Universitatea „Cuza” din Iasi, castigatoare a NOUA proiecte finantate de Banca Mondiala
Universitatea „Alexandru Ioan Cuza” (UAIC) din Iasi a depus 10 subproiecte în cadrul rundei II de aplicatii pentru Schema de Granturi Necompetitive pentru Universitati (SGNU), finantate din Proiectul privind Învatamântul Secundar (ROSE), bugetul total fiind de 4.912.104 lei. UAIC a primit deja aprobarea pentru noua dintre cele 10 subproiecte, unul fiind înca în etapa de evaluare calitativa a cererii de finantare, pentru care raspunsul urmeaza sa fie primit zilele urmatoare.
„Subproiectele vor fi finantate integral de Banca Internationala de Reconstructie si Dezvoltare (Banca Mondiala) si au ca scop dezvoltarea si aplicarea unor programe de îmbunatatire a performantelor academice ale studentilor, de îndrumare si sprijin, servicii de coaching si dezvoltare personala, consiliere profesionala si orientare în cariera, de dezvoltare a competentelor socio-emotionale, workshop-uri în domenii specifice, precum si campanii de sensibilizare adresate studentilor cu risc ridicat de abandon sau alte activitati similare”, au reliefat cei de la „Cuza”.
Cele noua subproiecte depuse si câstigate de UAIC sunt: „Centrul de resurse si dezvoltare în domeniile psihologie si educatie – CREDD” – Facultatea de Psihologie si Stiinte ale Educatiei; „Ramâi în istorie! – HISTROSE” – Facultatea de Istorie; „Dezvoltarea competentelor academice si psiho-sociale ale studentilor Facultatii de Fizica pentru combaterea abandonului scolar – Evrika!” – Facultatea de Fizica; „Educatia fizica si sportul: model de reusita – SPORTREMED” – Facultatea de Educatie Fizica si Sport; „Fii si tu chimist! – TUCHIM” – Facultatea de Chimie; „Cresterea promovabilitatii studentilor biologi la Universitatea «Cuza» din Iasi – CPSB-UAIC” – Facultatea de Biologie; „Finalizeaza facultatea cu succes si cu sanse promitatoare! (FFSSP)” – Facultatea de Filosofie si Stiinte Social – Politice; „Ramâi Alaturi de Noi – RAN” – Facultatea de Economie si Administrarea Afacerilor; „Finalizeaza studiile IT în FII (Facultatea de Informatica din Iasi)! – InFIInit” – Facultatea de Informatica. Subproiectul aflat înca în etapa de evaluare calitativa a cererii de finantare este „PAsi în Teologia Ortodoxa pentru Studenti – PATOS” – Facultatea de Teologie Ortodoxa.
Toate subproiectele au fost elaborate de câte un reprezentant al fiecarei facultati intrate în competitie, cu sprijinul logistic al membrilor Biroului Proiecte de Dezvoltare din cadrul Universitatii „Cuza” din Iasi si au o durata de implementare de 36 de luni. „Beneficiarii proiectelor sunt studentii pentru care probabilitatea de a abandona facultatea în primul an de studii este ridicata, cu precadere a celor apartinând unor grupuri dezavantajate. Acestia vor participa la diferite activitati remediale si de consiliere: workshop-uri în domenii specifice, programe remediale, activitati de coaching si dezvoltare personala, activitati de îndrumare si sprijin (tutoriat); activitati de dezvoltare a competentelor socio-emotionale; evenimente dedicate orientarii în cariera si efectuarea de vizite de studiu”, au mai precizat cei de la „Cuza”.
Prin implementarea acestor proiecte, Universitatea „Alexandru Ioan Cuza” din Iasi vizeaza cresterea motivarii si accesului studentilor dezavantajati la o educatie de calitate, scaderea ratei de abandon la încheierea primului an de învatamânt superior precum si îmbunatatirea colaborarii dintre toti factorii implicati în procesul de educatie (cadre didactice, personal auxiliar, studenti etc.).
Publicație : Bună Ziua Iași
UMF Iaşi, pe locul al doilea în topurile admiterii la nivel naţional
Cifrele de la admiterea de anul acesta ne arată că Universitatea de Medicină şi Farmacie „Grigore T. Popa“ din Iaşi este a doua ca mărime şi importanţă la nivel naţional, după cea din Bucureşti, comparând datele de la admiterea de anul acesta cu cele înregistrate de celelalte cinci universităţi de profil din ţară.
