Category Archives: University

Swansea Most Improved Welsh Uni

The Guardian University Guide 2014 has shown Swansea University to be the most improved Welsh university, and the fourth largest riser in the UK.

Swansea University rose 34 places over the past three years, from 94 to 60. There are 120 universities ranked in total.

Swansea University scored particularly well for teaching, overall satisfaction and career prospects. The University has a remarkable track record of graduate employment: within six months of graduating, 92% of graduates found full-time employment.

Swansea University has also launched a paid internship scheme allowing undergraduates to gain valuable work experience. In partnership with the South Wales Evening Post, Swansea University undergraduates are placed on summer internships with local business.

The paid internship scheme is one of several schemes the University has launched in order to better assist students find gainful employment after graduating, delivered under the Swansea Employability Academy.

Of the ranking results, Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Hilary Lappin-Scott said: “To have soared 34 places in just three years in one of the UK’s most renowned league tables is outstanding. The rankings are a recognisable measure of our performance, reputation and the excellence of the experience which we provide to our students.”

“The University is pushing ahead with its £250m Science and Innovation Campus development to be completed in 2015 and is already spending £70m modernising facilities on our Singleton Campus. Coupled with a stunning location and even sharing sports facilities with a Premier League football club the vibrancy and reputation of the University is starting to be recognised. We will continue to push forward our ambitious agendas to help propel us further.”

Sports Science is an area that Swansea University has performed well in, jumping to 5th place from 40th last year. Head of Sports Science at Swansea, Prof Gareth Stratton said: “Maybe the best way of describing sports science is that it’s the same as CSI, but it’s the forensics of exercise instead of crime. We want to produce graduates who are scientists, using sport and exercise as a background.”

Stratton believes part of this success stems from the re-locating of the Sports Sceince department from the School of Health to the College of Engineering. Stratton said: “There is a tight focus on how Sports Science can be practically applied, using engineering skills to look at sports injuries, or, for example, barriers to an individual’s movement caused by disability. This, together with high-profile internships with major sporting teams and venues, has made Swansea students highly employable when they graduate.”

The Pro Vice-Chancellor added: “Earlier this year Swansea University was recognised as one of the world’s top 200 institutions by the QS World University Subject Rankings. Since 2012 it has excelled with not one but four subject areas in the top 200. An outstanding performance.”

“Together these tables show that as an ambitious, research-led institution with top quality teaching, Swansea is an excellent place to study for UK, EU and international students. All in all Swansea is a University on the way up.”

Student Life From Times Gone Past

Students from Swansea University have uncovered the past of the University’s students’ union, uncovering details of what it was like to be a Swansea student many moons ago.

They discovered evidence for 1920s style speed-dating, a cheaper beer campaign lasting 30 years and an article from a student newspaper on the pressing issue of dirty crockery and bad food.

Even during the so-called “swinging 60s”, rules uncovered for the female halls of residence were strict indeed.

The research was carried about by history students at the University. One student, Sion Durham, was awarded an Archives Wales prize for his contribution, where amongst other things he discovered a long running campaign for a student bar.

Sion said records should the campaign lasted 30 years, but was held-back by, “one wild night in 1958 which ended up with lots of glasses being smashed”.

“After this episode students needed to prove more than ever that they were trustworthy enough to run their own bar. In fact this didn’t happen until 1988,” he added.

And what-of the strict female dormitory rules? It was found that during 1956 – 6 female residents had to “air rooms, make beds and wash up…and to ask permission from the warden if they wished to be away overnight”.

There were some serious discoveries made too. A plaque from the 1980s was discovered opposing Sourth African apartheid. It was commissioned to commemorate a visit by an African National Congress Representative while Nelson Mandela was still imprisoned.

The idea behind this research work was to design a new module that gave Swansea University students the experience of sharing practical historical knowledge, said Dr Louise Miskell, senior lecturer in history and classics. The hope is to improve students’ employability after graduation.

“Working with original sources is really important to Swansea, and when the Student Union records were deposited in the archive it was the perfect opportunity,” she said.

