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10 Things Germans Do Better Than Americans

“Here are 10 things Germans do better than Americans. Germany and the US are both pretty cool countries, but that doesn’t mean they’re the same across the board. 

Number 10. Engineering. Much of it comes down to training. Germany’s vocational system continues to thrive and offers learning opportunities that combine practical application and theory. Among the most sought after programs is a 3-year apprenticeship with the multi-industry innovator Siemens.

Number 9. Beer Gardens. Makeshift sidewalk cafes are plentiful in the US, but actual expansive, dedicated areas where people can sit in large groups and in some cases even bring their own food are quite rare. In Germany, on the other hand, they’re a regular thing.

Number 8. Soccer. As you may know, the 2014 World Cup title went to the German team. It’s expected that their winning streak will continue as the current team has been playing together at various levels for about 10 years, and is now well prepared for world domination.

Number 7. College Fees. The typical college graduate in Germany leaves school with no educational debt. As of October 2014, every public higher learning institution in the country is tuition-free, even for students from abroad.

Number 6. Trains. Sure, Amtrack will get you from one US locale to another, but it’s going to take a while. Thanks to high-speed rail, Germans can travel from city to city in a fraction of the time. The typical train moves at around 180 miles per hour, but express services with fewer stops are available should the regular pace not be quite quick enough.

Number 5. Sundays. It’s a serious day of rest for just about everybody, including people who work in retail. By law, stores in most areas remain closed all day long. There are a few exceptions, but those shopping places are primarily in airports and train stations.

Number 4. Paid Vacation. Employers in Germany are required to not only give workers a minimum of 24 days off a year, they have to pay them for the time away. There are no such mandates in the US, and 25% of the American workforce doesn’t even get one.

Number 3. Healthcare. In addition to healthcare coverage in Europe being generally more comprehensive, the prices of procedures are often significantly lower. For example, in 2007 numbers, a hip replacement performed in Germany cost roughly half of what it did in the US.

Number 2. Castles. One of the greatest things about countries that were architecturally active during medieval times are the amazing castles we see today. Often perched high on mountaintops, their presence lends a fairy-tale feel to the countryside.

Number 1. Driving. Considering many stretches of the Autobahn have no speed limit and analysis shows that fast driving results in more accidents, one would expect Germans to be involved way more fatal crashes than Americans. Yet, they’re not. In 2012 Germany had less than half the number the US did.

What’s your favorite thing about Germany?

(Go to their channel, it’s Americans doing this comparison with several countries.)

Perceived hiring biases against women working in science, technology, engineering, and math have been around as long as women have been graduating from STEM programs. From 2008 to 2010, women received the majority of doctorate degrees in life and social sciences but only 32 percent of the open assistant professorships.

Now comes a study that offers something of a counter-narrative — that, given the chance, universities would rather hire women for STEM tenure-track positions.

Could It Be? Researchers Find A Hiring Bias That Favors Women

Illustration Credit: LA Johnson/NPR

Twelve things fic featuring British universities sometimes doesn’t quite get right

This short guide focuses mostly on some of the differences between British and American higher education systems. It is aimed at writers of fan (and original) fiction concerned in some way with characters that are students at, or alumni of, British universities.

Inevitably there will be exceptions to the information detailed here.

1. Your character is probably attending ‘university’ (or ‘uni’). Not ‘college’ or ‘school’. School is usually reserved for referring to pre-tertiary education in the UK.

2. Your character wouldn’t apply to institutions directly. Potential students are restricted to five (some exceptions) applications via the application service UCAS, and from the offers they receive they can select one firm and one insurance choice (to be used if they do not achieve the A level (or equivalent) grades at the end of high school to get into their firm choice). Prior to 1961, potential undergraduates did apply directly to individual universities.

3. Your character doesn’t major in anything. The term ‘major’ isn’t used in relation to university courses. In part due to the shorter course length, UK degrees are usually less broad in their focus than degrees in many other countries; most or all modules/papers taken will be directly related to one’s degree subject. Joint and mixed degrees are available. Students can switch subjects, but it can be difficult to do this beyond the first few weeks of their course.

4. Your character isn’t studying pre-med – law and medicine are undergraduate degrees in the UK. Three years for law, five for medicine. Post-degree training is required in addition to a degree to become fully qualified. Four year medicine graduate entry courses for those with a non-medical first degree are available, and one year law conversion courses for those with a non-legal first degree are available.

5. Your character doesn’t live in a dorm. A building of university-owned accommodation is called a ‘hall of residence’, known as ‘halls’. Students usually live in halls in their first year, and elsewhere thereafter. RA is not a term used in the UK.

6. Your character is overwhelmingly unlikely to have a roommate. There are exceptions, but these are fairly rare examples: St. Cuthbert’s Society and some other colleges at the University of Durham have some shared rooms*; Aberystwyth University were forced to put bunk beds in some rooms one year to cope with an increased student intake; etc. Generally speaking, UK students each get their own room.

7. It’s unlikely all your character’s teachers will be professors. At most universities, professorships are reserved for only the most senior academic staff. Other staff are ranked as a reader, senior lecturer or lecturer. There is no such thing as tenure or tenure-track; staff are either employed permanently but subject to usual employment laws and conventions, or on rolling or temporary contracts.

