Education in New Europe
A list of the best research universities in ‘New Europe’ has been published by Times Higher Education. The specialist publication is famed for its global university rankings and defines New Europe as the countries comprising the 13 member states to have joined the European Union since 2004. Estonia’s University of Tartu tops the table thanks to its acclaimed research environment. Two Cyprus-based institutions - the University of Technology and the University of Cyprus - take second and third places respectively. Among the 53 universities and colleges on the list, 13 are in the Czech Republic, with Prague’s Charles University in fourth place, thanks to its strong score for teaching environment. Poland is the second-best represented country with 12 institutions on the rankings. Hungary boasts 7, while Romania accounts for 5. Croatia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Latvia, and Bulgaria were also represented. Only Malta of the 13 EU states failed to crack the list.
Times Higher Education’s drafting of the table was scheduled to coincide with its New Europe Summit on Research Excellence, held at the Palacky University in Czech town of Olomouc (which was 10th on the list) in April.
On the global world rankings for 2018, Oxford University is number 1, followed by local rival Cambridge University. Imperial College London and ETH Zurich are the only other universities in the top ten, which is dominated by American institutions.
Sports star to business star
A former rugby player from Ireland has been named the country’s Best Young Entrepreneur for 2018. Conor O’Loughlin, aged 35, won the finals of a competition organised by the network of Local Enterprise Offices in Dublin. O’Loughlin edged out tough challenges from hundreds of young entrepreneurs throughout the country. His company - Glofox - was named Best Established Business to go alongside his award of Best Young Entrepreneur.
Set up in 2014, Glofox is a software system that simplifies payments and other information for gym users and gym owners. In less than four years O’Loughlin has gone from a retired rugby player with a hip injury, to an established businessman with thousands of gyms in 23 countries using his smart gym system. This year Glofox has plans to conquer America with an office being set up in New York.
Winning the Dublin competition brings Glofox a welcome €40,000 investment prize. A total of 185 young entrepreneurs have won smaller amounts of several thousands euros to back their projects through participation in the competition.
The contest is open to all young Ireland-based entrepreneurs aged between 18 and 35. In 2018 there was a record 5,700 applications for entry to the prestigious competition, said Irish minister for trade, employment and business, Pat Breen.
Youth conference nightmare
Chaos erupted following an EU-funded youth conference in Sofia as the president of the European Youth Forum accused the organisers of being behind a disastrous event. Luis Alvarado claimed that volunteers were forced to applaud a speech given by Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borissov and that young people attending the event were deliberately excluded from being on discussion panels.
There were also reports that vodka was served and half-naked dancers paid by the Bulgarian government to ‘make a show’. Alvarado, a Spaniard who has served as EYF president since January 2017, also claimed that there were issues with flight costs not being paid upfront, forcing young participants to reach into their own pockets.
The Bulgarian government has reacted angrily to the claims circulating about the April conference. One politician said Alvarado wasn’t even at the event, despite video evidence to the contrary. The vodka story was also denied, with an official stating that there was only table wine and the entertainment provided was entirely suitable.
A volunteer said that she received a text message saying she should applaud Borissov’s speech but that she would have done so anyway. Opposition politician Kornelia Ninova, said there was ‘complete disregard’ for young people and ‘not a single young person on any of the panels’.