Friday, June 09, 2017

Global university rankings: one Australian university makes the top 20

The good performance of ANU is no big surprise.  It is Australia's most lavishly funded Uni.  It basically can afford any faculty members it wants.  Still, Australia is a small community on the world stage so to rank so highly out of thousands of universities worldwide is a considerable  achievement

It may be worth noting what the QS rankings are based on.  They are reputational rankings.  They tell us how highly a university is thought of.  That is important information but rankings of academic output are possibly more important.  The Leiden ranking is notable for the latter.  Several Australian universities get into the top 50 according to Leiden but the ANU is not among them.  It is way down at 191.  That does suggest the the high reputation of the ANU might not be fully deserved

By contrast, the fact that University of Sydney, University of Melbourne and University of Queensland score highly in both sets of rankings is persuasive. It indicates a deserved high reputation for them.  As I am a graduate of two of those three I am pleased about that. I think it is clear that the teaching there is world-class

One Australian university is among the world's top 20 universities and five are in the top 50, according to a major global ranking that shows Australian universities have made overall improvements in all measures, including teaching, employability and research.

The University of Sydney was the only Australian university to drop down the list, slipping four places from 46, while six of Australia's top universities improved in their rank from last year.

Australian National University is the highest ranked in the country at 20th place in the 2018 QS World University Rankings.

It is followed by the University of Melbourne, ranked at 41, the University of New South Wales at 45, the University of Queensland at 47 and the University of Sydney at 50.

Belinda Robinson, chief executive of peak sector body Universities Australia, said the ranking is especially important to international students choosing a university.

"Global rankings are a major factor for many international students in deciding where to study, so they're also very important to the $22.4 billion a year that international students bring into Australia's economy," Ms Robinson said.

"These impressive rises underscore the global competitiveness of Australia's universities and the excellent quality of our education and research on the world stage."

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is the top ranked university in the world for the sixth consecutive year, followed by Stanford University, Harvard University, the California Institute of Technology, the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford, University College London, Imperial College London, the University of Chicago and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

MIT has been described as "the nucleus of an unrivalled innovation ecosystem" by QS Quacquarelli Symonds, the education analysis firm behind the ranking, which notes that companies created by the university's alumni have a combined revenue of $2 trillion, the equivalent of the world's 11th largest economy.

Despite the ongoing dominance of US and UK universities in the top 10, QS Quacquarelli Symonds also notes that many other universities from those countries are now being outperformed by "the best of Australia, Russia, China, Singapore and India – among others".


Why up to half of all Australian teachers are quitting within five years

As a former High School teacher I cannot relate to the "cri de coeur" below at all.  I had no time pressures whatever. I just taught from the textbook and got my students excellent results that way.  But I concede that it may be different in Primary School

Everyone remembers the nerves on their first day of school, but Margaret Gordon had it especially tough. The 22-year-old was made to stand up in front of the entire assembly at her school on the NSW Central Coast and introduced by the principal as "Miss Gordon, who has just graduated from Sydney University".

Ten minutes later, the new primary school teacher was shown to a classroom full of year 2 students.

"It just felt like the workload snowballed," Miss Gordon, now 25, said. "Early on, I was at school by 8 every morning and I'd leave hopefully by 6pm when the cleaners kick you out, and weekends would just be planning and gathering resources.

"There would maybe be a little bit of time in there for grocery shopping."

She has since learnt to manage the workload and recovered her weekends, but for many of her fellow early career teachers the transition from study to work never becomes any easier.

Up to half of all Australian teachers are leaving the profession in the first five years, and new research conducted by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health suggests the problem could be in the way the school day is structured.

Of the 453 teachers surveyed across NSW, two-thirds identified time management and having too much work as their biggest challenge, and more than half said they wanted more time for collaboration, mentoring and planning.

"One of the things identified is that teachers feel their time is limited and there are high demands on how they use that time," the study's program manager and principal investigator Gavin Hazel said.

Nicole Calnan, a membership and training officer at the NSW Teachers Federation, said: "It's one of the few positions where we expect teachers to produce the same results from their students in their first year as someone with 15 years of experience.

"We need to make sure that if we do expect that, they have support and more time within the school day for professional learning and collaboration with other teachers."

Ms Calnan said countries like Finland, which have fewer required hours of direct instruction, provide a successful model of how teachers could be given more time outside the classroom during school hours.

Australian primary teachers must provide a total of 6060 hours of direct instruction across K-6 classes every year, compared to their counterparts in Finland who are required to provide 3794 hours of direct instruction, according to the latest Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report on classroom instruction. The average number of required direct instruction hours across OECD countries is 4553.