“It meant students were able to look at minute books of meetings, student newspapers, and all the doings of previous generations of students at Swansea.”

Dr Miskell said that previously, student unions were not seen in the way they are today. “They’ve also had a really important role in politics and campaigning over the years, which really comes across in the archive.”

“This was a strong feature of the literature, exhibition and web material the students produced during the course of their studies,” she said.

Swansea University archivist Elisabeth Bennett said the institution would be incomplete without the history of the students.

“Here at the Richard Burton Archives our aims are to preserve the records in our care and to help people use them,” she said.

“It’s great to see students using archives as part of their courses and there is a lot more potential for them to be used as we are open to the general public as well as staff and students.”

University of Oxford Scholarship Season

It’s that time of year again, where potential international students wishing to study at one of the UK’s finest institutions can apply for scholarships.

83 Rhodes Scholarships are awarded each for for full-time postgraduate studies. The scheme is open to 14 countries around the world and each scholarship covers full fees, modest living expenses and a return airfare.

Applications for 2014 are now open.

Rhodes Scholarships are to support outstanding all-round students at the University of Oxford. In short, the aim is to provide transformative opportunities for exceptional individuals. Applicants require outstanding intellect, character, leadership, and commitment to service. They want potential “leaders for the world’s future”.

The Rhodes Scholarships are awarded to study any full-time course at postgraduate level offered by University of Oxford and entry for successful applicants may not normally be deferred.

The Scholarships last for two years and are subject – at all times – to satisfactory academic progression and personal conduct. There is scope for the scholarship to be extended to a third year, for those students who take a recognized route to the Dphil. The Masters of Business Administration (MBA) and the Masters of Financial Economics (MFE) are only tenable in the second year of the Scholarship.

There are some quite strict eligibility criteria which follow (they do vary between Rhodes constituencies, so be sure to check:

  • Applicants must meet the citizenship and residency requirements
  • Applicants must be aged between 18 to 28 (on 1st October the following year of application)
  • Applicants must be suitable for study at Oxford and therefore should be able to met the regular entry requirements required for their chosen course. In addition, as scholarship winners, applicants will be expected to demonstrate how they can perform over and above the required minimum. Rhodes Scholars are required to perform to a very high academic level and competition for places is fierce.

The Rhodes Scholarship is available to applicants from the following countries:

  • Australia
  • Bermuda
  • Canada
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Jamaica & the Commonwealth Caribbean
  • Kenya
  • New Zealand
  • Pakistan
  • Southern Africa (including South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia and Swaziland)
  • United States
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

Four criteria are used to select Rhodes Scholars:

  1. literary and scholastic attainments
  2. energy to use one’s talents to the full
  3. truth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship
  4. moral force of character and instincts to lead, and to take an interest in one’s fellow beings.

How to apply in broad terms (remember to check the exact details for your constituency):

  • Evidence of academic record / transcript (complete or in progress) of undergraduate degree and any postgraduate study
  • Curriculum vitae/resumé or list of principal activities
  • Personal statement or essay (including, crucially, a clear statement of what the applicant wishes to study at Oxford and why)
  • Evidence of age / birth certificate / passport
  • English Language proficiency (where English is not the first language)
  • Photograph
  • List of referees (usually several are required) who can attest in confidential references to the character and intellect of the applicant, including academic, personal, extra-curricular and leadership achievements (and who should never include people to whom you are related).

Application deadline dates:

  • Australia (closing date 3 September 2013)
  • Bermuda (closing date 25 October 2013)
  • Canada (closing date 18 October 2013)
  • Germany (closing date 30 September 2013)
  • Hong Kong (closing date 25 September 2013)
  • India (closing date 31 July 2013)
  • Jamaica and the Commonwealth Caribbean (closing date 30 September 2013)
  • Kenya (closing date 31 August 2013)
  • New Zealand (closing date 1 August 2013)
  • Pakistan (closing date 31 August 2013)
  • Southern Africa (closing date 15 August 2013)
  • Zambia (closing date 11 October 2013)
  • Zimbabwe (closing date 1 August 2013)
  • Applications for Rhodes Scholarships in the United States will open on 1 July (closing date 2 October 2013).

