Archive for October 3rd, 2017

Who Says These Colleges & Universities Are the ‘Best’?

The annual rankings of the "best" colleges in the world are rolling out, which many students use as a starting point for selecting colleges.

"Rankings are surely more important to internationals than domestic students because college rankings were the main sources for us to decide where to apply," said Lanca Li, a recent graduate of Emerson College's film department.

Li is from China and began her college career at the University of California-Santa Barbara. She says the school's academic ranking played into her original decision. But when she decided to transfer after the first semester, Li paid more attention to word-of-mouth reputations.

"I knew that Emerson is famous among filmmakers and students," Li said. "Being featured on Hollywood Reporter as one of the best film schools definitely helped."

An aspiring filmmaker, Li knew the American magazine covers the Los Angeles film, television and entertainment industries. A name drop in their pages meant Emerson was the real deal.

"A lot of my Chinese friends in the UC system were tweeting and posting about how high their schools ranked," said Li. "I think there's a sense of pride and accomplishment to get into the top 50/100/200 schools."

Although U.S. Department of Education statistics show that higher ranking schools produce graduates with higher salaries, not everyone will get into the top schools, experts say. Students are encouraged to look for the right fit over prestige.

"It is important that they look at other factors," said Rajika Bhandari, head of research, policy and practice at the Institute of International Education. "The U.S. Department of State's Education: USA network offers an unbiased source of information on the whole range of U.S. higher education institutions, from community colleges to liberal arts colleges to research universities."

Having said that, here are the rankings:

Times Higher Education (World)

The University of Oxford snagged the No. 1 spot for the second year, while the University of Cambridge beat out the California Institute of Technology and Stanford University for second place, according to Times Higher Education, a respected British ranking and publisher.

CalTech and Stanford tied for third on THE's list.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Princeton University, Imperial College London and University of Chicago placed fifth through ninth. The University of Zurich (ETH Zurich) in Switzerland and University of Pennsylvania tied for 10th.

Cambridge rose in the ranks because of a boost in research quality and research income, said Times Higher Education, a weekly magazine in London. CalTech and Stanford were hurt by dips in their Ph.D.-to-bachelor's student ratios.

Oxford's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit received a record-breaking amount of funding in 2016 after the poaching of a beloved African lion, Cecil, in Zimbabwe in July 2015. It was one of the major contributing factors that bumped Oxford above CalTech, said Louise Richardson, Oxford's vice-chancellor, to The Telegraph last year. Prior, CalTech had held first place five years running.

THE says it uses 13 performance indicators to rank institutions, including innovation, international diversity, teaching, research and citations. It's one of the most widely consulted global rankings, called "arguably the most influential" by the Globe and Mail in 2010.

Oxford accepted 17 percent of 19,144 applicants for the 2016 school year, according to its website. International students from outside the United Kingdom make up 18.5 percent of the undergraduate student body. Chinese and American students sent the most applications out of any non-EU region, with 9 percent and 6 percent acceptance rates, respectively.

Times Higher Education (U.S.)

THE also recently released their U.S. college ranking list. The U.S. list emphasizes student engagement, student outcomes, and learning environments rather than the institution's research performance, which the global list prioritizes.

From first to 10th, these are THE's top American universities: Harvard, Columbia University, Stanford University, MIT, Duke University, Yale University, CalTech, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University and Cornell University.

Shanghai Ranking

Academic Ranking of World Universities, also known as Shanghai Ranking, is another globally respected college ranking service, ranking since 2003.

Harvard topped their list, with Stanford following second. Cambridge, MIT, University of California-Berkeley, Princeton, Oxford, Columbia University, CalTech and the University of Chicago ranked third through 10th.

US News & World Report

U.S. publications gave American schools higher rankings: Princeton University, Harvard, University of Chicago and Yale University (tied for third), Columbia University, Stanford and MIT (tied for fifth), while the University of Pennsylvania, Duke University in North Carolina, and CalTech scored eighth, ninth, and 10th, respectively, according to US News & World Report.

Forbes rankings

Forbes Magazine ranked Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Princeton, MIT, CalTech, University of Pennsylvania, Duke, Brown, and Pomona College in that order.

Forbes also ranked the "best" public colleges in America. The U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, placed first and edged out the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, from the seat it's held since 2014. Third was the University of California-Berkeley, followed by the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and the University of Virginia at No. 5. The Air Force Academy took sixth place, with No. 7 going to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and University of California-Los Angeles maintaining eighth place. The Merchant Marine Academy climbed to No. 9 from 61 while the College of William and Mary in Virginia dropped to No. 10.

