The number of the world’s top universities that are led by women has declined in the past year, following several years of progress in closing the gender gap, according to an analysis of Times Higher Education World University Rankings data. Just 34 – or 17 per cent – of the top 200 universities in the latest 2018 ranking have a female leader. This represents a slight drop since last year when 36 (18 per cent) of the universities ranked in the top 200 of the 2017 ranking were led by a woman. Sweden is once again the country with the highest proportion of female leaders; of the six Swedish institutions that make the world top 200, four are still led by women. The US is home to the highest number of female presidents (11) in the analysis, largely owing to its high number of institutions in THE’s top 200. It accounts for almost a third (32 per cent) of female leaders at the top of the table. – Ellie Bothwell, Times Higher. Read more

The dispute in England between universities and their staff may be closer to a resolution after the University of Oxford said it would seek to reverse its stance on pensions changes that unions say would cost retirees up to £10,000 a year. The about-turn means Oxford joins an increasing number of universities that have broken ranks with the position taken by Universities UK (UUK), which claims the staff pension scheme needs dramatic reform in order to continue. Cambridge, Manchester, St Andrews and Warwick universities have distanced themselves from the UUK’s stance, and Imperial College’s leadership has made a direct appeal to the pensions regulator asking for the issue to be resolved by an independent panel of experts. – Richard Adams, The Guardian. Read more

A new study in Nature Biotechnology warns of a mental health “crisis” in graduate education. “Our results show that graduate students are more than six times as likely to experience depression and anxiety as compared to the general population,” the study says, urging action on the part of institutions. “It is only with strong and validated interventions that academia will be able to provide help for those who are traveling through the bioscience workforce pipeline.” The paper is based on a survey including clinically validated scales for anxiety and depression, deployed to students via email and social media. The survey’s 2,279 respondents were mostly Ph.D. candidates (90 per cent), representing 26 countries and 234 institutions. – Colleen Flaherty, Inside Highered. Read more

Leading Russian universities are planning to significantly strengthen their cooperation with business by increasing active sales of their scientific developments to producers and seeking investment for their further development, according to recent statements of representatives of some of Russia’s leading universities. A spokesperson for the Association of the Classical Universities of Russia, a public association which unites 24 of Russia’s leading universities, said: “To date, domestic universities have paid insufficient attention to commercialisation of their developments; however there is a possibility such a situation will change. In recent years, the scientific potential of Russian universities has been significantly increased, which has created conditions for its commercial use.”  The level of commercialisation of scientific developments has been significantly lower than the levels at some leading Western universities in this field. – Eugene Vorotnikov, University World News. Read more

The majority of international students in Singapore who applied to obtain permanent residency were successful, according to the second minister of home affairs, Josephine Teo. The statistic, cited during a parliamentary sitting, revealed that over the past 10 years more than 80 per cent of applicants obtained residency. “From 2008 to 2017, 7,251 foreign students applied for ‘PR’ on their own merits,” Teo told parliament. “Close to 82 per cent, or 5,932, have been granted ‘PR’,” she continued, adding that of those, “1,072 or 18 per cent … subsequently [took] up citizenship as at the end of 2017.” Teo was unable to elaborate on the country of origin breakdown of those who received residency but said she believed it was in line with the general student population within Singapore, primarily driven by students from Asia. – Anton Crace, The PIE News. Read more


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