Friday, 28 October 2016

The future for engineering

Writing in the THES today five engineers set out why engineering is part of our everyday lives and what universities can do to change the way it is taught. The article claims that engineering is widely misunderstood by the public which may go some way to explaining why it remains relatively unpopular with students and in particular female students.  At a time when more engineers are needed, this failure to tap into 40 per cent of the intellectual capital is a problem. Read more from this interesting article by following the link below. You may need to register for an account to view the article. 

Tunnel opening, Crossrail tunnel, Canning Town, London

The future for engineering

Retaining women in engineering

A blog posting in the Times Higher Education today calls for more to be done to tackle attitudes and engage women in engineering after research shows that talented and interested women are leaving engineering at higher rates than men. Over 700 engineering students were followed across four universities in the US and the resulting research claims that many female engineering students had reported isolation and ‘blatant sexual harassment’ among the reasons for considering leaving the discipline. Read more by following the link below.

Female engineer measuring voltage on conductor board

Retaining women in education

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Dodgy research and cheating students!

Cheating sites devalue the work of honest students and risk making degrees worthless. So says an academic writing in the Guardian Higher Education Network this week. Dr Thomas Lancaster from Coventry University claims in his piece that if students know where to look, they can source a 2,000-word, original, written-to-order essay directly from an individual for £20. Lancaster calls for universities to fight back against this damaging industry. Elsewhere in the Guardian academics rail against the Research Excellence Framework and claim that it completely undermines efforts to produce a reliable body of knowledge. Read more by following the links below. 

Murky business of buying essays

Dodgy research

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Archiving and Google

One of the main attractions of a database is its archive, but over the years Google appears to have let its archive slip away.

When Google began, it undertook to archive older material but over the years it has stopped this practice.  For more information on Google's policy changes you might like to read Andy Baio's post. The post also includes links to some internet archives.  

Monday, 24 October 2016

Maximising your digital profile

I can’t envisage myself stealthily roaming the digital profiles of my academic colleagues anytime soon, but there is something to be said for presenting yourself and your research in the best light possible.  Particularly in the increasingly important digital environment. David Matthews, writing in THES outlines a project that is currently running in Queensland University of Technology (QUT). It involves librarians auditing the digital profiles of researchers with a view to suggesting some improvements.

For the complete article please follow the link below.

For those of you how would like to know more about creating or improving your digital presence  read Andy Miah’s blog

A new perspective on collaborative learning...

For a look at innovative collaborative learning, it’s worth reading about the experiences of students and academics at Pratt Institute, New York and Lehigh University Bethlehem, PA.
The idea of taking students from different fields of study and bringing them together to work in a project based learning environment, isn’t that ground breaking.  However add to that, the students are coming from very different institutions, that there is no syllabus and no metric to measure success or failure and you will begin to understand the uniqueness of the situation,  and the potential for learning that can happen in such an environment. 

For further details please follow the link to the article by Simon & Schutte in THES.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Brexit, financial woes and university rankings...

If you’re looking for information on three very popular news topics in one place then Carl O’Brien’s article on Brexit, the funding of Irish universities and university rankings in the Irish Times will suit.  He looks at the impact of Brexit on the plight of some 2500 British students studying in the Republic, and that of the 11,500 Irish students currently studying in the UK.

He highlights how the current financial woes of the third level sector could see Irish colleges miss out on a potential Brexit windfall, mainly due to lack of funding, and then manages to squeeze in a reference to the continuing decent of Irish universities in world university rankings.

For the full article please click on the following link.

For further details on the report by Peter Cassells into the funding of third level colleges in Ireland please click on the link below.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Contract cheating - "a deceptive industry"

I’ve seen advertisements for complete academic essays or assignments for a “reasonable fee”.  These adverts are usually online, but I’ve no doubt that a quick look at notice boards around most third level colleges would reveal the same services, offering to help anxious students who are trying to meet looming deadlines. 

I hadn’t realised that the chance of being caught cheating is just one of the downsides to engaging with these services.  According to Dr Thomas Lancaster, writing in the Guardian, students could also face being blackmailed.

For more information on the subject of contract cheating please follow the link to Dr Lancaster’s article.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Should we have replication or novelty in our research?

In the Guardian Higher Education network this week, two academics ask "why is so much research dodgy?" They go on to blame the Research Excellence Framework because they say it encourages novelty but offers no incentive to replicate studies – thereby undermining efforts to produce a reliable body of knowledge. Potential solutions are offered in the article. Read more by following the link below.

2 + 2 = 5

Why is so much research dodgy?

Friday, 14 October 2016

Much needed investment in Irish HE

After almost a decade of cuts, Irish Higher Education is set to receive its first significant funding increase. The Minister for Education, Richard Bruton, has pledged that an additional €36 million allocated to higher education in 2017 will rise by another €17 million in 2018 and a further €17 million in the following year. This, he said, would gives colleges and universities greater certainty in planning for the coming years. Read more from The Irish Times by following the links below.

Numbers entering primary school and secondary level are set to grow by an extra 12,000 next year alone. Photograph: iStock

Increases in funding for Irish HE

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Are universities being robbed of their social role?

An article in the Guardian today warns that the social role of universities is being overlooked as the government pushes ahead with its marketisation of the sector. Bill Rammell argues that universities make an enormous contribution to civil society, not only through providing education opportunities and extending knowledge through research, but in their engagement with communities, their international networks, and the fostering of open public debate. He expresses concern that by relying too heavily on market mechanisms to drive reform, we are in danger of losing the historic public benefits of higher education. Read more by following the link below. 

iCub robot

Social role for universities

Monday, 3 October 2016

The best online study tools

Online supports are revolutionising learning and they may even be making learning more enjoyable. An article in the Irish Times today explores some of the online learning tools available by asking students for their thoughts on the best resources and how they help with learning, teaching and revising. Leaving and Junior Cert pupils are taking to Khan Academy,,, the Eir Study Hub and more to complement what they learn in class. Read more by following the link below.

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