U21:Connect - April 2014

03 April 2014
The latest news and items of interest to staff and students across the Universitas 21 network.

U21 news

U21 Ranking of National Higher Education Systems 2014

Now in its third year, the U21 Ranking of National Higher Education Systems meets a long-standing need to shift discussion from the ranking of the world’s best universities, to the standing of the whole higher education system in each country.

The 2014 U21 Ranking report will include the same 50 countries as in the 2013 report, which will again be ranked separately in four areas (Resources, Environment, Connectivity and Output) and overall. New for 2014, this data will also be compared against the values expected at each country’s level of economic development. Brief text summaries of each country’s ranking will be available for the first time this year and will be accessible via an interactive map on the U21 website.

You can find out more about the methodology behind the rankings, and read the full 2012 and 2013 reports on the Rankings webpage www.universitas21.com/link/rankings

The 2014 report is scheduled for publication at 00:01 BST on Thursday 15 May and members are invited to promote this project as much as possible. Press departments have been contacted at each institution but if you have any queries please contact Lucy Smith (l.smith.1@bham.ac.uk). 

The U21 Rankings were also featured in a recent article in University World News (http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20140318125156290)


U21 is blooming!

When U21 Presidents visited Fudan University in 2005 a series of magnolia trees were planted to mark the occasion.  Nine years on, the trees are flourishing and look a picture in the spring sunshine (see the photo at the top!). 



Student Experience

Student Mobility Network Meeting

The annual Student Mobility Network meeting takes place on 22 and 23 May 2014 in San Diego, immediately prior to the NAFSA Conference.  This year’s meeting will provide members with the opportunity to network with colleagues, meet new members, discuss the latest mobility opportunities, including short-term mobility, receive updates from members, and listen to presentations on good practice in the network.  The group will also discuss the strategic direction of the network and provide input into the strategic initiatives within the SE cluster.

The major topics for discussion this year will be the Student Experience projects - Internships and an annual U21 Incubator.

Members have also expressed interest in discussing  the new U21 OCC (online closed course) Critical Thinking in Global Challenges; undergraduate research; community based projects; administration of short-term programmes; student mobility programming; student promotion and outreach initiatives; Erasmus+;  International Staff Week; summer courses; U21 Ambassadors; and short-term mobility opportunities such as the ‘College on Wheels’ organised by the University of Delhi.

The meeting is open to all members with an interest in enhancing the student experience across the network.



Researcher Engagement

GRC registrations open

Registration for the 2014 U21 Graduate Research Conference, which will run from 1-4 July and will be hosted by the University of Auckland, is now open.  The theme of the GRC will beCelebrating Ageing Research.

Within the conference there will be four sub-themes:

  • Making Ends Meet (economic/social focus)
  • An Ageing Society (demographic focus)
  • The Ticking Clock (biological focus)
  • A Slippery Slope? (medical focus

Each U21 member is invited to nominate up to five participants - two to give oral presentations and three to create posters.   Students may present posters or do oral presentations on any of the four subthemes themes. If members wish to nominate students who work in a different area of ageing to those mentioned above, Auckland will also accommodate such nominations.

Registrations close on 31 May.



Research Impact workshop announced

A workshop on Research Impact and how to measure it will be held at UNSW Australia from 12 to 13 August 2014.  The workshop will be looking at a variety of aspects around the theme, focussing primarily on three key areas – measuring impact, engagement metrics and driving engagement. 

Further details and a registration form can be found at www.universitas21.com/link/RIworkshop2014.


Educational Innovation

Call for proposals 

The EI cluster is seeking proposals from U21 member universities for activities designed to address the cluster’s four key aims:

  • Effective and sustainable approaches to learning and teaching in a rapidly changing digital environment (including through MOOCs, online and blended learning)
  • A broadening of the educational experience and strengthening of student engagement through a shared focus on global citizenship
  • A strengthened teaching-research nexus, supported by contemporary scholarship
  • Effective virtual and physical learning environments, adaptable to changing learner needs. 

Proposals may request partial funding for workshops, meetings, master classes and any other activity directed at advancing the cluster’s aims.  In 2014, three grants of up to US$5,000 are available to provide partial support for selected activities.  Proposals are welcome from individual member institutions as well as from groups of U21 institutions and should be received by Lavinia Winegar Gott (Lavinia@virginia.edu) in the U21 Secretariat by Saturday 31 May 2014.



