide a timely clarification on the rationale for supporting university research. The idea that the purpose of research is to generate discrete technologies that can be commercialised by Irish firms has gained surprising currency. While this idea does get some empirical support from the literature on localised knowledge spillovers, it is too weak a foundation to support a costly investment programme. A more encompassing rationale includes the role of research—and particularly the integration of teaching and research—in ensuring the broad innovation capabilities of Irish graduates. Brady and Hegarty sum up this broader human capital rationale well:

    Read more…