Anul acesta, la cele şase instituţii de învăţământ superior s-au înscris aproximativ 10.800 de tineri, pe 3.922 de locuri la buget şi 2.009 de locuri scoase la taxă.
UMF Iaşi intră în trendul naţional în ceea ce priveşte atractivitatea studiilor la farmacie – în mod concret, deşi concurenţa generală este de 2,75 de candidaţi pe un loc bugetat, la farmacie, 4 din cele 6 universităţi de profil nu şi-au ocupat integral locurile la buget, iar dintre celelalte două, Bucureştiul a ocupat pe hârtie locurile, 181 de candidaţi pe 150 de locuri (e posibil ca după examen să rămână locuri libere), iar la Craiova sunt foarte puţine: 30 la număr.
La nivel de concurenţă, Iaşul a fost pe locul al doilea la nivel naţional la numărul de dosare depuse la Medicină Generală. În total au fost depuse 5.900 în toată ţara, la Târgu Mureş fiind 3,79 de candidaţi pe loc bugetat, la Iaşi 3,71, la Bucureşti au fost 3,08 candidaţi/loc, la UMF Cluj Napoca 2,57, iar la Timişoara 2,60.
În ceea ce priveşte numărul total de studenţi ce pot fi înmatriculaţi la buget, (proporţiile păstrându-se şi dacă luăm în calcul locurile de la taxă) vedem că UMF Iaşi este pe locul al doilea la nivel naţional, cu 725 de locuri, Bucureştiul conduce cu 1.150, la Cluj sunt 648, la Craiova 373, la Târgu Mureş 506, iar la Timişoara 518.
Iaşul este pe locul al doilea, prin urmare, şi ca număr de candidaţi, la diferenţă mult mai mare faţă de locul al III-lea. Dacă la Bucureşti au fost 3.077 de candidaţi, la Iaşi au fost 2.380, la Cluj 1.728, la Timişoara 1.421, iar la Craiova şi Târgu Mureş de abia au fost mai mult de 1.000, fiind 1.088, respectiv 1.064.
Practic, Iaşul şi Bucureştiul adună două treimi din candidaţii la medicină din întreaga ţară, iar Iaşul a fost declarat anul trecut primul centru universitar medical din ţară ca număr de studenţi străini înmatriculaţi.
Concurenţă mare la specializări de nişă
Există şi o serie de concurenţe foarte mari înregistrate la nivelul UMF-urilor, în general la specializări de nişă cu puţine locuri la buget. Asistenţa Medicală Generală de la Timişoara, spre exemplu, care are doar 15 locuri la buget şi 85 la taxă, a avut 175 de candidaţi, făcând concurenţa pe un loc bugetat de 11,66/loc.
Ultima medie la buget, pentru cele 15 locuri, a fost aici de 9,94. Şi Asistenţa Medicală Generală de la Iaşi a avut o concurenţă foarte mare – 6,84 de candidaţi / loc, cu 55 de locuri la buget, 132 la taxă şi 376 de candidaţi.
Nu doar concurenţa este similară la facultăţile de medicină, şi ultimele medii de intrare la buget şi taxă sunt în linii mari comparabile: la Iaşi s-a intrat la buget cu note mai mari de 8,79, la taxă cu note de la 8,23 în sus, la Bucureşti, la buget, cu 8,1, la Cluj-Napoca cu 7,29 la buget şi 7,25 la taxă (cele 20 de locuri de la taxă s-au ocupat cu diferenţe de 0,04 din notă), la Craiova 8,83 buget şi 8,43 taxă, la Timişoara 8,41 buget şi 7,7 la taxă.
Doar la Târgu Mureş se remarcă note cu mult mai mici faţă de celelalte universităţi din ţară, 6,52 la buget şi 5,81 la taxă, fiind şi singura universitate de profil din ţară care susţine examenul dintr-o singură materie, la alegere, Biologie sau Chimie Organică, când restul au obligatoriu două materii.
Publicație : Ziarul de Iași
Universitatea din Bucureşti are cel mai mare număr de candidaţi din ultimii trei ani. Peste 100 de elevi olimpici s-au înscris la UB
Aproape 22.000 de candidaţi (21.937) au ales să îşi continue studiile superioare de licenţă la cele 19 facultăţi ale Universităţii din Bucureşti. Acesta reprezintă cel mai mare număr de candidaţi din ultimii trei ani.
