Renovări în campusul studenţesc Tudor Vladimirescu, după jumătate de secol

 Se lucrează intens la cele mai vechi cămine din campusul studenţesc Tudor Vladimirescu. După 50 de ani de la darea lor în funcţiune, căminele T1, T2, T3, T4 şi T5 sunt reparate şi renovate.

Odată cu reparaţiile acestor cămine se va aduce şi mobilier nou. Atfel, studenţii nu vor mai dormi în paturile în care au stat şi părinţii sau poate bunicii lor.„Vorbim despre 2.000 de studenţi care de la 1 octombrie, odată cu începerea anului universitar, vor locui în mai bune condiţii. Erau mulţi părinţi care veneau cu studenţii din anul I care le spuneau: uite, acesta era vestiarul meu, aceasta era uşa de la cameră, iar acesta era patul în care am dormit pe perioada facultăţii. Am reuşit să deblocăm această situaţie şi săschimbăm mobilierul. Vor fi 2.300 de birouri noi, 2.300 de scaune, 1.200 de dulapuri, 2.400 etajere pentru depozitarea lucrurilor în camera de cămin. Se vor schimba peste 11.000 de metri pătraţi de pardoseală, 500 paturi. Toate aceste camere vor avea şi o cromatică specială. Am ales culori deschise pentru că spaţiile din camere sunt destul de mici”, ne-a declarat Bogdan Budeanu, directorul Direcţiei Servicii Studenţeşti.

Investiţiile celor de la universitatea tehnică în crearea de mai bune condiţii de cazare pentru studenţi nu se vor opri aici. Peste 400 de uşi vor fi schimbate în următorul an.

Cheile nu vor putea fi multiplicate de studenţi. Cheia va fi predată din generaţie în generaţie. Dorim să oferim studenţilor siguranţă şi securitate crescută. În caz de forţă majoră va fi şi o cheie admin care va deschide orice uşă din cămin”, a declarat Bogdan Budeanu, directorul Direcţiei Servicii Studenţeşti.

Toate investiţiile făcute în aceste cinci cămine din campusul Tudor Vladimirescu sunt în valoare de aproximativ 1 milion de euro


Publicație : Evenimentul 


Labour’s support among UK students nearly halves in 18 months amid Brexit frustration, survey suggests

Jeremy Corbyn’s policy over EU makes young people change sides to pro-Remain parties

Labour’s support among UK students has nearly halved in 18 months amid frustration at the party’s position on Brexit, survey suggests.

The backing for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party among young supporters has fallen by 32 percentage points since February 2018, according to the findings from Times Higher Education.

And the Labour party’s Brexit policy could be causing student voters to turn towards pro-Remain parties like the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party, the survey suggests.

The YouthSight survey, of nearly 1,000 students, reveals that support for Labour has plummeted from 70 per cent, of those who said that they were likely to vote, in February 2018 to 38 per cent.

Meanwhile, student backing for the pro-EU Liberal Democrats and Green Party has grown – with these parties now representing 19 per cent and 18 per cent of the student vote, the survey shows.

Asked how students would vote if a second referendum were held tomorrow, more than three in four (76 per cent) of respondents said that they would vote Remain.

Mr Corbyn has been criticised for taking an ambiguous position over Brexit as he has repeatedly refused to endorse backing Remain in all circumstances.

Last month, the Labour leader finally called on the leader of the Conservative Party to put their deal to the people in a referendum.

Rania Ramli, national chair of Labour Students, told The Independent: “Brexit has definitely been a big cause of the fall in Labour support among student.

„We will be significantly impacted and many students have therefore become unwilling to support the Labour Party’s ambiguity around the issue.

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“It’s disappointing that it took so long for the Labour leadership to finally come out in support of a People’s Vote and Remain but it’s positive that they finally have.”

The survey reveals that students gave a favourability rating that was only just positive to Mr Corbyn – however this dropped from a high point of 41 per cent positive 18 months ago.

New Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson, although rated slightly below zero, had a higher score than any of her predecessors. Meanwhile, prime minister Boris Johnson received a rating among students of minus 54 per cent, which is lower than Theresa May.

Richard Brooks, one of the co-founders of anti-Brexit youth group For our Future’s Sake (FFS), said the Labour party’s stance on Brexit and inaction over antisemitism were to blame for the fall.

He said: “The continued confusion and fence-sitting on Brexit until recently has upset an incredibly pro-People’s Vote and Remain young population. Even though Labour are now in a far better place, senior MPs in party continue to muddy the water without consequence.

“It’s also clear that the party’s inability to properly tackle antisemitism has hurt it with young people, and it pains me as a party member to see our inaction in this area.”

Mr Brooks said: “The Lib Dems and Greens have been crystal about their positions on the two great issues of the age – Brexit, in the form of supporting a People’s Vote, and tackling the climate crisis.”

Tom Hazell, co-chair of the Young Greens, said: “All across the country, students and young people are rising up – from the climate strikes to opposition to Brexit. It’s the Green Party that has been showing clear leadership on the issues young people care about, while others are failing.”

“The Greens remain the only party truly standing up for our generation – for those who want to stop the climate crisis, remain in the EU and reverse austerity,” he told The Independent.

Dan Schmeising, co-chair of the Young Liberals, said: „Labour has let young people down by voting for a Tory Brexit time and time again, enabling the mess our country is in.

„We’re committed to stopping Brexit. But we’re also fighting to tackle the climate emergency, standing up for LGBT+ rights and civil liberties, and proposing new ways to fix intergenerational inequality.

„Young people can see that, and they’re joining us as the real progressive alternative.”

A Labour spokesperson said: “In 2017 we won the biggest increase in Labour’s vote share since 1945 and took away the Tories’ majority. Whenever the next general election comes Labour will offer a real choice between a Conservative government run in the interests of the rich and the corporate elite, and a Labour government that abolishes tuition fees, invests in public services and tackles the climate emergency.

“Labour is committed to a public vote, including an option to remain, and we are leading the campaign to stop Boris Johnson’s devastating No Deal.”

Publicație : The Independent 

Teaching students in English is damaging their education

A bold policy to internationalise Turkey’s universities by teaching in English should be abandoned, says Sinan Bayraktaroğlu

Teaching undergraduates in English was supposed to herald a glorious new era for Turkish universities by opening their doors to the brightest minds from around the world.

Visiting international scholars would raise the bar for students and domestic academics alike, with the latter encouraged to publish in prestigious English-language journals, thereby pushing universities higher in the rankings. Meanwhile, an influx of overseas students would enrich the classroom experience and provide a useful revenue stream to help universities take their place on the international stage.

But the introduction of English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI), an official policy supported by the Turkish government, has also, rightly, generated much criticism.

For many Turkish scholars, educators, and intellectuals, this policy represents a grave threat to Turkey’s language and culture, with some 110 of Turkey’s 187 universities now teaching in English in some or all of their departments, according to a University of Oxford study in 2016.

More persuasively, many also argue it obstructs the progress of cognitive and learning skills among students asked to operate in a second language. Unable to express their views in English, many students struggle to analyse and interpret study texts, leading them to stay quiet in class and avoid intellectual discussions. As they become passive in classrooms, it is understandable that they resort to rote learning for examinations. Others admit to using a mixture of Turkish and English to communicate in class, leading to an unintelligible bilingual discourse that is neither one language nor the other.

Of course, this issue is exacerbated by poor English language skills; according to last year’s English Proficiency Index, Turkey came 73rd out of the 89 countries rated and finished far lower than any European state.

In short, it is quite clear from the data collected from examination papers that teaching in the medium of English does not facilitate or improve the students’ learning and understanding of their academic subjects; on the contrary, it deprives them of knowledge and skills that they would have received in their own native Turkish.

