Top Ten

November 15, 2006

Mass Kidnapping at Baghdad Research Institute

At 9:30am yesterday, about 80 gunmen dressed as police commandos used more than 20 vehicles to kidnap about 150 staff and visitors at a Baghdad research institute, in the largest mass abduction since the start of the US occupation of Iraq. The Iraq higher education minister immediately ordered all universities closed until security improvements are made. A string of killings and attacks on Iraqi academics has prompted thousands of professors and researchers to flee to neighbouring countries in recent weeks. Maclean's 

Brock Faculty Strike Threatens Winter Exams

The faculty at Brock University, working without a contract since June, have set a December 5th strike date with 88% support, in case scheduled mediation on December 3 is unsuccessful. Winter exams at Brock are scheduled to start December 4. Negotiations, which began last April, are focused on a proposal to cap salaries, although Brock professors "remain among the lowest paid in the province." Brock Press article 

BC Orders Inspection of Lansbridge University

Yesterday, the BC government announced an inspection of a second private university owned by the Kingston Education Group. Kingston College was ordered shut down on October 4 for offering degrees from unrecognized post-secondary institutions. Four international MBA students allege they were offered degrees from Lansbridge University as compensation when Kingston closed. Lansbridge University, located in Vancouver, has about 300 students. Critics are pushing to close existing loopholes in the BC University Act, which allows private institutions to grant degrees in BC if they have education operations in other countries. UBC Ubyssey  

Decline Reversed in US Foreign Students

Monday's New York Times reported that a five-year decline in foreign students coming to the US appears to be turning the corner. The Institute of International Education reports an 8% increase in the number of international students at American colleges and universities, now totalling 142,923. The State Department issued a record 591,050 student and exchange visas in the past twelve months, a 14% increase over the previous year. Favourite destination schools are the U of Southern California, Columbia, Purdue, NYU and the U of Texas at Austin. Top countries of origin are India, China, Korea, Japan, and Canada. New York Times 

How Patriotic is Your College?

The Washington Monthly has come up with yet another innovative (and frightening) way to make sense of the higher education landscape, releasing its second annual rankings of "how much a school is benefiting the country." Rebecca Goldin, writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, finds many flaws in the methodology, which purports to measure community service (particularly military service), science and engineering PhD research activity, and "social mobility" (based on Pell Grants). Don't dismiss the rankings too quickly -- many of the top-ranked institutions are bragging about their ratings on their websites. Chronicle of Higher Education (requires subscription)

Montreal Demonstrations Against Armed Forces Recruitment

Concordia University's student newspaper, The Link, reports that a campaign called "Operation Objection" seeks to counter the federal government's plans to recruit 5,000 additional personnel for the Canadian Forces through hundreds of events, specifically at universities and CEGEPS. "The recruitment campaign avoids a constructive public debate over whether Canada should be in Afghanistan in the first place." Brock Press 

CMSF Pilot Projects to Promote PSE

The Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation has launched several pilot projects to raise expectations of access and success in post-secondary education among at-risk secondary school students. "Future to Discover," in conjunction with the New Brunswick and Manitoba provincial governments, brings classroom-based interventions to grades 10, 11 and 12 to explore career options. "Learning Accounts" offers low-income New Brunswick students an $8,000 trust account. The "AVID" program, which has been implemented in over 1,900 US high schools, places average BC students in advanced PSE prep classes with additional supports, to transform "passive learners" into "active learners." Two other intervention programs aim to encourage PSE participation among aboriginals in Northern Manitoba and BC. CMSF 

Congratulations to Academica's Peggy Sattler

Monday was municipal election day in Ontario, and everyone at Academica Group is pleased and proud that Peggy Sattler, one of our senior consultants, handily won re-election as school board trustee for the Thames Valley District School Board. Despite working long hours on applicant survey reports for our clients, Peggy found time to run a successful election campaign and take an active role in the world of education too. Congratulations Peggy!

Catholic Colleges Reinforce their Religious Identity

According to an article in this weekend's Boston Globe, the Vatican is encouraging Catholic colleges across the US to reinforce their Catholic mission and identity in the face of increasing secularization. Notre Dame and Holy Cross are trying to increase the percentage of Catholic professors on faculty. Emmanuel College and many others have opened new centres for mission and spirituality. Other colleges are sending major percentages of their faculty on European pilgrimages. Boston College has launched an MBA for church administrators. Catholic colleges must wrestle with the tension between Catholic identity and academic freedom, particularly where students wish to hold performances of "The Vagina Monologues," discussions on abortion rights, or gay student meetings. Boston Globe