PREMIERA! Imagini cu noua constructie din Gradina Botanica, realizata de Universitatea „Cuza” din Iasi
Universitatea „Alexandru Ioan Cuza” – UAIC din Iasi se apropie de finalizarea unei interesante si ingenioase constructii in Gradina Botanica „Anastasie Fatu” • „Este vorba despre un proiect prioritar de investitii, unde UAIC si-a propus sa amenajeze un spatiu în care vizitatorii sa poata achizitiona suveniruri cu însemnele Universitatii sau consuma bauturi non-alcoolice, dar si gustari produse la Cantina Universitatii. În prezent, lucrarile de executie sunt în derulare, având ca termen de finalizare luna septembrie 2019. Valoarea proiectului depaseste 400.000 de lei”, a transmis prof. univ. dr. Tudorel Toader, rectorul institutiei
O interesanta constructie se apropie de finalizare chiar in Gradina Botanica „Anastasie Fatu” din Iasi. În acest sens au fost efectuate demersuri, începând cu anul 2016, pe perioada mandatului prof. univ. dr. Tudorel Toader – rectorul ales al Universitatii „Alexandru Ioan Cuza” (UAIC). Valoarea contractului este de 393.936 lei, în data de 21 martie 2019 fiind semnat ordinul de începere a lucrarilor. In anul 2016 a fost obtinut Certificatul de urbanism în scopul amplasarii constructiei provizorii.
În anul 2017 a fost prelungita valabilitatea Certificatului de urbanism si s-a încheiat contractul pentru realizarea serviciilor de Proiectare si Asistenta Tehnica aferente investitiei „Gradina Botanica – constructie provizorie”.
In 2018 s-a finalizat proiectarea, s-a obtinut autorizatia de constructie. S-a demarat procedura de achizitie servicii lucrari executie, fiind desemnat un câstigator, dupa ce la prima procedura nu s-a prezentat niciun ofertant.
„Pe amplasamentul Gradinii Botanice din Iasi se propune realizarea unei constructii provizorii cu suprafata de 85 mp pentru desfasurarea de activitati specifice petrecerii timpului liber. Constructia provizorie va fi personalizata, executata pe structura usoara, demontabila, mobila, fara fundatie, urmând a fi montata pe amplasamentul stabilit punctual în cadrul Gradinii Botanice Iasi. Aceasta va fi amplasata pe strada Dumbrava Rosie, in apropierea intrarii principale in Gradina din Copou. Licitatia pentru constructia acesteia este in derulare, avand doi ofertanti. Ca functional se propun: spatiu expunere suveniruri, spatiu pentru cafenea/ceainarie, grup sanitar si spatiu pentru depozitare marfa. Pentru a profita de potentialul ambiental ridicat al Gradinii Botanice Iasi, pe doua laturi ale constructiei se va amenaja o terasa cu o capacitate de aproximativ 20 de locuri pe o suprafata de 56 mp”, a precizat rectorul de la „Cuza”
Publicație : Bună Ziua Iași
Interes maxim pentru facultatile de la Universitatea ”Al. I Cuza”. Vezi situatia inscrierilor pentru studiile de licenta si de master
Tot mai multi absolventi si-au depus dosare la facultatile de la Universitatea Al. I Cuza dupa a doua zi de admitere. Universitatea „Alexandru Ioan Cuza” din Iasi a inregistrat, dupa a doua zi a sesiunii de admitere 2019, 6257 de inscrieri: 5159 la studii de licenta, 1098 inscrieri la studii de master.
Din totalul de 6257 de inscrieri, se remarca faptul ca 816 au fost efectuate online, dintre care 693 la studii de licenta si 123 la studii de master. Oportunitatea inscrierii online a fost bine primita si in randul romanilor de pretutindeni, fiind inregistrate 554 de dosare.
Vezi AICI lista completa cu situatia inscrierilor, studii universitare de licenta – Sesiunea IULIE 2019.
Publicație : Bună Ziua Iași
Admiterea de anul acesta la universităţile din Iaşi anunţă doborârea multor recorduri
Admiterea de anul acesta de la universităţile din Iaşi este una care anunţă doborârea mai multor recorduri. Doar la o simplă trecere în revistă se remarcă un fenomen aparte anul acesta: la Universitatea „Al.I. Cuza”, deja s-a depăşit numărul de dosare depuse anul trecut la licenţă, conform organizatorilor, aproape dublul numărului de locuri la buget scoase la concurs, la Politehnică este cel mai mare număr de candidaţi într-o singură zi de la implementarea sistemului unic de admitere, aproape 900, în timp ce la Universitatea de Medicină şi Farmacie a fost nevoie să se prelungească programul de înscriere pentru că la ora 14 era o coadă de persoane care se întindea în Piaţa Naţiunilor.