This problem is worsened by the fallacy among policymakers, rectors, and university administrators that “teaching in English” and “teaching English” are largely interchangeable. In fact, they are entirely different educational processes which require different pedagogical approaches. Teaching undergraduates in English requires a high level of proficiency that cannot be acquired by simply sitting in lessons.

Focusing on this issue alone perhaps ignores a deeper malaise in Turkey’s education system. Teaching in Turkish also requires radical improvement at every age level; according to PISA tests, a 15-year-old Turkish school student’s performance in reading comprehension and problem-solving skills are well below the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development average, ranking 32nd among 34 OECD countries, and below basic competence levels in these areas.

Considering the failure of these pupils to master Turkish, it would be quite unrealistic to expect proficiency in English, let alone the successful completion of a degree taken in English.

This failure to teach basic Turkish to primary and secondary school pupils means, however, that efforts to teach a foreign language to university-entry standard will also founder. Effective native language teaching is the most powerful means to enable foreign language learning: it provides language awareness, knowledge, skills and the capacity to study autonomously. It is the master key to foreign language learning, the tool which equips students with the most complete means of accessing the English language. Put simply, achieving a high level in your native language is essential if you want to learn another language.

Turkey cannot ignore this problem any longer. Its policymakers have dodged the issue, failing to provide either written guidelines about how to teach in English nor an inspection scheme to ensure quality. Bolder measures are perhaps required.

There is a serious language problem today in Turkey’s educational system due to policy blind spots that pervade all levels of education. It is having a devastating impact on a country whose young population is one of its most valuable assets.

To enforce teaching in English within universities is sadly to inflict more damage on the minds, thoughts and creativity of future generations.

Publicație : The Times 

US universities ‘should have blocked’ Jeffrey Epstein donations

Institutions largely silent over how they allowed their researchers to take financier’s funding, despite his interest in eugenics and 2008 sex conviction

Several US universities are facing questions over why they failed to stop their academics taking research funding from Jeffrey Epstein even after the financier was convicted of soliciting prostitution from an underage girl.

Since his death in prison on 10 August, while awaiting trial for alleged sex trafficking of minors, attention has focused on Mr Epstein’s relationships with and funding of prominent scientists.

Critics argue that the scandal points to the ineffectiveness of universities’ control over their academics’ fundraising efforts, and raises wider concerns over how they handle ultra-wealthy people who seek to shape the scientific agenda.

“There’s absolutely no circumstances where an individual academic or a lab group would be able to do any of this without the university’s blessing and ethical approval,” said Christopher Davidson, an expert on Gulf monarchies at the European Centre for International Affairs, who has commented extensively on the ethics of university donations.

“In my experience it doesn’t and shouldn’t make any difference” whether a philanthropist gives to an institution, or a particular academic or lab, said Dr Davidson. “Almost all UK and US universities don’t make that distinction. Funding is funding,” he added.

Two researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have admitted that they met and took money from Mr Epstein after his conviction in 2008, one even visiting him during his prison term in Florida. The donations have triggered two resignations in protest at MIT’s Media Lab.

In response, MIT president Rafael Reif acknowledged in a public letter that “decisions about gifts are always subject to longstanding institute processes and principles. To my great regret, despite following the processes that have served MIT well for many years, in this instance we made a mistake of judgement.” MIT did not respond when asked by Times Higher Education whether this meant that it had internally approved Mr Epstein’s post-conviction gifts.

Attention has also focused on physicist Lawrence Krauss, who according to a Buzzfeed investigation, received at least $250,000 (£205,000) from Mr Epstein to fund the Origins Project at Arizona State University. The project brought together scientists and celebrities, with the last payment reportedly in 2017. In 2011, the university’s press office publicised a debate involving Professor Krauss and other prominent scientists, held “in partnership” with the “J. Epstein Foundation”.

Arizona State did not respond to a THE query about its vetting of the donation, nor did Professor Krauss, who retired from the university last year following sexual misconduct allegations.

