Top Ten

November 30, 2006

G13 Leaders on the Future of Canadian PSE

This week, the Toronto Star reported on the G13 summit in Banff, where leaders from Canada's top 13 research-intensive universities gathered to discuss common challenges and concerns, like the future of the Canada Foundation for Innovation, growing public demands for accountability, and "boundary-busting" interdisciplinary scholarly study. Interdisciplinary research is challenged by "quasi-unionized faculty, fierce competition for research funds among professors at the same university, departmental chairs engaged in turf protection, and graduate students worried about becoming academic orphans without job prospects if some faddish interdisciplinary initiative flames out." Teaching is being redefined not as "the transmission of knowledge from professors to students," but the construction of knowledge together. Toronto Star 

Ontario Students Petition for Lower Tuition Fees

Yesterday, students from the University of Windsor delivered a petition with 3,000 signatures to Ontario MPPs, calling for "the rollback of the McGuinty government's tuition fee increases, the restoration of the tuition fee freeze, and an increase in funding for post-secondary education." Students claim that tuition fees in Ontario have risen up to 8%, and numerous petitions with more than 40,000 student signatures have been delivered since September. The Canadian Federation of Students has established a dedicated website, CFS media release

Time to Trumpet a College Education

A survey of more than 21,000 Ontario grade 11 and 12 students, conducted by Queen's University on behalf of ACAATO, found that high school students are "more tuned into the benefits of a university degree than a college diploma or degree," because they don't understand the payback of college or apprenticeship programs, which are currently delivered in a "fragmented and confused system." The study also found that more than half of Ontario parents expect their children to go to university, when actually only one-third do so. Not surprisingly, grade averages play a major role in students' educational choices. Queen's news

Saint Mary's University Faces Deficit, Potential Strike

Halifax's Chronicle Herald obtained an internal memo from SMU president Colin Dodds, dated last Friday, outlining a plan to cut $2 million in expenses and draw $1 million from a contingency fund in order to overcome a projected $3 million deficit for the current year. 11 university departments are undergoing a routine review for cost efficiencies. The SMU Students' Union also faces a reduced budget because of declining enrolment. The SMU faculty union recently voted to strike, but has agreed to wait until after fall term exams. The Chronicle Herald story was picked up by at least one US news service. Chronicle Herald

Concordia Grows Online Education

"eConcordia," created in November 2000, has grown from a single engineering course to 10 courses with 9,800 students. Because of growing demand, eConcordia expects to grow to 35 online courses within the next two years. CEGEP students take eConcordia courses during the summer prior to first year university, and international students take their first year online from their home country. "We will never offer a degree online. We recognize that learning online is a complement to the classroom experience and a teaching institution should continue to offer classroom-based education." New online offerings for September 2007 include Canadian Studies, Public Security, and Global Conflict in the Middle East. Concordia Journal

Waterloo Robotics Competition for High School "Mech-Heads"

The University of Waterloo announced yesterday that it is inviting high school students across southwestern Ontario to participate in the first round of the FIRST international competition in robotics. Teams of high school students and their mentors work to solve a common problem in a six-week period using a standard parts kit and common rules. "FIRST is the acronym for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. This is really about making science, math, engineering and technology as cool for kids as sports are today." The UW-hosted event is one of two Canadian venues hosting a regional FIRST competition in 2007. The other takes place at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga. UW media release

Profs Call for Moratorium on Private Universities in BC

The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators called yesterday for a moratorium on degree-granting status for private universities, after last week's decision to give degree-granting status to Quest University in Squamish BC. "Over the past couple of months British Columbians have seen how ineffective the government's regulation of private post-secondary institutions has become and how that has backfired, mostly to the detriment of students." (Kingston College has been at the centre of controversy in BC in recent months.) FPSE media release

Montreal Investing in Quartier Concordia

Concordia University was pleased to learn yesterday that the City of Montreal will be investing in the Quartier Concordia project, which will "transform the Sir George Williams campus from a random collection of buildings into a welcoming and cohesive urban campus," improving the use of outdoor spaces, stimulating street life, and "providing respite for the Concordia community and the public." Concordia media release

Mt Allison Students Launch "Liberating Boys" Website

Nine students in a senior sociology class, Feminist Perspectives, at Mount Allison University are launching the Liberating Boys website this morning with a media conference. offers parents, teachers, and coaches insight into issues like masculinity, relationships, athletics, violence, education, and what has become known as the "boy crisis" in our society. Boys are lagging girls in school, are more likely to be diagnosed with a learning disability or ADHD, to be perpetrators or victims of violent crime, and to commit suicide. One of the authors of the site says, "It allows us to put to use what we are learning and take it to the next step and feel more compassion for boys." (thanks to Laura Dillman, Mount Allison)

Just Like Mom Used to Make

The Boston Globe reports that college dining halls across the US have started borrowing recipes from students' parents to create more "heartwarming" meals for Millennial students, and to reduce the jokes about "mystery meat" in the cafeteria. Colleges see the approach as a way to lend a little culinary flair to their cafeteria and relieve homesickness, too. uGeorgia began the "Taste of Home" competition 20 years ago, and now winners are selected from hundreds of entries each year. Lately the practice has been catching on at big universities like Harvard and Yale. Boston Globe