8. Today’s students pay fees, but your British character attending university prior to 1998 would have paid no tuition. As of 2015, up to £9000 a year can be charged, with some regional variations. This is normally paid back via student loan when the graduate starts earning £21,000 a year or more. Students from outside the EU pay more. The introduction and increase of tuition fees has been controversial.

9. Your character might graduate more quickly than you’d expect. A full time BA or BSc takes three years to complete. Language courses last four, to include a year abroad. A taught masters takes a year. A PhD takes three years. Scotland is different - amongst other things, undergraduate degrees in Scotland usually take four years and are broader; some undergraduate Scottish degrees have MA in the title, but this is an undergraduate MA equivalent to an English/Welsh/Northern Irish BA.*

10. Your character did not graduate summa cum laude. Instead of Latin honours, degrees are classed as follows:

  •           First class honours (1st) [the highest class]
  •           Second class honours, upper division (2:1)
  •           Second class honours, lower division (2:2)
  •           Third class honours (3rd)
  •           Ordinary degree (pass)

Until the late 1970s, second class honours were not split into two divisions. Many employers only consider firsts and 2:1s (historically, firsts and seconds) as “good” degrees.

There is no such thing as GPA. Whether courses are assessed by coursework, exams or a mixture of both depends on the particular university course.

 11. Your character probably won’t be strolling around beautiful pre-20th century buildings exclusively. Even at the oldest universities – almost all of which underwent expansion during the concrete-happy 1960s. Part of Queens’ College, Cambridge looks like this. Another part of Queens’ College, Cambridge looks like this.

 12. Does your character attend Oxford or Cambridge? You have some additional things to bear in mind. All of the above information still applies, but Oxbridge is different. The very fact that Oxbridge (a word used to refer to the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge together) is a term that exists indicates that they are often considered both separate from other universities and interchangeable with each other. They are the oldest universities in the UK, and they are the only UK universities with endowments that run into the billions rather than millions of pounds. The key things to be aware of are that Oxford and Cambridge are made up of semi-autonomous constituent colleges (and that it is fairly common to live in your college for all three undergraduate years), that students are regularly taught in groups of 1-3 (called the tutorial system at Oxford, the supervision system at Cambridge) and that there’s quite a lot of jargon to colour your writing with should you wish to.

This more specific information is pertinent as a disproportionately high number of fictional characters and famous people attended either Oxford or Cambridge, from James Bond and Charles Xavier to 41 out of 55 British prime ministers. (114 other institutions are also available.)

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I hope that some of that information was useful to you. I am here to answer your brit-picking university (especially Oxbridge) questions if you have them!

(* = an edit has been made)

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Pretty degree

You would think this pretty document, dating from 1551, is a charter issued by a duke or a royal court. However, it is a university diploma from the University of Aix. It was handed out by the chancellor to a student (a monk). How times have changed: it is a giant leap from this colourful piece of parchment to the printed piece of paper handed out by universities today.

Pics: Aix en Provence, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 752 (dated 1551).

58% of American colleges are limiting free speech — and one lawsuit is hoping to win it back

We expect to hear stories on repressing freedom of speech in countries like Russia, not in the U.S. But right here in the land of the free, American universities, the pillars of protest movements and open dialogue, are suppressing free speech.

In response, the first-ever coordinated legal battle against U.S. universities was filed on Tuesday in four states as part of the “Stand Up for Speech” litigation project. Three-fifths of public colleges violate the First Amendment by imposing free speech policies on their campuses.

Read more | Follow micdotcom

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The University of Timbuktu,

Located in modern day Mali, the City of Timbuktu was the heart of the Mali and Songhai Empires.  At the center of the city was the University of Timbuktu, one of the oldest universities in world history, being found in the 12th century AD.  At its height the University of Timbuktu enrolled 25,000 students a year.  The university offered four different degrees; a Secondary Degree, Primary Degree, Superior Degree, and Circle of Knowledge.  Subjects offered included religion, philosophy, geography, business, astronomy, science, mathematics, and medicine.

Today the buildings that made up the University of Timbuktu serve as Mosques.  They still serve as a repository of thousands of ancient manuscripts and books.

Halle (Saale) in Sachsen-Anhalt, Eastern Germany. Its university is one of the oldest in Germany. The city is situated along the river Saale; Leipzig is only 35 km away. Halle’s early history is connected with harvesting of salt. The name reflects early Celtic settlement given that ‘halen’ is the Brythonic (Welsh/Breton) word for salt (cf. 'salann’ in Irish). The name of the river Saale also contains the Germanic root for salt. Salt-harvesting has taken place here at least since the Bronze Age (2300-600 BC). The town was first mentioned in AD 806. It became a part of the Archbishopric of Magdeburg in the 10th century and remained so until 1680, when Brandenburg-Prussia annexed it together with Magdeburg as the Duchy of Magdeburg, while it was also an important location for Martin Luther’s Reformation. According to historic documents, the city of Halle has been a member of the Hanseatic League at least since 1281.

If you want the highest salary, don’t go to an Ivy League school

Instead of privileging institutional reputation, financial resources and selective studies, such as the U.S News & World Report ranking, the PayScale list offers a cold, hard look at how well-prepared students at each school are when they enter the job market. Notice the glaring lack of Ivy League schools and other traditionally touted colleges. Instead, military schools and tech institutes are well-represented.

Here’s how the Ivies rank | Follow micdotcom