News in brief - 28 November 2013

November 28, 2013

Latin American higher education
Rectors ready to fly down to Rio

A major conference of university rectors will be held next year in Rio de Janeiro, focusing on higher education in Latin America and “the university of the 21st century”. The Universia network, which is supported by the bank Santander, has announced that the meeting will look at how responsive universities are to the demands of society, and the position of the continent’s academy in relation to the rest of the world. Representatives of 1,100 universities from 46 countries are expected to attend the Third Universia International Meeting of Chancellors on 28 and 29 July 2014. The first Universia conference was held in 2005 in Seville, and the second in 2010 in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Student recruitment agents
British Council’s ‘principled’ list

The British Council has launched an online list of student recruitment agents who have signed up to certain principles in an attempt to improve their quality. The new register will list those agents who have taken British Council training, accepted an ethical code of practice and agreed to be assessed again in the future. All UK education institutions will have access to the database, the council said. There have been concerns that agents may not offer unbiased advice to overseas students looking to study in the UK because they are paid on a commission basis. A Times Higher Education investigation last year found that agents acting for UK universities were paid around £1,000 per student recruited, almost always on commission.

Academy of Social Sciences
Crewe to lead the team

Sir Ivor Crewe, the master of University College, Oxford, has been appointed the next president of the Academy of Social Sciences, the national organisation of academics, learned societies and practitioners whose mission is to promote the public benefit of the social sciences in the UK. He will take over the post on 1 January from Sir Howard Newby, vice-chancellor of the University of Liverpool. Sir Ivor served as vice-chancellor of the University of Essex from 1995 to 2007, and he was the founding director of its Institute of Social and Economic Research. From 2003 to 2005, he served as the president of Universities UK. A forthright commentator on higher education, he has also published and broadcast extensively on a number of central aspects of British political life, notably elections, parties and public opinion.

Queen’s Anniversary Prizes
Practicality is its own reward

Twenty institutions have been named winners of the Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education by the Royal Anniversary Trust. The prestigious biennial prizes celebrate innovative work in UK higher and further education institutions, and are open to research groups, infrastructure and enterprise projects, and vocational and technical training programmes. Winners must be able to demonstrate the practical use of their work. Of the 20 winners, 17 are based in universities. Those honoured include a research project on the links between human activity and animal ecology carried out at the University of Glasgow; investigations into the impact of product marketing on children’s health by University of Stirling researchers; and the development of new techniques for the X-ray imaging of materials critical for power by University of Manchester academics.

Follow Times Higher Education on Twitter

Last week’s article citing research that indicates that traditional lectures fail to accomplish their educational objectives provoked a passionate debate on Twitter. “I (mostly) agree,” responded @cmbuddle, “however, to change will require paradigm shift in #highered.” “I certainly wish my undergrad degree had consisted of more tutorials/seminars & fewer lectures,” tweeted @mikepeacock86, while @history_punk recalled that she had “taught in a unit this sem[ester] where 75% [of] students listened to lecture recording at home. And why wouldn’t they?” However, @Alisaspeaks defended the traditional lecture. “Works for me!” she said, adding that it did depend on “how the Prof. facilitates”.

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