Niche rankings

Newcomer site Niche says they use a complicated formula to rank schools. They boast the most comprehensive data in the industry, using "rigorous analysis of academic, admissions, financial, and student life data from the U.S. Department of Education along with millions of reviews from students and alumni" to rank and profile K-12 schools, as well as colleges.

Niche's college ranking was comprised of only American universities. They put Stanford at the top of the list, followed by MIT, Harvard, Yale, Rice University in Texas, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, Brown, Bowdoin College in Maine, and CalTech.

"Rankings are not benign," said Malcolm Gladwell, writing in the New Yorker in 2011. "They enshrine very particular ideologies and, at a time when American higher education is facing a crisis of accessibility and affordability, we have adopted a de-facto standard of college quality that is uninterested in both of those factors."

"If we don't understand what the right proxies for college quality are, let alone how to represent those proxies in a comprehensive, heterogeneous grading system, then our rankings are inherently arbitrary."

Source: Voice of America

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Zimbabwe Police Hold Reporter for Story on Grace Mugabe

HARARE �Police in Zimbabwe detained a journalist for reporting that President Robert Mugabe's wife allegedly donated used underwear and women's nightgowns to ruling party supporters, a defense lawyer said Tuesday.

Kenneth Nyangani, a reporter with the NewsDay newspaper, was detained on Monday in the eastern city of Mutare after the story was published but police have not formally charged him, lawyer Passmore Nyakureba said.

In the Newsday story published Monday, Nyangani reported that a ruling party legislator donated the clothing items on behalf of Grace Mugabe. The first lady, whose political profile has risen in the recent years, routinely donates clothing and food items to ruling party supporters at her rallies.

They wanted to charge him with criminal defamation, but I told them that law has been struck down by the Constitutional Court, Nyakureba said of his conversations with police. They didn't even seem aware of that fact. They are also not telling us whether the complainant is the first lady or the legislator.

Amnesty International appealed for Nyangani's release, describing his arrest as an attempt to harass and intimidate him and other journalists.

The intention is to send a chilling message to journalists and media workers that they must self-censor rather than expose truths, said Cousin Zilala, executive director of Amnesty's Zimbabwe branch.

President Mugabe, meanwhile, was in South Africa on Tuesday for a meeting with President Jacob Zuma. He was not accompanied by his wife, who received diplomatic immunity from South Africa after being accused of attacking a young woman in a Johannesburg hotel in August and inflicting head wounds by whipping her with an extension cord.

AfriForum, a group representing 20-year-old Gabriella Engels, has said it is challenging the South African government over the immunity issue in an attempt to complicate any effort by Zimbabwe's first lady to return to South Africa.

Grace Mugabe has denied any wrongdoing, saying Engels attacked her with a knife while drunk.

Source: Voice of America

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Researchers Work on Drought-tolerant Maize for Africa

GOKWE, ZIMBABWE �In Zimbabwe, researchers say they are breeding maize that is drought and heat resistant as part of efforts to fight hunger across Africa, where maize is a staple food.

In Hezekaya Village in Gokwe, about 200 kilometers west of Harare, cotton is what most people plant because it can grow in hot, dry weather. But that is slowly changing, thanks to a program of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, funded by USAID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The head of the center's southern Africa program, Cosmos Magorogosho, says the vitamin-A fortified, drought-resistant maize varieties being developed will ensure food security across Africa if they are widely adopted.

"Since its inception, this program has been able to produce more than 50,000 tons of maize seed, not just for Zimbabwe, but for Southern Africa, Eastern Africa and West Africa," Magorogosho said. "And these seeds are certified. They have been produced by seed companies and have been marketed in communities, and communities are benefiting from increased yields."

According to Zimbabwe's Ministry of Agriculture, this year the country harvested about 2.8 million tons of maize � well above the minimum requirement of 1.8 million tons.

One of the farmers who planted the new seeds is Tariro Mudazvose in Gokwe.

"We managed to have a good harvest in relation to the farming seeds that were distributed to us," Mudazvose said. "There is much difference with other existing maize seeds because this maize seed reduces hunger and is drought resistant. It produces high yields, and creates food security in our households. We eat sadza three times a day as a result of this seed."

Eating sadza, a thick corn porridge, three times a day is a luxury for most people in Zimbabwe because of the chronically poor economy and erratic rainfall.

Across much of sub-Saharan Africa, maize production is almost completely dependent on rain, making farmers highly vulnerable to drought.

Magorogosho hopes the new seeds will make farmers more resilient and productive, and put more sadza on tables across Zimbabwe.

Source: Voice of America

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