Astfel, dacă în 2017 Universitatea din Bucureşti a înregistrat peste 20.800 de înscrişi la programele de studii universitare de licenţă, în 2018 datele generale au arătat un număr de aproape 21.500 de candidaţi care au optat să studieze la una din facultăţile UniBuc.
Universitatea din Bucureşti a înregistrat astfel o concurenţă de aproape 5 candidaţi înscrişi/loc bugetat.
Mai mult, anul acesta 106 elevi olimpici au ales Universitatea din Bucureşti pentru continuarea studiilor şi formarea lor academică. Dintre aceştia, „37 au optat pentru Facultatea de Limbi şi Literaturi Străine, 26 pentru Facultatea de Matematică şi Informatică, 12 au optat pentru Facultatea de Geografie, 10 pentru Facultatea de Litere, 5 pentru Facultatea de Ştiinţe Politice, câte 4 pentru Facultatea de Fizică şi Facultatea de Psihologie şi Ştiinţele Educaţiei, câte 3 pentru Facultatea de Filosofie şi pentru Facultatea de Teologie Ortodoxă „Justinian Patriarhul”, iar 2 olimpici au optat pentru Facultatea de Chimie.
Având în vedere scăderea continuă a absolvenţilor de liceu care au absolvit bacalaureatul, tabloul general al admiterii din acest an confirmă interesul crescut al tinerilor pentru studiul şi formarea într-o comunitate academică de tradiţie” se arată în comunicatul de presă.
În sesiunea iulie 2019, 3.650 de candidaţi au ales să se înscrie pe cele 2.424 de locuri bugetate puse la dispoziţie pentru studii universitare de master.
Pentru candidaţii la admiterea din acest an, Universitatea din Bucureşti a oferit o serie de facilităţi, precum achitarea online a taxei de înscriere, cazare gratuită în căminele proprii, dar şi acces gratuit în spaţiul Grădinii Botanice „Dimitrie Brândză”.
Nu în ultimul rând, Universitatea din Bucureşti oferă studenţilor şi profesorilor membri ai comunităţii academice şi oportunitatea studiului într-o prestigioasă comunitate internaţională, articulată în jurul Consorţiului CIVIS – Alianţa Universitară Civică Europeană, din care fac parte universităţi din Franţa, Grecia, Belgia, Spania, Italia, Suedia şi Germania.
Publicație : Adevărul
Unconditional university offers on the rise for 18-year-olds
Ucas figures show that 38% of would-be undergraduates received offers with unconditional component
A total of 257,910 18-year-olds from England, Northern Ireland and Wales applied for university through Ucas before the deadline this year. Photograph: Alamy
Nearly two fifths of 18-year-old applicants to university received an unconditional offer this year, according to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.
The Ucas figures show a rise from last year, with 97,045 (38%) of would-be undergraduates in England, Wales and Northern Ireland receiving an offer with an unconditional component in 2019, compared with 87,540, or 34%, in 2018.
A total of 257,910 18-year-old students from England, Northern Ireland and Wales applied for university through Ucas before the 30 June deadline this year.
Unconditional offers are often offered to students whose qualifications are still pending, meaning their grades are predicted rather than achieved.
A report published by Ucas in 2018, showed that students holding a confirmed place on an undergraduate were more likely to fall short of their predicted grades than those with conditional offers.
Clare Marchant, the admissions organisation’s chief executive, said: “Students’ best interests must be the number-one consideration for universities and colleges when making offers.
“The use of unconditional offers remains a complex issue and continues to evolve. We look forward to working with the Office for Students and Universities UK on their respective upcoming admissions practice reviews, to deliver meaningful recommendations.”
The report also found that applicants from the most disadvantaged areas were 50% more likely to receive an unconditional offer than those from the most advantaged areas.
A quarter of applicants from England, Northern Ireland and Wales who are 18, received a “conditional unconditional” offer, up from a fifth at this point last year. Conditional unconditional offers are initially made by universities as conditional – or dependent on the grades a student achieves – then updated to unconditional if the offer is accepted as the student’s firm choice.