“Many universities do have ethics boards in place,” said Nathan Oseroff, a philosophy of science postgraduate at King’s College London who investigated Mr Epstein’s relationships with academia. “Either they didn’t follow the appropriate policies in places, or they didn’t extend that far to cover the donor [Epstein].”

“The main takeaway is that even if robust ethics frameworks are in place, they can be bent around…if the price is right,” added Dr Davidson.

Other aspects of Mr Epstein’s agenda raise questions over the appropriateness of donations accepted even before his conviction in 2008. The New York Times has reported how Mr Epstein maintained an interest in eugenics, and from the early 2000s boasted of plans to inseminate dozens of women on his New Mexico ranch.

“A donor also interested in eugenics should raise all sorts of flags – whether or not they connect this interest to what they fund. This should have ruled him out as a donor,” said Jonathan Eisen, an evolutionary biologist at University of California, Davis, and critic of institutions that took money from Mr Epstein.

One way to counteract the intellectual influence of wealthy donors such as Mr Epstein over the research agenda was to anonymise where money has come from, argued Mr Oseroff, so that researchers were not unconsciously influenced by the donor’s expectations. “People can read into these donations what is expected of them,” he said.

But this comes with its own problems. In 2017, Mr Epstein made a $50,000 anonymised donation to the University of Arizona’s Center for Consciousness Studies, the Daily Beast revealed in April. Arizona did not reply to a THE request for comment.

Anonymisation might shield researchers from donor influence, but it means that the wealthy are potentially able to buy secret, unaccountable leverage over universities, said Mr Oseroff.

Ultimately, the scandal around Mr Epstein’s funding of research is just one part of the “bigger issue” of declining public funding, he said, which forced academia to rely on companies and rich individuals with their own agendas.

Still, scientists courted by Mr Epstein were largely secure in their careers, while some of his beneficiaries were among the richest institutions in the world, including Harvard University, which has “no plans” to return Mr Epstein’s 2003 $6.5 million donation to fund research into evolutionary dynamics, USA Today reported in July. Harvard did not reply to THE questions about donations from Mr Epstein.

Publicație : The Times 

Research-shy institutions ‘could lose university status’

Australian reviewer suggests quality and scale of scholarly output should be key factor in deciding classification

Universities could lose their title if they fail to produce research of sufficient volume or quality, under likely proposals from an Australian review panel.

Former Queensland University of Technology vice-chancellor Peter Coaldrake said quality and scale of research should be included in the “provider category standards” that define the requirements of university status.

For example, universities might be required to demonstrate that their research is at or above world standard in at least three broad fields of education. This would necessitate scores of 3, 4 or 5 in Australia’s research assessment exercise, Excellence in Research for Australia.

Professor Coaldrake, who is leading a review of the standards, outlined his intended recommendations at a Brisbane conference. “I’m not trying to run a sinister agenda,” he said. “We are trying to…encourage improvement and growth in research performance.”

The standards oblige universities to provide postgraduate research degrees in at least three broad fields, without specifying the quantity or quality of research required in each field. Professor Coaldrake has pointed out that a university could satisfy these standards by offering just one postgraduate course and producing a single uncited research paper in each of the three broad fields.

He said that while most universities would easily meet the sorts of requirements he had in mind, his panel wanted to “build aspiration on the upside rather than the downside”.

The Melbourne-based University of Divinity, which has achieved scores of 3 in each of ERA’s four rounds, said universities already felt pressure to perform on research quality. “If we got a two on ERA, I’m sure TEQSA [the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency, the higher education regulator] would be giving me a phone call and saying ‘what are you doing about it?’,” said vice-chancellor Peter Sherlock.

Professor Sherlock said a quantifiable standard around universities’ research obligations would provide welcome clarity, but would also raise a “really interesting legislative question”. He said Divinity’s university title was recorded in federal and state legislation as well as TEQSA’s national register. “Who actually is making the decision here?”

