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Not only tourists have the Irish Republic on their radar. Due to Brexit, many more businesses are set to join the many multinational companies already operating there. As a result, in 2017 the economy grew by 7.3 per cent, making Ireland the fastest-growing European country with a rate three times faster than the wider EU area.

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Up one spot from last year, Japan is three times more densely populated than Europe and twelve times more than the United States. Yet it still manages to ranks highly for both peace and quality of life. While the overall number of recorded crimes in Japan continued to fall in 2017 hitting a record low of 915,111, the good people of Tokyo returned a staggering total of 3.7 billion yen (or $32.7 million) in lost cash to the Metropolitan Police Department -- figures that are also reflected in the low incarceration rate, which in Japan has followed a downward trend starting from the 1950s.

However, when it comes to neighboring countries relations, shaky relationships with China and especially North Korea are often mentioned by the Japanese as reasons of concerns. Japan’s “peace constitution” -- put in place following the Second World War to prohibit the resurrection of aggressive militarism -- was reinterpreted in 2014 to enable “collective self-defense,” hence prompting a restructure and build-up of the country’s strategic capabilities.

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While the Global Peace Index report shows an increasingly violent world, Singapore has become more peaceful. Way more peaceful: it advanced 13 places up from 21st place last year. What prompted this jump? The Institute for Economics and Peace points out that the largest improvements in the ranking are usually broadly based while large deteriorations in peace are usually led by a few indicators. So while Singapore scored highly in the aspects of societal safety and security and low levels of domestic and international conflict, holding it back from the very top spots of the ranking is the level of militarization, with red marks when it comes to armed services personnel, police forces and weapons import expenditure. The reason? Singapore depends on seaborne trade for its prosperity, so having the resources to ensure the smooth passage of vessels through the Strait of Malacca, the narrow stretch of water that serves as a gateway between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, is crucial.

View Singapore GDP and Economic Data

Down one spot from last year, over the last decade the Czech Republic has showed a sustained improvement in a great number of areas ranging from political stability to personal security and international relations.

According to the OECD, it also performs well in many measures of wellbeing, ranking above average in jobs and earnings, work-life balance and education and skills. Not only have 93% of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education -- well above the average rate of 76% and the highest among the 34 industrialized member countries -- but this small nation of 10.5 million can boast the lowest unemployment rate in the European Union at 2.2%, below what economists consider a "natural" level.

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25.01.2018 |

By: Rainer Borer |

The best uni­ver­si­ties in the world, in­clud­ing ETH Zurich, are re­spon­si­ble for a rel­a­tively large pro­por­tion of the world's rel­e­vant sci­en­tific pub­li­ca­tions. This is shown in an analy­sis con­ducted by the rank­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion THE to­gether with the sci­en­tific pub­lisher El­se­vier.

Ox­ford, Cam­bridge, Im­pe­r­ial, Har­vard, Stan­ford, MIT, Co­lum­bia, Prince­ton, Har­vard, Yale and China’s Ts­inghua Uni­ver­sity: they are all mem­bers of the WEF's Global Uni­ver­sity Lead­ers Fo­rum (GULF), as are ETH Zurich and EPFL, the group’s only Swiss mem­bers. GULF meets an­nu­ally in Davos dur­ing the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum to ex­change views on higher ed­u­ca­tion pol­icy is­sues. A new study by THE/El­se­vier shows the re­mark­able sci­en­tific achieve­ment, eco­nomic im­pact and so­cial in­volve­ment of this as­so­ci­a­tion of the two dozen best uni­ver­si­ties in the world.

Top uni­ver­si­ties with top pub­li­ca­tion per­for­mance

The rank­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion Times Higher Ed­u­ca­tion (THE) and El­se­vier, one of the world’s largest sci­en­tific pub­lish­ers, pre­sented the re­sults at an event in ETH Zurich’s pub­lic pavil­ion on the fringes of the WEF. The 27 GULF uni­ver­si­ties to­gether ac­count for more than seven per­cent of the world's sci­en­tific out­put. If you were to com­bine the GULF uni­ver­si­ties into a fic­ti­tious na­tion, the pub­li­ca­tion per­for­mance of these uni­ver­si­ties would rank third glob­ally: be­hind the USA and China, but ahead of all other im­por­tant re­search na­tions such as the UK, Japan and Ger­many. All GULF uni­ver­si­ties to­gether in­vest nearly 20 bil­lion US dol­lars an­nu­ally in their top-class re­search.

