U-multirank is growing

umultirankEarlier this month, the third U-Multirank was launched. In 2016/2017 edition U-Multirank is larger than ever, with 1300 institutions from 90 countries, and 13 subject areas compared with over 10700 study programmes covered. The idea of U-Multirank is to provide a multidimensional ranking, where it is possible to examine universities, according to results in the following areas: research performance, teaching and learning, knowledge transfer, international orientation and regional engagement. In total, 31 performance indicators are covered.

The main results show that there are different dynamics on different indicators. While in research performance/reputation, the “usual suspects” that dominate many of the one-dimensional rankings are also in the top, in the indicators with teaching and learning the picture is more complex. For teaching and learning, U-Multirank includes a survey of 105 000 students world wide at participating institutions. The 20 universities that obtained the highest satisfaction levels are from 9 different countries. In the press release, Dr. Frans van Vught and Dr Frank Ziegele who lead the project comment on this:The opinions of current students are – and should be – influential in helping tomorrow’s students decide where to study. Students want to find the university that’s best for them, according to their own preferences, and often look to their peers to learn from their experiences, especially in an area like learning and teaching where no one knows better than the students themselves.”   (more…)

High levels of employability for Erasmus Mundus graduates

Erasmus MundusErasmus Mundus was launched in 2004 as an initiative to boost joint degrees on Master level in Europe. In 2013, the programme was merged into Erasmus+. Every year, the Erasmus Mundus Students and Alumni Association carries out a Graduate Impact Survey. The most recent issue shows high levels of employability and high levels of satisfaction among the graduates.

The survey data shows that over 90% of the graduates are satisfied with the quality of the master programmes, a figure that has been consistently high throughout the Erasmus Mundus initiative (in 2009, 89% reported being satisfied). At the same time, the data shows also that the scholarships are viewed as a stronger motivation than the academic quality of the courses, when graduates evaluate their reasons for choosing an Erasmus Mundus course. At the same time, reputation of Erasmus Mundus has been consistently growing, whereas the number of students reporting scholarship as the main motivation has decreased since 2009.

The main aspects that graduates were not satisfied with was that there was a lack of contacts created with future employers. This would suggest that students are conscious about their future career. At the same time, about 60% of the graduates have obtained a job less 2 months after graduation.

The survey highlights that according to students and graduates, the main impact of Erasmus Mundus is in enhancing intercultural skills, whereas career and subject related expertise are rated as second and third impact. A share of the graduates also stay in Europe. While 17,8% have EU as their country of origin, over half of the graduates remain in the EU after graduation.

Read the survey summary here. 

Call for papers: Second International Conference on Cultural Political Economy


The Second International Conference on Cultural Political Economy is hosted by the Centre for Globalisation, Education and Social Futures at the University of Bristol.

Theme for the conference: “Putting culture in its place in political economy”. The conference will focus on themes in inter‐ and trans‐disciplinary social sciences, approaching Cultural Political Economy as analytical resource. It will look to further develop the Cultural Political Economy conceptualisations and it is particularly interested in ‘the cultural’ in relation to ‘the political’ and ‘the economic’

The organisers are in particular focused on the concept of Cultural Political Economy (CPE), defined as following: “Cultural Political Economy (CPE) is an emerging and still developing trans‐disciplinary approach oriented to post‐disciplinary horizons. It can be understood as a trans‐ and post‐disciplinary research paradigm that can used to study a wide range of phenomenon. What makes it distinct and new is that it is concerned with making ‘cultural turns’ in the study of political economy. It does so to enhance its interpretive and explanatory power. It takes into account that the economic and political spheres are always‐already cultural and that taking this into account transforms the study of political economy and cognate fields.”

Key dates: 

– abstract submission deadline: 29 April 2016
– notification of abstract acceptance: 27 May 201
– registration opens: 27 May 2016
– registration closes: 27 July 2016
– full paper submission (of selected abstracts): 27 July 2016
– conference: 25-26 August 2016

Read more here on the conference website

The aftermath of “the Creator” controversy at PLoS ONE

In the beginning of March, social media erupted with a controversy around an article published in the open-access journal PLoS ONE that cited “the Creator” as a source for design of human hands. Now that three weeks have passed, what are some of the lessons learned?

The article and initial reactions

First of all, the source of the controversy. The article included a number of references to the Creator, including a following statement in the abstract: “The explicit functional link indicates that the biomechanical characteristic of tendinous connective architecture between muscles and articulations is the proper design by the Creator to perform a multitude of daily tasks in a comfortable way.” References to the Creator were further also made in the article itself, both in the introduction and conclusions.


While the article was published online on January 5th, the public controversy only started early March, when James McInerney, Chair in Evolutionary Biology at University of Manchester, tweeted his outrage at the statements made in the paper, by calling the publication “a joke”. He later noted that his strong language was due to nuisance with creationism for over 20 years.

However, the publication that had been under the radar for about two months now got massive attention in social media. During a single day, 2nd of March, some rather strong responses were posted in the PLoS ONE article comments. A number of commentators who presented themselves as editors and reviwers of PLoS One threatened to withdraw from the journal. The same day, PLoS issued a statement that they would examine the concerns raised. (more…)

ECPR standing group: Politics of Higher Education, Research and Innovation

Recently, the European Consortium of Political Research approved the application on establishing a new Standing Group for Politics of Higher Education, Research and Innovation. We have asked Meng-Hsuan Chou (Nanyang Technological University – NTU, one of the convenors of the SG) and Jens Jungblut (INCHER, Kassel, a member of the steering group) about their thoughts about the new standing group and the importance of this development.

What was the main rationale for establishing the SG?

Dr. Meng Hsuan Chou

Dr. Meng-Hsuan Chou (Nanyang Technological University)

Meng-Hsuan Chou: “The ECPR Standing Group on the Politics of Higher Education, Research, and Innovation builds on the work that network members have done within the framework of the UACES CRN on the European Research Area. We wish to consolidate and expand the excellent collaboration we have had and the CRN’s past and on-going success with organising a section at the ECPR General Sessions points to the Standing Group as a great platform for our continuation.”

Jens Jungblut highlights also the increasing relevance of the topic in global policy debates: “As higher education, research and innovation policies are becoming more relevant for contemporary societies and also more politically salient, we felt that there is a need for greater attention to this in political science sometimes neglected policy area. Furthermore, we felt that this policy area has characteristics that make it an interesting case for many different conceptual and methodological approaches.”

Jens Jungblut  (INCHER, Kassel)

Jens Jungblut
(INCHER, Kassel)

What are your main expectations for the SG?

Jens Jungblut highlights the potential added value of cross-disciplinary interactions: “The aim is to grow and connect a community of scholars with differing backgrounds that come together in the Standing Group with their diverse approaches to enhance scholarship both subject specific but also in more general terms. The overall hope is that this will lead to intensified collaborations with regard to publications and joint research projects.”

Adding to this, Meng-Hsuan Chou emphasizes the cumulative work building on existing ERA-CRN network: “We expect the Standing Group to provide the same collaborative opportunities as the UACES CRN had offered for the past three years (2013-2016). We are especially keen to promote the research findings of Standing Group members to a wider academic and policy audience within and beyond Europe.” (more…)