October News Headlines

03 October 2013
Welcome to the October e-bulletin with the latest news and items of interest to staff and students across the Universitas 21 network.


U21 3MT People’s Choice Vote to Open 11 October

First developed by the University of Queensland in 2008, the Three Minute Thesis competition (3MT®) challenges research students to communicate the significance of their projects to a non-specialist audience in just three minutes. Building on the success of the Trans-Tasman competition, a U21 competition has been launched for 2013. Each participating member has already held their own internal 3MT competition to select a local winner who will shortly be put forward for the U21 Grand Final, taking place during October.

The Grand Final is a virtual event where video entries rather than live presentations will be judged. Two prizes will be available for participants in this event:

  • Judge's Choice: Prizewinner will receive a bursary of US$2,500 to visit a U21 university of their choice, to benefit their research or on-going career development.
  • People's Choice: Prizewinner will receive US$300.

The People's Choice vote is open from 11-25 October 2013 and is available to absolutely everyone, whether a member of U21 or not.

You can vote by visiting the following web page and clicking 'Like' on your favourite video entry:


 The overall winners will be announced on Tuesday 29 October.

 If you have any queries, please contact Dr Gemma Marakas (g.marakas@bham.ac.uk).

U21 Ranking Symposium Registration Reminder

The National Systems of Higher Education Symposium will take place from 6-7 November 2013 at the Regal International East Asia Hotel in Shanghai, China.

This event is being organised by the authors of the annual Ranking of National Higher Education Systems in conjunction with Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The rankings have been published by Universitas 21 since 2012. Both the 2012 and 2013 Reports can be viewed via the link below:


The Symposium will comprise addresses by invited speakers with ample time for discussion from the floor, and will conclude with a panel discussion. The Symposium is open to both members and non-members of U21. To find out more about this event, including the speakers and to register your participation, please visit the Symposium event page:


If you have any queries regarding this event, please contact Professor Ross Williams (rossaw@unimelb.edu.au).

First Two Students Complete U21 Joint PhD Programme

We are pleased to announce that the first two U21 Joint PhDs research degree thesis examinations have been completed and the two successful students will graduate in December 2013.

Megan Schlotjes studied at the universities of Auckland and Birmingham and completed her PhD in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering on the risks associated with pavement failure in New Zealand.

Kamran Kahn studied at the universities of Birmingham and Melbourne and completed his PhD in the School of Education and Investigated pathways to citizenship in adult English for Speakers of other Languages.

A full report on both PhDs will be available in 2014.


New U21 Manager for Hong Kong

Current U21 Manager at the University of Hong Kong, Mable Chiu, will be stepping down from her role following the upcoming Managers’ meeting in Amsterdam. We would like to thank Mable for her dedication to the network during her time as a U21 Manager. Mable will be replaced as U21 Manager by Dr Steve Cannon, Executive Vice-President (Administration and Finance), who will take on the role from the end of October 2013. We would like to congratulate Dr Cannon on his new post on behalf of the U21 network.


Birmingham voted The Times & Sunday Times University of The Year

The University of Birmingham has been named University of the Year 2013-14 in the latest Good University Guide from The Times and The Sunday Times.

The University has risen eight places overall in this year’s Good University Guide league table of UK universities compared to last year, coming 16th. Birmingham is also in the top 10 for graduate prospects, with 80.8% of students going on to professional work or graduate study, and in the top 10 for its facilities spend, £2,219 per student. It finished just outside of the top 10 in the country for the percentage of students gaining a first or 2:1 (78.8%) and completing their degree programmes (95.1%).

Judges praised the university for its innovative approach to student recruitment this year when it made over 1,000 unconditional offers to applicants who were predicted to get at least AAA at A-level. It helped the university recruit some of the brightest school-leavers in Britain, while taking the pressure off the sixth-formers when they sat their summer examinations in June.

University of Birmingham Vice-Chancellor Professor David Eastwood said: ‘Winning The Times and The Sunday Times University of the Year represents a huge team effort. The quality and innovation seen across Birmingham’s bold and sector-leading initiatives has been noted and applauded by this national accolade.’

We would like to pass on our congratulations to Birmingham on behalf of all at U21 on this wonderful achievement.

Clean sweep for U21 in World University Rankings

QS World University Rankings 2013-2014

The QS World University Rankings for 2013-2014 were announced on 10 September. The ranking names 800 of the world’s top universities overall and all 27 members of U21 were featured, ranked at 650 or higher. 15 members were ranked in the top 100, with Edinburgh, Hong Kong, McGill, Melbourne, Queensland, Singapore and UBC all making it into the top 50.

U21 Members also scored highly in the sub-category of Asia, with Fudan, Shanghai and Waseda all making it into the top 50 and Hong Kong and Singapore scoring joint second.

In the sub-category of Latin America, Chile and TEC were both ranked in the top 10.

Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2013-2014

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings were released on 2 October. The rankings judge world-class universities across all of their core missions - teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. 22 U21 members made it into this top 400 with 9 universities clearing the top 100 and UBC, Edinburgh, Hong Kong, McGill, Melbourne and OSU and Singapore making it into the top 50.

All our Asian members appeared in the top 100 Asia University Rankings with Fudan, Korea and Shanghai making it into the top 50 and Singapore being ranked second.

We would like to congratulate all members on their wonderful achievement in both sets of rankings.

U21 Student Exchange Scholarships

U21 members Birmingham, Dublin, Edinburgh, Maryland and Virginia all promote exchange programmes for home students by offering scholarships for those wishing to study at a fellow U21 member institution.

Maryland students who participate in an exchange will now get a minimum of a US$1,000 scholarship during the 2013 September - December semester.

Birmingham offers scholarships for Birmingham students who go on exchange to any U21 member or to U21 summer schools. They also offer scholarships for students from North American U21 members who come to Birmingham on exchange. Details of their 2014 programme will be available on the U21 website in due course.

UCD is offering scholarships of EUR 1,000 for home students on exchange to fellow members in Asia and Latin America during the academic year 2013-2014.

Edinburgh and Virginia have collaborated to form The Study America Programme in 2013, offering 10 Edinburgh students an all-expenses paid two-week trip to the University of Virginia. Edinburgh will also be hosting exchange students from Virginia in 2014.

Could your institution offer a similar scholarship opportunity or does it already? If so we’d love to hear about it. Send any details to Lucy Smith (l.smith.1@bham.ac.uk) for promotion on the U21 website.

Connecticut Named Most Sustainable School in USA

The University of Connecticut has been named Sierra magazine’s ‘Coolest School’ in the USA for its efforts to encourage sustainability, green technology, and environmental stewardship. Connecticut offers almost 600 sustainability-related classes and more than 40% of UConn's research faculty does original academic work that benefits the environment. Since 2005, the main campus has slashed its water use by 15%, and over the past two years 13 of its buildings were retrofitted to prevent 2,640 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. In the dining halls, more than a quarter of the food is processed within 100 miles, with many ingredients harvested right on campus. Further afield, the school's Forest Committee tends more than 2,000 acres of open space.

Congratulations from U21 on this fantastic achievement!



If you would like to submit a story for the next edition of the e-bulletin, please send it to Lucy Smith (l.smith.1@bham.ac.uk) by 1 November 2013.