„Cuza” – În mod concret, doar în ziua de ieri la UAIC s-au depus peste 3.000 de dosare, numărul total ajungând la peste 6.800, pe hârtie şi online, majoritatea facultăţilor având acoperite, în teorie, locurile de la buget în momentul de faţă. Spre exemplu, la Facultatea de Drept sunt 524 de dosare depuse, la FEAA 1.553, chiar şi la Fizică sunt mai multe dosare depuse decât numărul de locuri la buget, doar la unele specializări de la Geografie şi Geologie au mai rămas locuri libere la buget, şi la cele două facultăţi de Teologie. Nu este clar dacă cele 700 de dosare depuse online se încadrează deja în cele 6.800 sau sunt suplimentare, dar în orice caz este un număr foarte mare de dosare depuse până în momentul de faţă, fapt asumat şi în poziţia publică a universităţii.
UMF – Aici sunt depuse 463 de dosare în total la Facultatea de Medicină Generală în ziua de ieri, numărul total fiind de 1.033 pe 365 locuri bugetate, deja o concurenţă de 2,5 candidaţi pe un loc la specializarea de Medicină. Ieri au fost depuse, de altfel, 742 de dosare la UMF în condiţiile în care există 725 de locuri la buget. Pe restul facultăţilor, situaţia este în felul următor: 269 la Medicină Dentară, 69 la Farmacie, unde mai sunt 30 de locuri la buget disponibile, 227 la Bioinginerie Medicală cu 138 scoase la buget. Practic, în afară de Farmacie, doar la Tehnică Dentară, Nutriţie şi Dietetică, dar la taxă, nu s-au ocupat toate locurile.
USAMV – La Universitatea de Ştiinţe Agricole şi Medicină Veterinară „Ion Ionescu de la Brad“ au fost depuse în total 212 dosare în cursul zilei de ieri, ajungând la 438 în total, cu 640 de locuri la buget scoase pe universitate. Practic, la Agricultură sunt în prezent depuse 185 de dosare, la Horticultură 43, la Zootehnie 112 şi Medicina Veterinară şi-a ocupat deja locurile, 98 de dosare pe 93 de locuri bugetate. Admiterea se va închide la unele universităţi în această vineri, dar sunt şi o parte ce vor primi dosare şi săptămâna viitoare.
Publicație : Ziarul de Iași
Ultima zi de înscriere la Arhitectură. Situația la celelalte facultăți din cadrul TUIAȘI
Astăzi este ultima zi de depunere a dosarelor pentru Facultatea de Arhitectură de la Politehnica ieşeană, până la finalul zilei de ieri fiind depuse 182 de dosare pentru cele 88 de locuri de la buget. Astfel, deşi astăzi se încheie perioada de depunere a dosarelor la această facultate, deja sunt doi studenţi pe un loc.
Aproape doi studenţi pe un loc sunt şi la Facultatea de Automatică şi Calculatoare, unde au fost depuse 580 de dosare pentru locurile la buget şi 9 pentru cele la taxă, fiind disponibile 308 locuri la buget şi 19 la taxă. În cadrul acestei facultăţi admiterea se încheie pe data de 20 iunie.
Un fenomen interesant în cadrul admiterii de la Universitatea Tehnică este acela că numărul de dosare depuse a crescut ieri cu 50% faţă de ziua precedentă. Astfel, dacă în prima săptămână de admitere au fost depuse doar 128 de dosare pentru locurile la buget şi taxă, luni, pe 15 iulie, au fost depuse doar într-o zi 346 de dosare. La finalul zilei de 16 iulie, la Universitatea Tehnică erau însă înscrişi peste o mie de candidaţi, deci numărul de dosare s-a dublat. Acelaşi fenomen a putut fi observat şi în cursul zilei de ieri, când au fost depuse aproape 850 de dosare, 11 pentru locurile la taxă şi 836 pentru cele la buget, în total fiind înscrişi 1.954 de candidaţi unici, 1.906 pentru locurile la buget şi 48 pentru cele la taxă.
Un număr mare de dosare au fost depuse şi la Facultatea de Electronică, 302 dosare la buget şi 6 la taxă pentru cele 285 de locuri bugetate şi 38 la taxă, iar la Mecanică au fost depuse 238 de dosare pentru locurile la buget şi 16 pentru cele la taxă, fiind disponibile 318 locuri la buget şi 75 la taxă.
Admiterea la 9 dintre cele 11 facultăţi de la Politehnica ieşeană se încheie pe 25 iulie. Pentru admiterea la studiile de masterat au fost depuse ieri 131 de dosare pentru locurile la buget şi 5 pentru cele la taxă, fiind depuse în total un număr de 547 de dosare la buget şi 11 la taxă. Cele mai multe dosare la masterat au fost depuse la Construcţii şi Instalaţii, 113 la buget şi 5 la taxă, iar cele mai puţine la Mecanică, unde nu a fost depus niciun dosar.
Publicație : Ziarul de Iași
Program finanţat de MEN şi coordonat de Facultatea de Medicină Dentară
150 de elevi vin la UMF să vadă cum este în Iaşi viaţa de student
150 de elevi de la licee din toate judeţele Moldovei vor afla cum e să fii student al Facultăţii de Medicină Dentară din cadrul UMF „Gr.T. Popa” Iaşi. Aceştia vor fi beneficiarii proiectului “BeSTOMATIS – Cum ar fi să fii Medic Stomatolog?”