Plymouth Medical School Fourth Best in England

Plymouth University’s medical school is the fourth best in England, according to the latest Guardian league tables.

Only Oxford, Cambridge and UCL ranked higher.

Across the whole of the UK the city’s Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry degrees were rated sixth and eighth respectively.

According to the Guardian University League Table 99% of its graduates are in employment six months after graduating. It found that 95% of students are satisfied with the course at Plymouth, and 94% satisfied with the quality of teaching.

The league table identified that the dentistry degree has also performed well against established centres of dental excellence and is one of only two new dental schools in the overall UK top 10 alongside the likes of Glasgow and King’s College London.

The league table will be used by students starting in September.

It ranks Plymouth overall as the top modern university in the South West, and within the top 60 nationally.

The university improves two places to 59th from last year’s ranking – but that is a long way from 2012’s 47th position.

Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry will be boosted by the results, which come after Exeter split away from the joint venture last year.

Professor Wendy Purcell, vice chancellor at Plymouth University, said: “We are absolutely delighted that the performance of our schools of medicine and dentistry has been recognised.”

“They are outstanding schools nationally, distinguished by their focus on clinical education and developing doctors and dentists for a modern NHS.”

She added: “Our mission is to nurture exceptional doctors and dentists of the future.”

“We are confident that the work we do with our medical and dental students in Plymouth will reap dividends not just for their professional futures, but also the future of patient care in the UK and further afield.”

In terms of student satisfaction, which accounts for 25 % of the total score, Plymouth’s 89% sees it rank within the top 25 nationally for teaching, and 26th for overall satisfaction at 88%.

Prof Purcell said: “This is thanks to our unique students-as-partners approach. We are committed to putting our students at the heart of every decision we make.”

Plymouth appears in more than 30 subject tables. It is seventh for sports science and tourism and 14th for architecture and art and design.

The University of St Mark and St John, which won full university status this year, is back in the table at 101st place, after slipping off the radar in 2012.

King’s College London Launches Delhi Summer School

King’s College London – a leading UK university – has announced the opening of its first international Summer School campus in Delhi, India.

Courses such as international relations, international political economy and e-business will be taught at Miranda House College, Delhi University.

“A Summer School is a fantastic way to enrich your portfolio of skills and to get a head start in today’s globalised and fast-moving world.”

“We are grateful to Miranda House College for hosting our courses and for the hard work that they have put in to make this happen,” Tayyeb Shah, director of international strategy at King’s College London, said.

There will also be the opportunity for the brightest and best students who attend the Summer School to wins scholarships for study at King’s College London Summer School. A single scholarship each year will also be available to Delhi University faculty.

“India is one of the most fitting places in the world to teach international relations – a topic which deals with issues directly relevant to the present day.”

“India, being the world’s largest democracy, is a country where the study of international relations can bring empowerment to the state through the integration of its young people in the system of global governance,” said Dr Diana Bozhilova, who is teaching the international relations course.

UK Government Wants Latin American Students

A huge charm offensive to attract university students to the UK from Latin America has been undertaken by two British Ministers.

Vince Cable – UK Business Secretary – and David Willetts – Universities Minister – have travelled to Brazil, Mexico and Columbia recently.

There has been a large drop in the number of university students coming to the UK from traditional markets such as India. Many blame the constant changes to and crackdown on student visas.

Many universities rely heavily on income derived from international students due to higher tuition fees – that is student migrants form outside the EU – and many are concerned about falling numbers and falling revenue.

The London Met saga has probably contributed to the drop in numbers, with potential students put-off studying in the UK.

And now Ministers are turning to Latin America to stimulate growth in the UK education sector.

Brazil has stated many times that it wants more of its citizens to be educated in the West, and have set-up a successful scholarship programme, the Science Without Borders Scheme. It aims to send 101,000 Brazilian students to further education courses all over the world.