"Their teaching day is structured differently," Ms Calnan said. "Face-to-face instruction time isn't as great as other countries, which means teachers have greater time for lesson preparation and students have more time for social interaction.

And obviously Finnish students still perform very well."

Ms Calnan said improving career experiences for new teachers would require a greater policy focus on teacher wellbeing, instead of only looking at how students are performing.

"[This] research is a welcome addition to our understanding of what early career teachers are facing," she said. "That hasn't been a priority for political parties."

Ms Gordon, who also represents the NSW Teachers Federation, said she has been lucky to have a good mentor in the teacher next door and her principal, but her experience stands in contrast to that of many of her friends from university.

"One school can be a vastly different experience from the one next door," Ms Gordon said.

"Some people have said the executive at their school were not supporting them or putting pressure on them; other people have talked about parents' expectations being too high. "You pretty much sign a contract and off you go.

"I think there needs to be more of a structured induction with different focuses on things like your wellbeing and how important it is to get sleep."


QUT racism case: Bankruptcy notice to litigious whiner delayed

Two students trying to recoup legal costs against a Queensland University of Technology staffer who unsuccessfully tried to sue them over what she claimed were racist social media posts have been unable to serve her with a bankruptcy notice.

Barrister Tony Morris, who is representing the students, on Wednesday said efforts to serve the notice on Cindy Prior in person had so far failed.  "People at her house kept saying she wasn't there," Mr Morris said outside the Federal Court in Brisbane.

The students, Calum Thwaites and Jackson Powell, are trying to claw back $10,780 in legal costs awarded to them after Ms Prior's racial discrimination lawsuit was thrown out last year.

Ms Prior had attempted to sue Mr Thwaites, Mr Powell and a third student Alex Wood, along with the university, for $250,000 under section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. The controversial section makes it unlawful for anyone to "offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate" another person or group on the grounds of race, colour or ethnicity.

Ms Prior had argued in court documents she was unable to continue working face- to-face with white people following a series of allegedly racist Facebook comments posted after Mr Wood and two other students were asked to leave an indigenous-only computer lab at QUT in 2013.

The case was dismissed by Justice John Dowsett in November and he later ordered Ms Prior pay the students' legal costs.

Ms Prior didn't appear on Wednesday when the court ordered the bankruptcy notice could be served via email, SMS, post and delivery to her WA address.

Mr Morris said the delay in serving the notice would only increase the court costs.

Outside court, Mr Thwaites said he was hoping the matter would soon end and he could get on with life. "It's just an unnecessary addition to the process," he said.

The matter returns to court on July 19.


'We've had enough of being nice, it's not working': Mark Latham slams the 'delusional' wisdom of being civil to Muslims

A man who almost became Australia's prime minister has slammed the conventional wisdom of being nice to Muslims in the hope they will tip police off about a potential terrorist attack.

Former Labor leader Mark Latham says the public is sick of having to 'be nice' in the wake of terrorist attacks this week in London and Melbourne.

'The public opinion now is at a real tipping point, a real tipping point where we've had enough of being nice. It's not working,' he told his Mark Latham's Outsiders program on Wednesday night.

'The evidence suggests the 'be nice' faction is in a state of delusion and they're not facing up to the realistic issues. 'We need to form a realistic faction. Be realistic about the problem of radical Islamic terrorism and confront it head on.'

Mr Latham said the idea that terrorists weren't real Muslims needed to be challenged, after Somali-born refugee Yacqub Khayre killed a man at a serviced apartment in Melbourne during a Monday night siege which ISIS claimed responsibility for.

'The 'be nice' do gooders in the debate basically say that terrorism of this kind, they're not really Muslim, this is not really a reflection of Islam and you don't want to antagonise these communities because it will make them more dangerous, more radical and the security agencies worry about losing informants inside Islamic communities to tip them off about potential dangerous events,' he said.

Mr Latham, who has recently joined the libertarian Liberal Democrats, said the London Muslim Mayor Sadiq Khan's declaration that London was the world's safest global cities was an example of the 'be nice' approach failing.

It came after three knife-wielding Islamist terrorists killed eight people in London on Saturday night.

'How can you talk about London as a safe city after people have been run down by these terrorists on London Bridge after the same terrorists have rushed into restaurants in Borough Markets with knives trying to murder people?,' Mr Latham asked.

'There's nothing safe about London in those circumstances. This bloke is an absolute imbecile and I don't blame Donald Trump for a moment for getting stuck right into him.'

He also added Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation director-general Duncan Lewis to the 'be nice faction' list for telling a Senate committee there was no link between refugees and terrorism.

'How delusional can you be?,' Mr Latham asked. 'The 'be nice' faction is completely out of touch with reality. 'We need to have a hard-edged, vigorous response to Islamic terrorism.'


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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