Cofinanţat de Ministerul Educaţiei în cadrul proiectului privind învăţământul Secundar ROSE, „“BeSTOMATIS” se va desfăşura între 2019-2021, urmând ca, în fiecare vară din cei trei ani de implementare a proiectului, 50 de elevi să beneficieze de cazare, masă, decontarea cheltuielilor de transport şi participarea gratuită la cursuri universitare. Va fi practic o perioadă de două săptămâni în care tinerii liceeni vor experimenta viaţa de student medicinist la Iaşi.
„Beneficiarii proiectului sunt potenţiali viitori studenţi, absolvenţi ai claselor a IX-a, a X-a şi a XI-a din licee din Regiunea Nord-Est. Provin cu precădere din grupuri dezavantajate, aceştia fiind tinerii cei mai expuşi riscului de abandon în primul an de studii universitare. În fiecare vară, timp de 2 săptămâni, elevii selectaţi vor fi integraţi în mediul universitar performant, în cadrul unui program de vară de tip punte. Proiectul îşi propune să îi acomodeze pe aceştia cu viaţa de student din Iaşi prin organizarea unui program de cursuri academice, ateliere de lucru specifice domeniului medical, vizite de studiu, activităţi de consiliere profesională şi orientare în carieră, combinate cu activităţi recreative şi de descoperire a obiectivelor turistice din Iaşi”, a subliniat managerul de proiect, prof.dr. Norina Forna, decanul Facultăţii de Medicină Dentară.
Lansarea proiectului a avut loc ieri în prezenţa primilor 50 de elevi selectaţi. Liceenii au primit cu această ocazie kitul de instruire „BeSTOMATIS”, ce cuprinde şi un ebook reader, cu o minibibliotecă electronică cu materiale de la cursurile la care vor participa.
Publicație : Ziarul de Iași
How to win a research grant
Even in disciplines in which research is inherently inexpensive, ‘grant capture’ is increasingly being adopted as a metric to judge academics and universities. But with success rates typically little better than one in five, rejection is the fate of most applications. Six academics give their tips on how to improve the odds
Know your funding agency and believe in yourself
Academics all know that we must publish or perish. But there is another less famous but no less important guide to scholarly survival: win funding or perish. That is particularly true for the many disciplines, like mine, in which funding is a prerequisite for being able to perform publishable research – but many recruitment, tenure and promotion committees give almost as much weight to grant income as they do to scholarly output.
Sadly, there is no sure-fire way of being successful. All higher-visibility funding agencies are overwhelmed with high-quality applications far beyond their capacity to fund. This means that there will always be an element of stochasticity in how decisions are made, so being thick-skinned and persistent are critical. Don’t take rejection personally but, rather, see it as an opportunity to improve and try again.
Even in a world of single-digit success rates, there are actions you can take to improve your chances of being awarded that research grant. Clearly, writing a good proposal is critical. Take time to let your idea develop; for a very competitive programme, it can take me six months or more to write a proposal that I am proud of.
Visual presentation is also more important than you might imagine. However strong your scientific idea, sloppy presentation will give the impression that you are not a serious researcher and, at minimum, make reviewers more negatively inclined towards you. Put in the extra effort to make your proposal look good. Figures should be high resolution and attractively presented, and text should be checked and rechecked for typographical and grammatical errors.
You should also put in the extra effort to know your funding agency. I was frustrated year after year by my inability to get a specific grant, only to discover this year from a detail-orientated student that, according to the fine print, the agency doesn’t fund my area of research. Looking at the titles and, if available, the abstracts of previously funded research can be extremely helpful, as can asking colleagues for their own successful proposals to an agency you are interested in.
Of course, there are as many ways of presenting research as there are researchers – don’t clone anyone else’s style. But try to use it as a basis for learning what works.
In addition to this, I tend to ask numerous colleagues to read my proposal as critically as possible. It gives me invaluable insight into what is likely to irk the reviewer – to whom, I remind myself, I can’t answer back. Several rounds of review later, my proposal is so much stronger.
With some funding agencies, perversely, you often need to have already done most of the work for it to be funded. With others, large volumes of preliminary data can be fatal to the proposal, conveying the impression that it is not novel and innovative enough. Once again, talking to successful colleagues helps you get to know which of these approaches is preferred by the particular funding agency you are targeting. In my case, success has sometimes resulted from merely highlighting, based on other work, why I am qualified to move to a completely new area of research.
Finally, believe in yourself. Like recruitment and promotion panels, grant review panels are biased – explicitly or implicitly – towards candidates who have had significant success in attracting prior funding. So success is always likely to be elusive in the beginning, when you have no funding track record. But my PhD supervisor often reminded me that the only sure-fire way not to get a job or grant is to not apply for it.