Overall, 80% of 18-year-old applicants received an offer of either conditional, unconditional, or conditional unconditional in 2019.
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “There is a place for unconditional offers, however this data highlights the continued rise in their use and we know some students who accept unconditional offers can be more likely to miss their predicted A-level grades.
“We also have particular concerns about the use of conditional unconditional offers, which can potentially pressure students into accepting a place which may not the best option for them.”
As most Scottish applicants already have Scottish Higher qualifications, which often form part of the entry requirements for university courses, they were not included in the analysis by Ucas.
In January, statistics from the organisation showed that a small group of institutions relying heavily on unconditional offers to attract students were responsible for the sharp rise in their use.
Publicație : The Guardian
Anti-racism activists end Goldsmiths occupation
University will introduce ‘race awareness’ training for staff, among other measures
Anti-racism campaigners have ended a long-running occupation on a university campus in London, saying the institution has met their demands.
The activists took control of Deptford town hall on the campus of Goldsmiths, University of London in March and demanded a series of measures be taken. Relations between the two sides became severely strained as the university sought and won a high court order against the occupation.
In an open letter to students and staff on Monday, the acting warden, Prof Elisabeth Hill, acknowledged the “passion and commitment” the activists had shown. “While [university management] cannot condone some of their means of protest, they have provided us with a wake-up call to take action by sharing their experience and insight,” she wrote.
The 137-day protest ended at the weekend after hours of talks that dragged into Friday evening despite a court order having been granted in the university’s favour that day. The campaigners from Goldsmiths Anti-Racist Action said they had “won extensive demands to combat institutional racism at the university”.
In her letter, Hill said both sides had agreed to make compromises and that the university would introduce mandatory “race awareness” training for staff and review its anti-discrimination and harassment procedures, among other measures.
The activists had also sought to tackle gentrification, outsourcing and cuts to course provision. The parties agreed that the local community should be allowed to use the occupied building, which the university bought in 2000, and that security staff should be brought in-house and lost contact hours should be reinstated.
Moreover, the two parties agreed that scholarships for Palestinian students, won by a previous student occupation 10 years ago, should be reinstated. The document said the two scholarships would return for the start of the academic year 2020-21.
The document was peppered with disclaimers from the activists, who said further protest action would follow if the university failed to live up to the promises made.
The campaigners occupied the building on 12 March in protest at what they described as the “lack of anti-racist action from senior management” after a candidate in student union elections was allegedly subjected to racist abuse.
The institution was granted a possession order over the building by a judge at the high court on the same day the parties eventually reached an agreement.
Goldsmiths was criticised over the move, including by the local MP, Labour’s Vicky Foxcroft. She told the university that the “legitimate concerns of the students need to be heard in a dignified and transparent way” and implored the institution to cancel the legal action.
After the protest ended, the campaigners derided Goldsmiths’ “reputation for ‘progressive’ politics”, claiming the university had pursued the court action to force the activists to back down.
Publicație : The Guardian
Brexit uncertainty compounds Northern Ireland’s HE woes
Lack of a functioning executive and threat of a no-deal Brexit have put Northern Irish universities in jeopardy: could a new university help?
The Northern Ireland Bill that passed its final stage on 22 July was historic: it provisionally lifted the ban on abortion and approved same-sex marriage in the nation.
The main purpose of the bill had been to keep Northern Ireland and its public services functioning, as the nation has been left without a devolved government since the power-sharing agreement between the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin collapsed in March 2017. However, Westminster MPs took the opportunity to address a number of other pressing issues for Northern Ireland through amendments to the bill – among them, higher education.
One amendment, put forward by Labour peer and former education minister Lord Adonis, said that there must be “a report on the improvement of higher education provision in Northern Ireland and the establishment of a university whose principal campus is in Derry/Londonderry”.
Lord Adonis said that two and a half years with no devolved government had left higher education in Northern Ireland in a “very unsatisfactory condition”, a statement that meets with agreement from experts across the sector.
“The issue is simple. There is an inadequate number of higher education places in Northern Ireland. This is a long-standing issue, but it has been getting progressively worse as education participation has risen across the United Kingdom,” Lord Adonis told the House of Lords.
However, the problems facing universities in Northern Ireland go beyond the number of student places available – even when leaving the issue of Brexit aside. Higher education in Northern Ireland had been suffering from underfunding for years before the executive collapsed.