The map of the col­lab­o­ra­tion among the GULF group re­veals very strong ties (in­ten­sive col­lab­o­ra­tions) be­tween uni­ver­si­ties with a large vol­ume of re­search out­put. (Il­lus­tra­tion: Times Higher Ed­u­ca­tion / El­se­vier)

High so­cial rel­e­vance

The GULF's cur­rent ac­count is also im­pres­sive in terms of trans­fers in busi­ness and so­ci­ety. Each year, the 27 uni­ver­si­ties at­tract more than 3 bil­lion dol­lars in third-party fund­ing. Ac­cord­ing to the study, this is ap­prox­i­mately 62,000 dol­lars for each re­searcher and teacher at these in­sti­tu­tions. The re­main­ing 1,000 THE-ranked in­sti­tu­tions re­ceive an av­er­age of 27,000 dol­lars in third-party fund­ing per mem­ber of sci­en­tific staff. The GULF uni­ver­si­ties are also re­spon­si­ble for every eighth re­search ci­ta­tion in all patent ap­pli­ca­tions world­wide.

Good eco­nomic net­work­ing

Fi­nally, the study shows that the GULF uni­ver­si­ties en­ter into part­ner­ships pri­mar­ily with large high-tech cor­po­ra­tions. Mi­crosoft, IBM, the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies GSK and Pfizer as well as Google are the com­pa­nies that col­lab­o­rate most with the top uni­ver­si­ties. Re­searchers from GULF uni­ver­si­ties have pub­lished some 45,000 sci­en­tific pa­pers over the past five years work­ing in col­lab­o­ra­tion with pri­vate com­pa­nies. Once again, the two Swiss GULF mem­bers were shown to be among the most in­ter­na­tion­ally con­nected uni­ver­si­ties.

Pub­lic fund­ing re­mains cen­tral

For Lino Guzzella, Pres­i­dent of ETH Zurich, the re­sults of this study show the so­cial rel­e­vance of the world's best uni­ver­si­ties: "It is all the more im­por­tant that we are able to hold our top po­si­tion in in­ter­na­tional rank­ings de­spite in­creas­ing com­pe­ti­tion. To do this, we need au­ton­omy, con­tin­ued solid and long-term fund­ing from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, and the in­no­v­a­tive ideas of our re­searchers and teach­ers." Phil Baty, ed­i­to­r­ial di­rec­tor of the THE World Uni­ver­sity Rank­ings, also un­der­lines the im­por­tance of pub­lic fund­ing: "Many of our most ground-break­ing in­no­va­tions have come from pub­licly funded blue-skies re­search car­ried out in uni­ver­si­ties by aca­d­e­mics who did not have a clear sense of any fu­ture com­mer­cial ap­pli­ca­tions for their work."

The GULF group col­lab­o­rates the most with Mi­crosoft, IBM, GSK, Pfizer and Google. (Il­lus­tra­tion: Times Higher Ed­u­ca­tion / El­se­vier)

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summed it up best after watching tonight's This Is Us season two finale: "You want to know everything about Randall and Tess. Why is it time? Then, of course, we see Kevin going on a journey to Vietnam. Oh, and Toby is in bed and he’s bummed and he’s on meds? What?!"

Exactly. After a relatively surprise-free hour of wedding drama that resulted in Kate and Toby tying the knot, creator Dan Fogelman and the This Is Us writers threw everyone for a collective loop by flash-forwarding a year and more into the future. And it wasn't just any flash-forward, either. It left more questions than answers, especially when it comes to the fates of our beloved characters.

At the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, I sat down for two panels with Fogelman and the cast to dissect exactly what happened on tonight's finale, and what's already in the works for season three. Says Fogelman: "We always know where we’re going. With a show like this, you have to."

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Just Exactly Who Are Randall and Tess Talking About in the Future?


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