Hence, in my first year as an independent investigator, I put in a large volume of grant proposals. All were unsuccessful, bar one: my application for a European Research Council starting grant. I had only applied to see what would happen, but winning such generous and prestigious funding turned out to be transformative at such an early stage in my independent career.
So don’t be afraid to make yourself part of the competition. But if you do so, make sure that you put in the best proposal you are able to – because, in a low-success environment, anything less is likely to be a waste of your very precious and limited time.
Lynn Kamerlin is professor of structural biology at Uppsala University.
Surf the tensions between your audiences
I work in a field (education) and a country (Australia) where the preference is for large-scale empirical, science-like and psychologically oriented research. But, like many doctoral graduates in my area, I have always done qualitative and relatively small-number studies – in my case, with a feminist and critical sociological bent. As a reviewer and as an applicant I have found that very different types of research can be successful in grant applications – provided that they give enough attention to why this research matters.
In writing applications, one of the trickiest issues is to surf the tensions involved in satisfying two types of assessors. You have to demonstrate the specialist sophistication that satisfies a reviewer in your own field and, at the same time, make a compelling, easy-to-read case for why your research should also matter to someone outside your direct field – or even hostile to it. You have to show that your proposal builds on and expands the work you have done before, but also that it is going somewhere new.
This is particularly important in Australia, where the education minister can and hasrefused to sign off on successful applications he doesn’t like, and where there is a push for research to be directly of value to the short-term “national interest”. My advice to applicants motivated by sociological, feminist or sceptical kinds of questions is not to give up on them but to put a lot of effort into the “why it matters”. Seek feedback on drafts of your application from different kinds of researchers.
For me, the big challenge was always to come up with the new idea: something that mattered, that would speak to current research but that would offer a new take. This could take me over a year of concentrated attention. An early success was for a qualitative longitudinal project as a new way of getting at school inequalities and identity formation before longitudinal projects became popular. Another was to research changes in curriculum by thinking historically and comparatively, when most research focused within one state, or only on the present policies.
The next problem is to work out how to design a project that is both doable and capable of actually getting at the issues. It may seem a safer bet to do the research before you apply, or to plan ever-bigger ways of counting things – but you should not underestimate the appetite of jaded reviewers for proposals that offer a genuinely new approach.
Assessors are looking for projects that will achieve something (this may be a critical breakthrough or conceptual advance). But they are also looking for approaches that offer a new way into big issues, not just ones doing more of the same. In my experience as a reviewer, too many applicants either overclaim or underclaim the “why it matters” story, or seem to only be offering a repeat of their past five projects. Avoid words like explore, which can be interpreted as an indication that you may not be focused enough to get at anything.
My reviewing experience also underlines the sad truth that it is easier to be thrown out than to be kept in. Technical breaches of the instructions are always punished, so read the instructions carefully.
And success depends a lot on track record: to those who have shall be given. So if you are not competitive to begin with, you need to either combine with a larger team that has a better record, or work your way up through alternative sources of funding.
On the technical side, I am always surprised at how often I read a 10-page project description and still don’t have a concrete sense of what the authors are actually proposing to do. The front-page short pitch matters a lot. Your 40-page application may have taken six months to craft, but if it can’t be read and appreciated in three minutes, forget it!
Lyn Yates is Redmond Barry distinguished professor emerita at the University of Melbourne.
Excite the reviewer – and quickly
In an era in which the average success rates for most grant programmes rarely exceed 20 per cent, the aim must be to lift your own personal strike rate well above that dispiriting figure.
To do that, it is crucial to know the system. A grant will typically be reviewed by three or four “experts” in the field. Their reports – possibly along with the applicants’ rebuttal – will then go before a panel, at which two members are typically tasked with leading the discussion. Unlike the reviewers, these so-called “introducing members” (IMs) will rarely have expertise in the exact area of the bid. They are chosen for their potential ability to take a high-level view and rank the 20 or more bids they might be assigned in each funding round. Usually, only the panel chair will have read all of the bids, although others chip in if they have read a particular bid that took their fancy.
Typically, when two separate panels are asked to rank a set of grants, they will agree about the top 10 per cent and bottom 5 per cent. Beyond that, the choice of who gets funded is, by definition, a stochastic process; very few applications nowadays are complete turkeys. The aim is to be in that top 10 per cent.
As a reviewer, my least important desideratum (because officials will often help decide) is whether the project is worth the kind of money the applicants ask for. Far more important is whether I believe the applicants can solve the question they pose with the strategy and methods proposed. But more important still is whether their question is one that I would wish to see solved. Fail on that and it is over.
So step one is to convince the reviewer of the desirability of solving the problem. If you don’t do it in the abstract, you will struggle: only a dedicated IM will save you, and, with far more good applications than can be funded, they have little incentive to do so. The widely cited advice to have your proposal read both by experts and non-experts is wise because they are surrogates for, respectively, referees and IMs, and you have to win over both.