U21's new Online Closed Course (OCC)

The new U21 OCC (online closed course) is based on the University of Edinburgh’s MOOC, “Critical Thinking in Global Challenges”, and will run at least three times over the next two years, developing and evolving as it does so to enable appropriate evaluation and improvement.

The introductory course will give our undergraduate students the opportunity to understand what critical thinking is, and to practice and enhance their critical thinking skills. Using the context of some important global challenges affecting us all, including human health and wellbeing, infectious diseases, and increasing population, the course aims to develop skills in critical thinking in the setting of these major global challenges.

Content preparation for the launch of the initiative, scheduled for November 2014–mid December 2014, is close to completion.  It is envisaged that all content preparation will be complete by early June 2014.  We are now seeking to identify institutional leads/liaison individuals and also individuals to be involved in course delivery, i.e. tutors and support staff.  

We are also planning to run an online tutoring session for faculty and teaching assistants in the U21 universities who want to participate in the U21 OCC in order to brief them on how to mentor students.  We are exploring dates for this to happen in May and details will be published once confirmed.

All U21 institutions are welcome to participate in this initiative whether or not they have already signalled interest in it.  At this stage, 17 institutions have signed on for the first instance of the course.

If you have any questions or if your institution is interested in joining this first iteration (there is still time!), please do not hesitate to contact Lavinia Winegar Gott (Lavinia@virginia.edu)



EI Conference announced

Registration for the 2014 EI Conference, to be held at UNSW Australia from 23 to 24 October 2014, is now open.  This year’s conference takes Personalised Learning as its over-arching theme, using the topic to address ways to achieve the cluster’s aims and giving participants the opportunity to explore a number of areas related to the theme. 

In addition, two pre-conference workshops are to be held on 22 October 2014, the first exploring Virtual Mobility and Shared Learning Across U21, with particular focus on U21’s new OCC and the second on Recognising and Rewarding Teaching Excellence in U21 Universities

Further details, along with the participant criteria can be found on the U21 website.





New Vice Chancellor for the University of Hong Kong

The University of Hong Kong has appointed Professor Peter William Mathieson as the 15th Vice-Chancellor

of the university, succeeding Professor Lap-Chee Tsui. Professor Mathieson is a teacher, clinician, medical researcher and academic leader, and is currently the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Bristol. He is a distinguished nephrologist with a clinical interest in autoimmune renal

diseases, and has rich experience in developing research and innovation strategies the higher education sector in  the UK.  We look forward to him continuing the important input given by Professor Tsui to the U21 network.


New President at University of British Columbia

A renowned expert in research and innovation policy who has forged close collaborations between universities, civil society and business has been appointed the 13th president and vice chancellor of the University of British Columbia.  Dr Arvind Gupta is currently chief executive o?cer and scienti?c director of Mitacs, a not-for-pro?t organisation recognised internationally for nurturing the next generation of research and business-savvy innovators. Dr Gupta succeeds Professor Stephen Toope, who completes his eight years’ service on 30 June 2014.  He will become President on July 1 for a ?ve-year term, while retaining his position at UBC as professor of computer science. Dr Gupta will be known to some around network already, having been involved in the 2010 U21 Presidential Symposium at the University of Delhi. We now welcome him to the network in his new role as President of UBC.


Professor Lily Kong relinquishes international portflio

After many year’s involvement in Universitas 21, including contributing to U21’s first e-book, Professor Lily Kong has just stood down as as Vice-President (University and Global Relations) at the National University of Singapore.  She retains her other portfolio as Vice-Provost (Academic Personnel), but hands over her international role to Professor Andrew Wee, former Dean of Science at NUS.  We thank Professor Kong for her enthusiasm in the network and look forward to working with Professor Wee in the future.


U21 figures appointed to APAIE 

Alongside their involvement with Universitas 21, many of our Asia-Pacific universities are are also members of APAIE, the Asia-Pacific Associate for International Educations.  We are very pleased that two people who have been heavily involved in U21 activity have now been appointed to senior roles within APAIE.  Professor Katsuichi Uchida, U21 Manager for Waseda University and Sue Elliott from the University of Melbourne have both been Board Members of APAIE and at the the recent conference were appointed President and Vice President respectively.  We congratulate them and look forward to the fresh perspectives that these roles may bring to their involvement in U21.