In Northern Ireland, tuition fees are capped below the rate of English universities – at £4,275 in 2019-20 – with government subsidy supposedly making up the rest to put funding on par with the rest of the UK. As the Northern Ireland government faced budget difficulties, that top-up flatlined and Northern Ireland’s universities have had to cut jobs and cap their student numbers.
The problems began in earnest in 2011, but they worsened in 2015-16 when the government announced that it was reducing higher education funding by £8.6 million, leading to consequences for Northern Ireland’s two universities. In 2015, Queen’s University Belfast announced that it was cutting 236 jobs and 1,010 student places. That same year, Ulster University announced that it was cutting 210 jobs and 1,200 student places.
Universities in Northern Ireland now get about £2,000 less per student than English institutions.
Figures suggest that there are now 50 per cent more undergraduate places per capita for the general population in England than there are in Northern Ireland.
Ulster University’s Magee campus in Derry has submitted plans to expand its campus there, particularly to create a medical school, but it cannot push ahead without approval from a functioning executive. The only medical school in Northern Ireland is based at Queen’s University Belfast, and a recent report from the Department of Health said that the nation needs at least 100 more medical students a year to meet the increasing demand for doctors.
There is strong local support for a stand-alone university in Derry, alongside the expansion of Ulster’s campus in the city, where numbers have slumped from 4,658 in 2014-15 to 4,313 in 2018-19, according to data gathered under the Freedom of Information Act.
Local councillors have expressed “outrage” at the decades of neglect for student numbers in Derry, and in July unanimously passed a motion to support all options for expanding university provision.
Garbhan Downey, spokesman for the Derry University Group, a former Derry correspondent for the Irish News and former director of communications for Derry’s UK City of Culture project, said that momentum for an independent Derry university has increased dramatically in the past few years. “Derry is already the most Brexit-impacted city on these islands, with business and political uncertainty at a 20-year high,” the worst since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement securing peace in Northern Ireland, he said.
“The city’s needs are evident. Pick any set of social indices over the past 50 years and Derry – with its decades of isolation – will be either the worst or the next worst,” he told Times Higher Education. “The Derry University Group has met with senior parliamentarians in London and Dublin and repeatedly made it clear that the single most important element in this region’s recovery would be a dedicated stand-alone university. We are currently the fourth-priority campus of Belfast’s second university – why should a city famous for its millennia of scholars not have the best university on this island?”
However, Gerry McKenna, vice-president of the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) and former vice-chancellor of Ulster University, cautioned against relying on a new university in Derry, because any expansion was limited by the “chronic underfunding” of higher education. All campuses in Northern Ireland have been affected, Derry was not singled out, he said.
But there is very limited overt political support for increased university funding in Northern Ireland, he added.
There is also a chronic infrastructure deficit in the north west of Ireland: in roads, rail, other public transport, and airport facilities; and tackling one under-resourced issue without addressing the others will have limited sustainable economic or social impact, Professor McKenna argued.
One of the main problems is that there is no oversight or coordination of tertiary education in Northern Ireland, he said. “There is a need for the establishment of a Tertiary Education Council to provide strategic oversight and planning of HE, FE, and their integration, to ensure the efficient provision, including spatial distribution, of a fit-for-purpose system and to make a sustained case to the NI Executive for adequate funding for HE and research.
“This, plus integrated infrastructure funding for the north-west region and increased student places, is what is needed rather than setting up another expensive university administration, the costs of which would have to be taken from funding for student places or research,” he continued.
However, compounding all these problems is the ever present spectre of Brexit.
The complications of leaving the European Union have been made abundantly clear by the wrangling over the backstop, which aims to ensure that there is no hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. If the UK crashes out without a deal, there will be very specific problems for the border in Northern Ireland, no matter what anyone says, according to Professor McKenna. Alongside the return of political instability and the negative impact on trade, a hard border will also affect universities badly in other ways, he argued.
Part of the issue here is that Ulster University’s students and staff in Derry cross the border between the UK and the rest of the EU on a daily basis (the Magee campus is only 5 miles from the border with the Republic of Ireland). About 1,200 students from the Republic attend the campus and 20 per cent of campus staff live there.
“It’s very hard to plan in an uncertain future,” according to Professor McKenna. “Brexit has the potential to have a greater negative impact on Northern Ireland than any other UK region.”