Another good piece of advice is to start early. Typically, 80 to 90 per cent of proposals arrive within 48 hours of deadlines. But the earlier you start, the more you can incubate, get feedback, and polish, polish, polish. Use figures. A figure really is worth many words. Flow diagrams can help enormously.
Get into the mind of a reviewer. Ask yourself: “Do I find this a good and persuasive read, with a clear message of the exciting knowledge that will be uncovered? Will the IM mirror my excitement? And will they be convinced that I will be able to deliver?”
A typical project could be seen as either too trivial or too hard. Find the goldilocks level. Exciting tends to be hard. Preliminary data are especially valuable here, demonstrating that, yes, you can do these tricky experiments.
Perhaps the reviewers will still be unconvinced. This is where the rebuttal comes in. Be careful, though. It is sometimes hard not to state that referee X is a gibbering idiot who has all the intellectual abilities of a dehydrated asparagus shoot. But getting bad or even biased referees is inevitable and IMs are perfectly capable of spotting this. Keep them on your side by playing it straight.
You may still fail even then. But, pace Kipling, if you can lose, and start again at your beginnings, you will, in time, become a grantholder. And maybe many times.
Douglas B. Kell is research chair in systems biology at the University of Liverpooland a former chief executive of the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.
Clarify your logic and enlarge your figures
There is no doubt that writing grant applications has become a lot more challenging than when I was an early career researcher. At least in the UK, it’s no longer just a case of having a smart idea, thinking it through and writing it up with clarity. There are many different aspects to consider, from impact to outreach. As a referee, the complexity of response required is just as demanding.
The pressure for the applicant is only piled on further by the increasing tendency for universities to use grant income as a crude metric for “excellence”. I can’t help but feel glad that retirement is just around the corner and I am spared this level of probably rather unproductive stress. When I applied for – and failed to get – my first grant, a former head of department told me he couldn’t see why I needed a grant anyhow. He’d never had one. I can’t recall whether he actually said string and sealing wax was all I required for my experiments, but that was the gist of it.
Having read many grants as a reviewer and panel member doesn’t help much: it’s easy to see what’s wrong, but much harder to see what’s right. Still, for what they are worth, here are my top five tips.
- Get someone else to read your application through before submission. You may think everything is crystal clear, yet assumptions may have crept in which are completely obscure to the reader. Logic may also not be totally solid: underlying hypotheses, for instance, may lurk without ever being spelled out. Such gaps will be obvious to someone who hasn’t spent months constructing the text.
- Resist telling the story of how you reached your hypothesis. Research is rarely linear and if you follow your personal historical path to set the scene it may come across as very odd to someone reading the application with fresh eyes.
- Take care that your references are up to date and comprehensive. There is nothing that puts a reviewer off more than suspecting you don’t really know the field well. An absence of references from within the past five years or a complete swathe of material missing does not confer confidence.
- Make sure any figures you include are not so small as to be impossible to read for the over-fifties without a magnifying glass. Make it easy for them to appreciate the points you are trying to make.
- Don’t be over-ambitious, promising everything. The panel will be doubtful if the proposal looks impossible to do with the resources requested.
Dame Athene Donald is professor of experimental physics and master of Churchill College, Cambridge.
Be brave enough to change direction
My best piece of practical advice is to apply annually for every grant available. That is especially important early in your career, when you need time off and you’re under pressure to get published.
Applying for grants while teaching and doing research is time-consuming, but there’s an immediate payoff. The short abstract required on grant applications helps you keep your eye on that book blurb and provides you with a sales pitch to potential publishers. If your application succeeds, the payoff is even greater. Even if the award is limited, the prestige is a worthwhile addition to your CV. Some colleges provide a supplement to major fellowships, and some fellowships allow you to postpone acceptance until you get leave time.
Ambition and confidence in your proposal are essential, even if they are somewhat unwarranted. Take my successful application for a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant in 1981, for a book on Elizabethan chivalry and the crisis of the aristocracy. I confidently proposed reviewing numerous historical documents, but didn’t really understand what archival research required. Only after seeing documents in the College of Arms (the London-based heraldic authority) did I realise that I didn’t know how to read secretary hand. So I photocopied reference works on early modern palaeography and learned to do so. This new skill enabled me to make some historical discoveries, publish an article and secure a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies to complete my second book in 1989.
My first book, published a decade earlier, had been a revision of my doctoral dissertation on Sir Philip Sidney. It was influenced by New Historicism before Stephen Greenblatt, one of my advisers, coined that term. And being slightly ahead of scholarly trends also worked well with my next two grants. I got a Guggenheim fellowship in 1992-3 for a project that focused on the succession crisis of 1603. The turn to religion was beginning as a corrective to New Historicism’s fixation on politics, and I made a similar shift.
I enrolled in an NEH Institute on Religion and Society in Early Modern England, and the increased knowledge it afforded me of reformation controversies, plus a more ambitious proposal, then secured a year-long Folger fellowship in 1996-7, resulting in my third book in 2002.