The Scheme also allows Brazilian students to spend three months in industry. Placements are available with Ford UK, GlaxoSmithKline and Unilever as part of a degree course.

So far more than 1,100 students have received scholarships through the scheme.

The UK has not traditionally been a popular study destination for Brazilians. Brazil sends less international students to the UK than both Jordan and Kuwait, who have significance much smaller populations. In the year 2011 – 2012, there were 1,340 students from Brazil studying in the UK.

Whilst Vince Cable visited Brazil, David Willetts visited Mexico and Columbia. Mr Willetts said, “Few countries are able to match the UK for providing a top-quality university education. The success of Science Without Borders in attracting Brazilian students is testament to this, and although the programme will generate over £200m for the UK economy, its impact goes far beyond the financial.”

“Attracting more students from emerging economies like Mexico and Colombia will lead to other forms of engagement between them and the UK in the future, such as study exchanges for UK students and research collaborations.”

Chief Executive of Universities UK, Nicola Dandridge, said she was encouraged by the visits and promotion of the UK’s further education sector: “There are a number of exciting higher education initiatives underway to increase links between countries in Latin American and the UK.”

“It highlights the importance of international students to the UK and provides another opportunity to repeat the message that there is no cap on the number of genuine university students who can study here.”

“We welcome many students from around the world, and a growing number from Latin America. The UK remains second only to the United States in terms of the strength of its university system and we attract more overseas students than almost any other country in the world. UK universities have a worldwide reputation for excellence in research and teaching, offering a rich and diverse range of courses.”

American Style Rate Your Lecturer Website Launched for UK

The UK now has its own version of America’s Rate My Professors, where students had publicly scolded their lecturers. Perhaps a few lecturers are shuddering throughout the UK’s universities.

Rate Your Lecturer hopes to, “generate an alternative ranking system to that of the norm” – its data shows scores out of ten on names lecturers by university.

Being marketed as “by students for students”, Rate Your Lecturer says: “Universities and courses will be ranked purely on the lecturers’ ability to educate and inspire, rather than churn out research and publish articles.”

The rankings of course do need to be taken with a pinch of salt. For instance, one Environmental Engineering professor has received three reviews and has a score of ten out of ten. However, comments included with the ratings include:

  • “Massive sense of humour, dwarfed by intellectual capability.”
  • “Profane when discussing LFC and MUFC [Liverpool Football Club and Manchester United Football Club].”
  • “He’s the man!”
  • “There’s nothing wrong with perfection.”

An Early Modern Literature professor received a glowing review on the Rate Your Lecturer website:

  • “His genuine desire to help you and make sure you get the best out of your time at Uni are clear from the get go – this is a man who really wants you to succeed”
  • “While not necessarily a bad thing, he is brutally honest with his feedback…He swears quite a lot, which some people might have a problem with.”

Despite this, there has been positive impact on some lecturers. Following a bad review on the US website Rate My Professors, Patrick Hicks, writer-in-residence at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota wrote a 1,700 word response. He described Rate My Professors as, “a public kind of scolding, and this one stung”, and ended up thanking the student “for making me think deeply about myself”.

Visit Rate Your Lecturer

Best Universities Based on Student Experience

The University of East Anglia tops rankings of UK further education institutions based on student experience.

More than 12,000 undergraduate students completed the Times Higher Education survey, rating universities across 21 different categories, from the quality of staff and lectures to the quality of student social life.

Located in Norwich, the University of East Anglia is most well-known for creative writing and American studies courses. Previously, Dundee University held ranked first based on student experience, but this year dropped to eighth place.

Other notable news is a post-1992 breaking into the top ten of the rankings for the first time. York St. John University placed ninth, up from 58th. This is in-fact 25 ranks higher than its Russell Group rival, the University of York.

Despite this huge leap, the prize for most improved university went to the University of Chester, rising from 75th to 29th in the rankings. This jump follows a £3m investment on infrastructure such as a learning centre and an additional £1m investment on sports facilities.