His institution is also potentially threatened by another likely recommendation of the review, which wants three current Australian university categories dissolved into one. This would entail the removal of the “university of specialisation” classification, of which Divinity is the only member.

It does not meet the current requirements for full university status, because it operates in only one broad field of education. Professor Sherlock said he was “reasonably confident” that the rules would be changed to accommodate his institution.

Avondale College, a 120-year-old institution operated by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, faces a similar dilemma. It recently secured approval to become the first Australian university college – a category Professor Coaldrake also wants removed.

Avondale president Ray Roennfeldt said he understood Professor Coaldrake would push for institutions in either category to be granted full university status. “But that recommendation would have to be accepted by the Higher Education Standards Panel and the minister,” he said.

Representative body Independent Higher Education Australia said the university college classification should be retained as a desirable “destination” category. “It’s valuable for global recognition and to meet policy issues of government from time to time,” said chief executive Simon Finn.

Publicație : The Times 

California’s Elsevier break strengthens other campuses’ hands

Universities report winning more conciliatory terms on open access question in their own negotiations with publisher

The University of California’s decision to cut ties with Elsevier has led the publisher to soften its demands with other US campuses, according to an open access advocate.

The 10-campus California system refused to sign a new contract with Elsevier in January after the company failed to move far enough on librarians’ insistence that more content should be made available in free-to-read formats and that overall costs should be reduced.

With no sign of a rapprochement, Elsevier cut the system’s access to its library of 2,500 journals in July, prompting dozens of California academics to quit editorial positions on some of the firm’s leading periodicals.

Such sacrifice may be helping other universities, as several institutions now appear to be winning more conciliatory terms in their own talks with Elsevier.

“That’s actually what they’re telling us,” Jeff MacKie-Mason, the university librarian at University of California, Berkeley and the co-lead negotiator for the system’s talks with Elsevier, told Times Higher Education. “We’ve been told by several other consortia that our backing away and ending negotiations actually helped move theirs ahead more rapidly and more productively.”

California’s assertive stance has thrust the university into a leadership role nationally. It hosted allies from more than a dozen universities at a two-day event in Washington in a bid to initiate a step change towards open access publishing last week.

The event heard that Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University was on the verge of agreeing a new contract with Elsevier, although this was described by both academics and publishers as being unique to the institution’s size and needs, and therefore was unlikely to provide a model for other institutions.

In fact, the event highlighted the complicated challenges of an open access future as much as it clarified any paths forward.

Despite California’s insistence on a price reduction, the dean of university libraries at Carnegie Mellon, Keith Webster, told his academic colleagues to recognise that open access wasn’t necessarily cheaper for them.

And, Mr Webster warned, attempts to push the costs of producing journals on to the authors – a typical open-access strategy – could leave some researchers unable to share their work with the rest of the world.

Creating open access journals cannot come at “the expense of excluding those who have something to say”, Mr Webster said. “Whatever this new equilibrium is, it has to give a voice to everyone who wants to be part of the system.”

Experts at the event described the growing array of open access formats as so difficult to forecast that all sides are eager to watch limited scale examples develop for a while.

“We are at a unique moment with scholarly communication – we are creating the transition and the change that’s going to define what scholarly communication looks like going forward,” said Curtis Brundy, an associate university librarian at Iowa State University. And yet, he said, “I feel like we’re driving blind on some of these negotiations that we’re doing, because we do not have the capacity to analyse the publishing data in a way to run the models and to really inform ourselves about the decisions that we need to make and what impact that’s going to have on us.”

One non-profit publisher, Annual Reviews, is trying a “subscribe-to-open” model in which its papers are offered free once it gets enough subscription revenue to cover its costs. But, said Kamran Naim, director of partnerships and initiatives at Annual Reviews, that pretty obviously creates a “free-rider problem” that requires constant monitoring.

Publicație : The Times