I got my last NEH grant in 2006-7, for a book on Shakespeare’s religion. But again, I changed directions midway through the project. I remained fascinated with often lethal reformation controversies but concluded that Shakespeare was more interested in dramatic performance than theology.
Although there is a certain comfort in making a career out of ploughing a particular furrow, my experience is that it pays to be resilient enough to alter your focus beyond your original proposal and to acquire new skills.
Richard C. McCoy is distinguished professor of English at Queens College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York.
Hone your sales pitch and tally up opportunity costs
I tend to think of my lab as a small business, with me as the entrepreneur at the helm – although I am probably closer to Del Boy Trotter than to Mark Zuckerberg.
This is just one of the many tortuous analogies I use to make sense of an academic career (because, let’s face it, academia doesn’t make much sense). Grants are the sales pitch that shore up the lab’s cashflow, and while I am not advocating passing off Peckham’s tap water as spring water, even genuine spring water won’t sell unless you market it properly.
As such, your grant applications have to target the customer. What complicates matters is that there are at least two different customers, with different requirements. Your sales pitch needs to be detailed enough to convince peer reviewers that you know what you are doing, but it also needs to be exciting enough to convince the panel to select your application ahead of other, equally scientifically valid, proposals. Here the lay summary is key. Sure, it is mislabelled: no lay person is ever going to read it. But it is your chance to sell the project to the panel.
Within a small business model, you also need to consider the cost of application. Our most precious commodity is our time. The endless hours absorbed by grant writing could be spent teaching, researching, writing papers or even having a life outside work!
The decision regarding whether to bear that opportunity cost should be taken in light of consideration of the chance of success versus the return if funded. Small grants with long application forms and a low hit rate should be ignored, no matter how desperate you get. I keep a tally of grants I have applied for, recording the grant value and the time invested. This has helped me to concentrate my efforts.
The sales pitch mentality stretches to how I review grants. I want to know what I am buying. First and foremost, I want to see a hypothesis. Not buried on page seven after the justification of resources, but on page one, line one, in bold. I then want my pulse quickened with a unique selling point. Why does the work need to be done? If it is a fundamental question, why does it need answering? If it is translational, how will answering it make the world a better place?
If that isn’t clear, no amount of technical competence will save you. So get out there and get selling!
John Tregoning is senior lecturer in the department of infectious disease at Imperial College London.
Publicație : The Times
US universities must rein in fees to curb rise in Republican antagonism
University of Alaska cuts are just the latest example of what is probably the new normal in US political culture, says Ben Trachtenberg
The 41 per cent budget cut to the University of Alaska System announced recently by Republican governor Michael Dunleavy is just the latest in a series of attacks on US universities by the Grand Old Party.
Polling data show that since 2015, party supporters have formed increasingly negative opinions about higher education. In 2010, 58 per cent of Republican respondents told the Pew Research Center that colleges and universities have a positive “effect on the way things are going in the country”. That figure slipped to 54 per cent in 2015, and then plummeted to 36 per cent in 2017. In that year, 58 per cent of Republican respondents said that colleges and universities have a negative effect – while 72 per cent of Democrats believed that they have a positive one.
Accordingly, Republican officials have launched aggressive interventions in the operations of US universities. As well as funding cuts, they have also used legal recourses. In March, for instance, President Trump signed an executive order directing federal officials to “take appropriate steps…to ensure institutions that receive Federal research or education grants promote free inquiry”. In essence, this amounts to a threat to withhold funds from institutions that fail to support a particular concept of “free speech” (a concept apparently compatible with what, in a June tweet, Trump described as “a strong BAN on burning our American Flag”).
Republicans have also intervened numerous times in the governance of universities, with new laws related, among other topics, to tenure, the treatment of undocumented immigrant students, the use of state funds for disfavoured programmes and the composition of university governing boards. Indeed, Trump’s executive order came amid a barrage of state-level legislation related to campus speech, mostly based on model bills circulated by conservative advocacy organisations. Laws concerning how public universities may regulate speech have been adopted by Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia.
Kentucky adopted a law in 2018 weakening faculty tenure protections, and public universities in Wisconsin weakened their own protections in 2016 in response to legislative pressure. Bills that would weaken or even abolish tenure have been introduced recently in Iowa, Kansas and Missouri. Meanwhile, states enacting laws requiring public universities to allow guns on campus in at least some circumstances include Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Texas and Utah. In June, Texas enacted a law creating criminal penalties for university employees who mishandle reports of sexual harassment or misconduct.
The federal government has also shown hostility toward higher education. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 included a tax on large university endowments, and earlier drafts would have taxed graduate student tuition waivers while repealing the student loan interest deduction.
Given how conservative media report on US university life – with Fox News exemplifying the depiction of campuses as centres of liberal indoctrination — reversing the trend of Republican opinion will be difficult. Yet universities must commit themselves to improving their image.