The University of Oxford ranking first for quality of staff and lectures and continues to play second-fiddle to the University of Cambridge in the overall rankings.

The university with the best students’ union was deemed to be the University of Sheffield and shares the first place in terms of social life with Newcastle University. The best UK universities in terms of sports facilities were Bath and Loughborough.

Respondents scored London universities pretty poorly in the survey. University College London slumped to 67th, King’s College 75th and London School of Economics at 72.

John Gill, editor of Times Higher Education, said: “With universities now expected to compete for students, particularly those achieving the best A level grades, they will be scrutinise as never before by both current and potential students form the standard of teaching and facilities to the opportunities their degrees open up.”

Cambridge beats Oxford in major university league table

Cambridge maintained its lead over Oxford to be named as the top university in Britain.

The ancient institution beat 123 others nationally to be ranked as the number one university for the third year in a row, it was revealed.

Oxford climbed back to second in the table after slipping to third in 2012 behind the London School of Economics.

Today’s table – published by the Complete University Guide – named the LSE as third followed by Imperial College London, Durham, St Andrews, University College London, Warwick, Bath and Exeter.

The table uses national data to rank universities on nine measures including student satisfaction, research standards, student entry grades, staff-to-student ratios, spending on academic services and graduate job prospects.

Subject-specific tables are also produced showing the best universities for different academic disciplines.

Cambridge took top place in 34 of the 46 subjects it offered. Oxford was top in six out of 37 subject areas.

In a series of further conclusions, the tables showed:

• The worst university was East London, with University College Birmingham, Bolton and London Metropolitan also featuring among the bottom four;

• 15 universities fell by more than 10 places, including Central Lancashire (69th to 92nd), Gloucester (74th to 94th), Sunderland (89th to 110th) and Bedfordshire (82nd to 107th);

• Oxford Brookes was the highest-ranking former polytechnic in 45th place;

• The most improved university was Northampton, which rose from 101st to 62nd in 12 months.

The tables also showed that the economic downturn continued to have an impact on job prospects.

Just 64.2 per cent of graduates went into skilled employment or further study, according to the latest data, compared with almost 69 per cent in the 2010 tables.

Some 66 universities dropped below the national average, with fewer than 64.2 per cent of their graduates in good jobs or postgraduate courses.

Bernard Kingston, principal author of the guide, said: “This year’s mixture of stability at the top and a degree of volatility in the lower half shows that, for many institutions, small differences between them render them vulnerable to fluctuations in their rankings.

“What is beyond dispute is that the top 10 includes some of the world’s finest higher education institutions.”

But Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of vice-chancellors’ group Universities UK, said: “It is good that there is a growing amount of information about university courses to help inform potential students.

“However, league tables and guides cannot tell the whole story about universities and individual courses. Positions can vary from one table to the next, based often on small statistical margins.”

Durham ranked fifth in new universities league table

The North-East’s leading university maintained its 2013 ranking in the 2014 Complete University Guide table, published in April.

Durham had two top-ranked subjects, English and Iberian Languages, and appeared in the national top ten for 28 subjects.

Professor Chris Higgins, the Vice-Chancellor, said Durham provided a world-class education and its graduates were some of the most sought after in the world by leading employers.

Elsewhere in the table, Cambridge maintained top spot, Oxford regained second place from the London School of Economics, which dropped to third, and Imperial College London held onto fourth.

York was the region’s next best placed institution, holding onto last year’s 12th place.

Newcastle rose one place to 22nd, Northumbria dropped ten to 64th, Teesside was a non-mover at 97th, York St John jumped four places to 99th and Sunderland fell from 89th to 110th.

Newcastle was judged to be the UK’s best university for Aural and Oral Studies.

Dr Bernard Kingston, principal author of The Complete University Guide, said: “This year’s mixture of stability at the top and a degree of volatility in the lower half shows that, for many institutions, small differences between them render them vulnerable to fluctuations in their rankings.

“What is beyond dispute is that the top ten includes some of the world’s finest higher education institutions.”