Most Read Times Higher Education Articles in 2021


Our annual list of the most read always covers the main concerns of Times Higher Education readers – workload, careers and academic freedom, to give just three examples – but often seems to say something more tangible about the past year. The 2020 list, for example, was dominated by stories about Covid-19. The pandemic also looms large in this year’s edition, but with a very different focus, the focus shifting from the shock of campus closings to the question of when major academic sectors would reopen to international students. The interest of future foreign learners in articles on this topic undoubtedly reflected the isolation and despair many felt when border closures and travel restrictions were lifted and changed in the face of an evolving threat. rapid pandemic.

Nevertheless, the list as a whole also reflects the diversity of THEjournalism. Perhaps it offers a silver lining that 2022 will be the year of a return to some sort of normalcy – for academics, academic professionals and students, including those who travel to study.

15. Four in ten UK doctoral students are “at high risk of suicide”, according to a study

Articles on the well-being of doctoral students continue to receive a lot of attention, reflecting the particular pressures on this group of learners. This story, reporting research suggesting that a significant proportion of UK doctoral students were at risk of suicide, highlighted these issues and came as funders finally sought to take action to improve the doctoral experience. .

14. Harvard moves its Chinese program to Taiwan

The quicksand of relations between China and the West has been a constant theme in THEjournalism in 2020, but it was this story – reporting that Harvard University would move its intensive Chinese-language program from Beijing to Taiwan due to alleged difficulties operating in mainland China – that particularly piqued the interest of readers . Jennifer Liu, head of Chinese languages ​​at Harvard, said the move reflected what she saw as a less friendly environment for American institutions in China in recent years.

13. Polish pressure forces Holocaust historian to censor himself

Little THE the articles attract more comment on social media than those exploring attempts by the Polish right to impose a narrative of exclusive victimization in relation to the Holocaust, downplaying the accounts of local complicity unearthed by some historians. This article, based on a France-based researcher saying she would tone down her next book and avoid naming names for fear of legal action, also got a lot of clicks.

12. The British Council, affected by Covid-19, sells its Indian IELTS activity to IDP

It has been a difficult year for the British Council, which has been forced to close 20 offices around the world as part of a restructuring program sparked by cuts to the UK’s overseas aid budget and forfeited the contract operating Turing’s foreign mobility program. This story examined some of the fallout from those hardships, with the council choosing to sell the Indian branch of its IELTS English testing business for £ 130million.

11. The teaching of German universities in English is inevitably imperfect

Is it a good thing that European universities offer more degrees taught in English? This is a question that THE explored several times, and the answer offered in this opinion piece – by Brian Bloch, professor of English for academic research at the University of Münster – was an emphatic ‘no’. The limited mastery of teachers in Germany and concerns about the marginalization of the national culture could lead to a backlash against the discourse of institutions in the international market, the article warns.

10. MIT’s dean of digital learning steps down as backlash from edX sale rises

The sale of the non-profit edX online course platform to for-profit competitor 2U was big news this summer, but not everyone was happy with it. As this scoop from our North American Editor-in-Chief Paul Basken revealed, Krishna Rajagopal has announced his resignation as Dean of Digital Learning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – which founded edX with the Harvard University – after telling colleagues he had “serious lingering reservations about the way forward.” for edX that MIT announced ”.

9. Quarantine? Depends on nationality of students, according to Australia

One of the frustrations of the Covid pandemic has been the apparent contradictions caused by hasty changes in restrictions aimed at responding to a rapidly evolving virus. This article highlighted how the first international student plane to reach Sydney in 21 months had to spend its first fortnight in quarantine – a prospect that other foreigners at the same boarding point had to avoid.

8. Servant rulers should not be slaves to their institutions.

What should higher education leaders do in the face of such pain, chaos and willful ignorance that has surfaced during the pandemic, this opinion piece asked by consultant Kathy Johnson Bowles . They should start acting on principle rather than the politics of power and place, she argued, becoming teacher-activists who dare to disrupt, use the language and logic of change to serve a greater good. , help people lift themselves out of poverty and realize their potential for prosperity.

7. Australian borders closed on the eve of their opening

For much of the year, it was “are they going, aren’t they” when it comes to reopening Australia’s borders to international students. In this story, it almost was, and then it won’t, as Canberra postponed the reopening for a fortnight with barely 30 hours to go, in response to the emergence of the Omicron variant. Australia finally welcomed international students on December 15.

6. Nicholas Hitchon: the “Seven Up” scientist known to millions of people

Interviewing academics is one of the joys of writing for THE but this article profiled a researcher known not for his professional achievements, but as “Nick”, one of the stars of the At the top documentaries. Nicholas Hitchon, who has worked at the University of Wisconsin-Madison since 1982, said he no longer saw the programs “like my story – it’s everybody’s story; it shows the human condition ”.

5. Three hard truths I learned before moving on to a non-academic career

Although many doctoral and post-docs aspire to a career in research, it is sad that there simply aren’t enough jobs for everyone. In this blog, former speaker – and now user experience expert – Janelle Ward shared her thoughts on transitioning out of academia, telling her peers employers will value the experience more than doctorates.

4. Australia must start readmitting international students

As many western sectors prepared to welcome international students again for another academic year, anxiety increased in Australia over the summer as the country’s borders remained closed. “The Covid Zero strategy, aided by severe lockdowns and closed borders, has become a mantra indifferent to distinctions and disproportionate in its application,” wrote Binoy Kampmark, lecturer at RMIT University, urging the adoption of vaccine passports to allow the return of foreign learners.

3. Australia prepares to restart international education from the bunker

In August, Australia’s international education policy was undergoing radical change, with representative groups preparing practical steps to revive the Covid-stricken sector as new waves of infection forced much of the country into lockdown. Plans under consideration included dedicated charter flights, a digital vaccine passport and visa fee waivers, our Asia-Pacific editor John Ross reported.

2. Workaholic academics must stop being proud of their burnout

Academic workload is another essential element of THE the most read lists, and with good reason, in the light of surveys suggesting excessive levels of overtime throughout the sector. In this opinion piece, Fleur Jongepier and Mathijs van de Sande urged academics to take a stand: “Make a real effort to only work the hours you’re paid for (and let shit hit the fan every now and then. ); go on vacation (and stick to your automatic response); avoid bragging about being busy (often a twisted form of virtue signaling); leave meetings early to pick up your kids, go on a date or visit friends (and be open to having a life); don’t hire the workaholic with huge post lists, but the team player who wouldn’t be a passive spectator; tell your students that academic excellence, or writing a doctoral thesis, does not require 60-hour work weeks let alone 80 hours; tell them academia needs people who have rich non-college lives. And last but not least, post less and complain more to people in positions of power. “

1. UK relaxes post-study work visa rules for distance learners

This January post is coming soon THE standards, amounting to 283 words, and could not be claimed to be either a great scoop or the result of a thorough journalistic investigation. But its appearance at the top of this year’s Most Read list reflects the keen interest of potential international students in accessing major study markets as the coronavirus pandemic booms. The article explained that international students who study remotely would still be eligible to apply for the UK’s new two-year post-study work visa until their degree is completed this year, under a grant. announced by the Interior Ministry.

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