I propose two fronts for this public relations campaign. The teachers who educate our children in primary and secondary school, the dentists who fix our teeth, and the doctors and nurses who staff our hospitals all trained at universities. Our research keeps planes in the air, promotes medical breakthroughs and helps farmers respond to climate change. The Presidential Engagement Fellows programme at the University of Missouri System shows how universities can highlight such impacts on broader communities by sending faculty to give talks across the state, literally meeting citizens where they live. I would go further and would include public engagement as a criterion in promotion and salary decisions.
But students can serve as institutional ambassadors at least as effectively as faculty members can. Returning home during academic breaks, they can present at high schools and civic groups, allowing community members to see how their neighbours are acquiring useful knowledge. Programmes arranging such presentations will boost institutional reputations, give students public speaking experience and help them make professional connections.
The second front is for universities to make appropriate changes in response to legitimate criticism. While some attacks on higher education are misguided, it is difficult to dismiss critics of skyrocketing tuition fees and ever-increasing student indebtedness. Academic leaders should do everything in their power to stall rising tuition costs.
Further, institutions of higher education, along with the associations that support them, should press relentlessly for political solutions to the debt crisis. The federal government has immense power to affect the student loan market, and advocates for higher education should remain vigilant for opportunities to improve the financial prospects of borrowers.
Public and political suspicion of higher education is likely the “new normal” for American academia, and administrators and trustees must learn to navigate this new political landscape, particularly at public institutions in states with conservative electorates. But if universities of all kinds and in all states work to improve the overall image of higher education, huge budget cuts will hopefully remain the exception rather than the rule.
Publicație : The Times
Call for Europe-wide ‘academic freedom defence’ to meet Orbán threat
Universities ‘on the front line’ as authoritarianism rises and other European nations may follow Hungary’s example, leaders and academics warn
European governments must protest “loudly and clearly” against abuses of academic freedom in Hungary or risk other authoritarian states constricting the independence of scholarly institutions, university leaders and researchers have warned in response to the Orbán government’s latest moves.
Earlier this month, János Áder, the president of Hungary, signed a law giving the government control over the network of research institutes that formerly belonged to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences – a move that has been widely criticised as endangering academic freedom.
Meanwhile, the Budapest-based Central European University has made further steps towards moving to a new campus in Vienna, after being driven out of Hungary by Viktor Orbán’s government. On Saturday, CEU announced that the institution and six of its degree programmes had received Austrian accreditation.
Michael Ignatieff, president of CEU, told Times Higher Education that hundreds of universities and academic institutions across the world have voiced solidarity with CEU and the Academy of Sciences “but it was all to no avail”, in part because “governments themselves have done little or nothing”.
“That’s a sobering lesson that the international academic community has stood up for itself, but these governments are ignoring what they’re being told,” he said.
“The British government, the American government, the French government, the Dutch government – all of whom have free institutions inside [their nations] – are not saying loudly and clearly enough to these authoritarian regimes: ‘If you want to stay in Europe, Europe means free institutions. If you don’t defend and support and sustain free institutions you don’t belong to the club’.
“No one is saying that clearly enough or making the costs of doing what they’ve done to the Academy of Sciences and to us…prohibitive. Until the costs are prohibitive, governments like Orbán’s will keep on doing what they’re doing.”
Professor Ignatieff added that the Orbán government is “very dependent” on the structural subsidies along with the political and diplomatic support and protection that it receives from its EU membership and it is “therefore susceptible to a firm talking to from European governments”.
However, he said that EU member states “fear that if they apply pressure to Hungary it may one day be applied to them” and so they “risk some of the values on which Europe depends”.
While the European Parliament last year voted to pursue disciplinary action against Hungary under Article 7 of the EU treaty – in response to the Hungarian government’s attacks on the media, minorities and the rule of law – the procedure has made little progress.
Professor Ignatieff added that the language of European treaties “does not contain a very strong or robust definition of academic freedom” and there is “no specific requirement that European states respect and protect the academic freedom of their scientific institutions”, allowing “authoritarian regimes pretty well free rein to do what they want”.
“I think that’s an area where Europe needs to learn a lesson from these episodes and change the law,” he said. “If respect for academic freedom had been made a condition of continued membership in the EU, we would still be in Budapest. It’s that simple.”
When asked whether the inaction by European governments may embolden other authoritarian or populist states to restrict academic freedom, Professor Ignatieff said: “I can’t say for sure. But this is what globalisation means. Everybody learns from everybody else and sometimes they learn very bad lessons…Universities are very much on the front line as authoritarian regimes consolidate their rule.”
On the changes to the Academy of Sciences, he added that “other countries – Poland, the Czech Republic – may be tempted to do the same”.
Earlier this year, János Kertész, head of the department of network and data science at CEU, wrote an open letter to Manfred Weber, the German MEP who leads the European People’s Party – the centre-right group of parties that is the European Parliament’s largest group – calling for him to put pressure on Mr Orbán to withdraw the new Academy of Sciences legislation. The letter received 1,460 signatures but “didn’t help”, he said.
György Bazsa, professor emeritus of the University of Debrecen, one of the signatories, said he hoped that the new leadership of the EU “will take steps to force rules of democracy”.