Like other UK universities, Northern Ireland’s institutions benefit from EU research funding via Horizon 2020. Although the UK government has promised to underwrite any already approved funding, institutions remain unsure about their ability to participate in the next EU research programme after Brexit.
Unlike in the rest of the UK, for Northern Ireland, partnerships with colleagues over the border in the Republic of Ireland are crucial: 63 per cent of successful Northern Irish Horizon 2020 projects involve research partners in the Republic.
“Encouraged by the Good Friday Agreement, the island of Ireland continues to accrue significant benefits from the development of a de facto all-island research system,” according to a 2017 RIA report. “Leaving aside the instrumental arguments highlighting the economic impact of the HE sector, it is arguable that HE plays an even more critical role in promoting the functioning of a stable post-conflict society in Northern Ireland,” the report said.
The EU has also funded specific programmes to promote stability on the island of Ireland, operating across the near-invisible border between the two nations, including via higher education and research. The PEACE programme, promoting social cohesion, and the Interreg scheme, a regional structural funding project that supports research infrastructure such as science parks, have been key here.
“We are also disproportionately reliant on EU structural funds for research capacity building,” Professor McKenna said. The UK government has pledged to set up a Shared Prosperity Fund to replace these, but there are concerns and key questions yet to be answered, he added. “What size will that be? Will the funds be devolved? If they are, will they be ring-fenced? Because there is the danger that in an underfunded situation, the NI Executive could raid such funds.”
The RIA has called for a funding initiative supported by the Northern Ireland Executive and the governments of the Republic of Ireland, the UK and the EU to protect existing and promote enhanced R&D interaction, including joint research centres, shared PhD programmes, and regional research capability enhancement funding.
Professor McKenna said: “Brexit makes it a necessity for the HE systems in Ireland, North and South, and their respective funding regimes, to work cooperatively and synergistically in a way that should have been happening even if the referendum had never occurred.”
Publicație : The Times
Legalise it: US universities urge looser rules on marijuana research
Scientists still stymied by federal restrictions as legalisation in states increases demand for answers on risk and benefits
US universities are struggling to meet surging public demand for research on the benefits and risks of cannabis, blaming the federal government’s continuing classification of marijuana as a prohibited drug.
In letters this month to the US Food and Drug Administration, universities warnedthat current restrictions on researchers investigating marijuana are raising the cost, the time and the risk of studying treatments for a range of health ailments.
The problem is so severe, said Agnes Balla, a research policy manager in the University of California system, that it is taking scientists six months just to get the necessary federal approvals to begin a study.
Researchers then face a barrage of ongoing federal obstacles, including severe restrictions on marijuana supplies, rules for tightly controlled facilities, extensive documenting and disposal requirements, and announced and unannounced visits by inspectors, she said.
“Many of our researchers have battle scars from jumping through all these hoops,” Ms Balla said.
That is despite the fact that California was the first state to legalise medical marijuana, back in 1996, and is now one of 11 US states that have now made the drug legal even for recreational purposes.
There are stores selling marijuana to the public “right down the block from us”, Ms Balla said, “but researchers can’t use that in their research protocols”.
The federal barriers and the uncertainty – even when most US states have now legalised the medical use of cannabis – are frustrating doctors and patients who wish to understand marijuana’s best and safest therapeutic uses, Ms Balla said.
That is seen by some advocates as especially urgent given the great nationwide concern about the danger of using opioids as pain relievers – now killing some 70,000 Americans a year. An expert assessment by the National Academies of Sciences in 2017 identified the treatment of chronic pain as one of the most promising uses of cannabis and related products.
Other recognised uses include treating the nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, and calming muscle spasms in adults with multiple sclerosis, the study said. The research also warned of potential risks, in such areas as social anxiety disorders and decreased learning and memory skills. Experts compiling the analysis agreed that the federal government needed to encourage rather than hinder the necessary scientific investigations.
Some marijuana-related research is taking place at most, if not all, of the UC system’s 10 research-intensive campuses, exploring both potential benefits and harms. They include studies at the University of California, San Francisco using cannabis-derived cannabidiol in treating a child with epilepsy, and at the University of California, Irvine looking at the long-term effect of cannabis exposure on the adolescent brain.
