November 20, 2010

Danish Law Would Discourage Future Nobel Prize Winners From Seeking Work

After the American Century

The Danish government has proposed rules for admission to the country that would discriminate against the vast majority of the world's PhDs. Notably, the new rules would favor only two of those who received the Nobel Prize in 2010. The restrictive regulations that the right-wing government has proposed would give bonus points to anyone with a degree from one of the world’s top twenty universities, as determined by the London Times annual poll. Restricting the list to just the top 20 schools is a serious mistake. It should include at least the first 200 schools, especially since none of the Danish universities are anywhere near the top twenty. The rather nasty implication is that foreigners  (or the Danes themselves!) with Danish PhDs are not really good enough.

In the London Times, DTU is ranked 122, Aarhus 167, and Copenhagen 177. As a group the Danish universities have fallen in the rankings considerably in recent years.

The danger of excluding Nobel Prize winners is by no means a hypothetical exercise. A few years ago, one of this year's winners, Konstatin Novselov was offered a position at the University Copenhagen, but his admission to the country became so snarled in red tape that he went to get his Ph.D. in Holland, at the University of Nijmegen. Just how many top quality doctoral students and faculty are lost in this way? Some never apply in the first place, because Denmark has become known as a nation whose government creates problems for non-citizens.

The list below includes the universities that the 2010 Nobel Prize winners either attended or now teach in.  I have put in parenthesis each school’s position in the London Times world ranking. Note that seven of the universities associated with this year’s winners are not even in the top 200 universities, much less the top 20.

Carnegie Mellon University (20)
Edinburgh University (40)
Essex University (not in the first 200)
Hokkaido University (not in the first 200)
Jilin University (China) (not in the first 200)
London School of Economics (86)
Madrid University (not in the first 200)
Manchester University (87)
MIT (3)
Nijmegen University (not in the first 200)
Northwestern University (25)
Peking Normal University (not in the first 200)
Purdue University (106)
Russian Academy of Sciences, Chernogolovka  (not in the first 200)
University of Delaware (159)
University of Tokyo (26)
University of Wales (not in the first 200)

The world’s top 20 Universities according to the London Times
1            Harvard University        USA
2            California Institute of Technology           USA
3            Massachusetts Institute of Technology    USA
4            Stanford University            USA
5            Princeton University            USA
6            University of Cambridge       United Kingdom           
6            University of Oxford             United Kingdom           
8            University of California Berkeley   USA           
9            Imperial College London  United Kingdom           
10          Yale University   USA           
11          University of California Los Angeles    USA
12          University of Chicago       USA           
13          Johns Hopkins University    USA
14          Cornell University            USA
15          Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich Switzerland           
15          University of Michigan            USA           
17          University of Toronto            Canada           
18          Columbia University            USA           
19          University of Pennsylvania            USA
20          Carnegie Mellon University, USA

See also World University Rankings, 2011- 2012, elsewhere on this blog (October, 2011)