Hungary’s treatment of CEU and the Academy of Sciences “should result in stopping Hungarian participation in European committees”, he suggested. “There are definitely possibilities in the hand of the European Union. It should want to use them.”
He added that there is “a danger” that central and eastern European countries with “similar anti-democratic” tendencies will make comparable steps to constrict university autonomy.
Anne Corbett, a senior associate at LSE Consulting and an expert on higher education and the EU, said it was significant that eastern European countries managed to block the choice of Frans Timmermans, the Dutch centre-left politician who had “tried to act against Orbán”, as the new president of the European Commission.
Other than continuing Mr Timmermans’ approach of trying to mobilise article 7 of the treaty, “there’s very little that the EU can do”, said Dr Corbett, “unless it gets general support”.
Dr Corbett said that “the hope lies with universities themselves”, specifically cross-border networks of universities, which can “put pressure on national rectors’ organisations to lobby governments collectively”.
“I don’t think anything will happen unless there is a wide university front saying that this is not just an issue for Hungary, it’s really an issue for Europe,” she said.
“It’s universities themselves saying they’re not just interested in European funding but they’re interested in seeing the EU standing up for these values.”
However, academics in Hungary said EU action against the country could have unintended consequences.
Such a move “may damage the reputation of the government but it will also damage our research and that’s not what we want”, said Gergely Bohm, head of the international department at the Academy of Sciences.
Publicație : The Times
UK HE demands reform of visa system that costs sector ‘£40m a year’
Sector’s representative and mission groups unite to call for change ahead of new PM’s entrance
The UK’s sector groups have united to demand that the government “urgently reform” a student visa system that costs universities an estimated £40 million a year, calling for the abolition of credibility interviews and the 10 per cent visa refusal rate threshold.
The current system is not only inefficient but is harming the international student experience and places costly burdens on universities, according to a briefing document from Universities UK, GuildHE, the Russell Group, University Alliance, MillionPlus and the UK Council for International Student Affairs. The document, released to Times Higher Education ahead of its publication, coincides with Theresa May’s exit and the advent of a new prime minister and cabinet.
The recent government White Paper on immigration and the International Education Strategy have provided an opportunity “to rethink” how the student visa system operates in the UK, according to the coalition of sector bodies.
The new system should be cost-effective and simple to administer, and enable growth in international student numbers from a diverse range of applicants, they say.
Jo Johnson, the former universities minister, said: “The UK will lose its world-beating position in the global higher education market if it does not improve its offer to international students. The proposals put forward in this briefing highlight a number of ways in which the government could help make the UK a more attractive destination for international students.
“It is essential that well-meaning measures to prevent the exploitation of student visas do not become unnecessarily burdensome on universities or put off the brightest and the best students from studying in the UK.”
As part of the background to the briefing, UUK conducted a survey on staff time associated with Tier 4 compliance and found that overall cost of compliance to the current system for the sector was an estimated £40 million a year, which would then increase by an additional £12.3m if European Union students were included following Brexit.
Providing qualified immigration advice to students and staff, attendance monitoring and analysing and interpreting UK Visas and Immigration advice were among the most expensive tasks.
According to a 2018 survey, international students are worth about 10 times more to the UK economy than they cost the taxpayer. But the groups warned that “an inadequate visa system can put prospective students off choosing a country as their study destination” and can damage their experience while they are in the UK.
The briefing said that credibility interviews, introduced to ensure only genuine students are given Tier 4 visas, are “inadequate”, with judgements made based on arbitrary, subjective and personal questions – and therefore should be scrapped.
The document also says that attendance monitoring should “not encourage the differential treatment of international students on campus” and the requirement for police registration should be removed too.
And it calls for the government to abolish the rule that strips universities of the ability to recruit international students if more than 10 per cent of their applicants are refused visas – arguing that universities have limited involvement in visa refusals or acceptances.
This rule particularly affects smaller universities, according to the briefing, but also leads universities to be overly cautious about recruiting from certain parts of the world, because certain nationalities are seen as more likely to be rejected.
Under the present immigration system, applicants are often met with a service that is expensive – more so than the UK’s competitor countries – and fails to function smoothly, the briefing argues.
To streamline the system, the government must ease the bureaucratic process and remove the requirement to provide duplicate information, it adds.
Tim Bradshaw, chief executive of the Russell Group, said that the report shows the strength of feeling on this issue across the sector and the consensus on what reforms are needed.
Attracting more international students “will bring huge advantages to the UK economy and society, but we need a world-class student visa system that matches this ambition”, he said. “The government now has a great opportunity to tackle inefficiencies in the system, reform the student experience and create a welcoming offer that will boost the UK’s reputation internationally.”
Alistair Jarvis, Universities UK chief executive, said that the UK’s offer to international students is “being held back by long-standing and uncompetitive policy barriers. It is time to correct these.”
“In any post-Brexit immigration system, the student experience should not be significantly different for international students than for UK students and we will continue to push government to ensure that this is recognised,” he added.
Publicație : The Times