Congress did act last December to end its treatment of hemp – a low-potency form of cannabis – as an illegal narcotic. But a leading association representing research universities, the Council on Governmental Relations, told the FDA this month that its rules for researchers working with cannabis, including hemp, still remain extremely cumbersome and confusing. The FDA invited the public to comment on its handling of marijuana-related research and received more than 4,000 responses.
A big part of the problem is supply, university experts said. For more than 50 years, the federal government has authorised a single facility at the University of Mississippi as the nation’s only legal producer of marijuana for research.
Three years after promising to allow other producers, and despite receiving more than two dozen applications for the work, the government still has allowed no alternatives, the Council on Governmental Relations said. Left to supply the nation, the University of Mississippi’s annual output is now reported at 2 tonnes (1,800kg), its highest level in five years.
The situation greatly limits the ability of US researchers to test a variety of strains of cannabis and the compounds that could be made from them, Ms Balla said.
Another major barrier concerns funding, she said. Most university research involving cannabis is financed by the federal government, typically through the National Institutes of Health. States and some non-profit foundations also contribute, Ms Balla said. But a potentially major source of money – the private companies in the marijuana industry – are generally too afraid to act, she said, because the federal government has not made clear what exactly it would treat as legal.
There is, nevertheless, at least some sign of progress, said Arthur B. Ellis, the vice-president for research and graduate studies in the University of California system. The average of six months that it now takes researchers to get the federal approvals they need to study cannabis is only half as long as it was a year ago, he said.
At least by that measure, Dr Ellis said, “it’s moving in the right direction”.
Publicație : The Times
Government pressure fails to stem rise in unconditional offers
Thirty-eight per cent of 18-year-old applicants received at least one offer with an unconditional component in 2019, Ucas data show
Nearly two in five 18-year-olds applying to university from England, Wales and Northern Ireland received at least one unconditional offer this year, according to Ucas figures.
Data from the admissions service show 97,045 students without exam results received an offer with an unconditional component in 2019, 38 per cent of the total, up from 87,540 – 34 per cent – in 2018.
By the 30 June deadline, 7.8 per cent of all offers made to 18-year-old applicants from the three territories were unconditional, an increase from 7.1 per cent in 2018. In 2013, less than 1 per cent of offers were unconditional.
This year Ucas included ‘conditional unconditional’ offers – conditional offers that become unconditional if applicants choose that institution as their first choice – when calculating the figures.
This year the number of 18-year-olds receiving this kind of offer grew from 52,145 (around a fifth of applicants) in 2018 to 63,830 (around a quarter) in 2019.
The figures for 2019 also showed that applicants from the most disadvantaged areas were 50 per cent more likely to receive an unconditional offer than applicants from the most advantaged areas: 30 per cent of applicants from the most disadvantaged areas received an unconditional offer in 2019, compared with 20 per cent from the least disadvantaged.
England’s regulator has previously warned that unconditional offers “with strings attached” were “akin to pressure selling” and earlier this year Damian Hinds, then education secretary, wrote to 23 universities calling on them to stop issuing conditional unconditional offers.
Previous Ucas analysis has shown that more than two-thirds of 18-year-old university applicants in England who held an unconditional offer for a place on a course missed their predicted A-level results by at least two grades.
The latest figures come shortly after Universities UK announced a “major review” of university admissions processes, whose remit will include addressing unconditional offers and potentially recommending a shift to post-qualifications admissions.
The government has also commissioned the Office for Students to conduct its own review of admissions practices. Chris Millward, director for fair access and participation at the OfS, said it was “concerning” to see a further increase in the rate of unconditional offers made “which actually come with strings attached”.
“The danger of these conditional unconditional offers is that students feel pressurised to accept a place on a course which might not turn out to be their best option. All registered providers are bound by a condition of registration on consumer law, and the OfS is prepared to act where it sees evidence of ‘pressure selling’ practices which are at risk of breaching consumer law,” Mr Millward said.
In response to the Ucas figures, Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of UUK, said there were “clear benefits in universities being able to use a variety of offer making practices to reflect an individual student’s circumstances, potential and the context of their application, and to support different groups such as students from disadvantaged backgrounds”.
“An important principle of the UK system is that universities decide independently which students they accept; but with this comes a responsibility to explain why and how places are awarded, and to show the public and students why different types of offers are made,” Mr Jarvis said.
Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, agreed that institutional autonomy in admissions was important but added that universities “are in the midst of a battle to protect that autonomy, and the continuing expansion of ‘conditional unconditional’ offers is making it harder to win”.
Publicație : The Times
Universities must exorcise their ghost students
More must be done to understand and help students who register for courses but then fade into the ether, says Bret Stephenson
Most seasoned university teaching staff will have encountered them at some point in their careers. They are the mysterious “ghost” or “no-show” students who enrol in your modules, sometimes in significant numbers, but then fail to attempt any assessment tasks. In many cases, these students also avoid the lectures and tutorials, or don’t participate in online learning activities.
Critically, the true ghost student will fail to withdraw from the module prior to their institution’s stipulated withdrawal dates, resulting in both a record of academic failure and a greater accumulation of student debt.
Universities also stand to lose out from ghosting behaviours as they exact a significant impact on important measures of institutional quality, such as completion and progression rates. As governments, funding bodies and rankings organisations scrutinise such metrics, you might expect the university sector to be rushing to understand and address this perplexing but relatively common student behaviour in order to improve their scores. Yet this has not been the case. Research on ghost students remains surprisingly scarce.
One explanation might be that ghost student failures have fallen into something of a statistical blind spot. The high-level metrics that universities are required to report to government bodies frequently exclude information relating to module-level outcomes. And with no distinction being drawn between the types, or the severity, of student failure, the ghosts are lost within the machinery of institutional reporting.
At La Trobe University’s Centre for Higher Education Equity and Diversity Research, we have recently conducted a broad institutional study of ghosting behaviours at a large public university in Australia. Our aim has been to recognise the possible scope of the problem and to better understand the underlying patterns of ghosting behaviours.
Across seven years of institutional data, and about 1.3 million individual module records, we found that approximately one-quarter of all bachelor’s student failures were consistent with failure by ghosting behaviours. In the study institution’s worst year for ghosting, 2013, we found that approximately 3.4 per cent of all individual bachelor’s-level module enrolments resulted from ghosting. And although postgraduate-by-coursework students have much lower rates of failure than undergraduates, in many years ghosting failures made up as much as half of the total failures that do occur among this cohort.
At first blush, these may appear to be small percentages, but when multiplied across many years, or extrapolated to a national student population, the broad scope of the issue becomes more concerning. Each year, many thousands of students are impacted by ghosting failures, while millions of public and private education dollars go to waste.
It is encouraging to find that the ghosting rate at our study institution has been in steady decline since its peak in 2013. This is likely due in part to sustained institutional efforts aimed at improving student success, suggesting that universities can do much to address the problem. Not least of these is the early detection of ghosting behaviours, followed by effective intervention.
But we should also be wary of hasty measures that may prove counterproductive; we also need greater transparency of institutional data and more research into what motivates ghosting behaviours. Some have suggested that ghosts are simply ignorant of census or withdrawal dates, but others wonder if they may be exploiting financial assistance schemes.
Our own research suggests that most students with a ghosting record tend to disengage from individual modules selectively, if not strategically. We found that only 30 per cent of them have ghosted all their enrolled modules, which would suggest that they were never genuine students. For the other 70 per cent, things are more complex, and we need to better understand what might be motivating the behaviour. It is likely that in some cases mental health issues may be at the root of the problem, or it may be that the psychological concept of “performance avoidance” is playing a role.
We should not, however, neglect to question what ghosting may be signalling in relation to institutional quality. Although there are likely to be many factors at play, institutions may need to confront the uncomfortable possibility that poor teaching and curriculum design may be contributing to the problem.
There is likely to be one additional explanation for why we see surprisingly little acknowledgement of the ghosting problem in higher education. Not only can ghosting failures be a cause of potential institutional embarrassment, they may also present something of a perverse incentive for some providers. Where ghosting failures still result in an institution’s receiving the full student fee for a failed enrolment, the potential for moral hazard is apparent. In this scenario, a provider may hesitate to take the opportunity to reduce rates of student failure if that entailed lower enrolment and a corresponding reduction in revenue.
In the Australian context, that risk appears to be fading. As governments place greater importance on metrics of teaching and learning quality and further scope out the possibility of performance-based funding schemes, institutions are particularly focused on quality improvements. In this atmosphere, few universities will be content to ignore the ghosts in their machines.
Publicație : The Times