Top Ten

December 1, 2006

Another Sexual Assault Near York Campus

After the second sexual assault near the Keele Campus in just more than a week, police are warning that a sexual predator may be targetting York University students. Monday night at 9pm a 19-year-old woman was dragged by her hair and scarf between two houses near the south end of campus and sexually assaulted. Another 19-year-old student was sexually assaulted at gunpoint in the same area early in the evening of November 18th. York spokesperson Richard Fisher informed the Toronto Star that campus security patrols have been stepped up on foot and in vehicles beyond the campus perimeter. Toronto Star 

Dalhousie at a Financial Disadvantage

While the overall financial picture at Dalhousie University has "improved significantly in the past 15 years," Dal operates "at a distinct financial disadvantage" compared to universities offering fewer "high cost" programs, says the chair of a long-term financial planning committee. Dal is Canada's smallest medical-doctoral university, with a significantly higher concentration of students in high-cost graduate, medical, professional and science programs. Dal also has the lowest student-to-faculty ratio in Canada (14:1), even though many assume it has larger classes than other Atlantic universities. Dal must "rebalance enrolment" into lower-cost programs to cope with $192 million in deferred maintenance and escalating employee pension costs. Dal Financial Report (pdf)

uWindsor Buys Daycare Spaces

The University of Windsor signed a partnership agreement yesterday to fund a $600,000 expansion of the nearby Great Beginnings childcare facility, in exchange for 75 guaranteed childcare spaces for university faculty, staff and students starting September 2007. The centre will expand from 47 to 102 spaces, and will consider offering evening hours and drop-in service during exam periods. A student spokesman emphasized how much this service has been needed. uWindsor news 

Barriers to PSE More than Money

A policy brief published by the Canadian Policy Research Networks (CPRN) in March reports that young Canadians from high-income families are more than twice as likely to pursue university, but that it's not simply because of the cost of tuition. A number of recent studies worldwide have found that parental education is more strongly associated with PSE participation than parental income. "Parents' aspirations for their children, encouragement in primary and secondary school, and the quality of information about the costs and benefits of PSE, are also critical." Geographic proximity of colleges and universities matters too. CPRN urges early intervention, sustained public funding to keep tuitions low, and further research to measure the effectiveness of student aid, among other things. CPRN Policy Brief 

uChicago "Selling its Soul" to Improve Rankings

Hundreds of students at the University of Chicago are protesting the loss of its "uncommon application," as the university prepares to adopt the Common Application (CA) in 2008, a centralized online application that allows US students to select multiple colleges at the click of a mouse. More than 1,000 uChicago students have joined a FaceBook group opposing the change, while 12 have joined one favouring it. The Educational Conservancy has identified "a disturbing trend of colleges trying to identify more potential students to reject, so that a college appears to be more selective, and goes up in the rankings." Just a year ago, uChicago's dean of admissions was calling on schools to abandon the CA, but the change follows the arrival of a new president. InsideHigherEd 

Laptops Do Not Improve Student Performance

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have found that, while using a laptop at college provides students more flexibility in where and when they study, there is no evidence that the computers improve student work. In fact, students with laptops spend significantly more time working on assignments, but get roughly the same grades as those who trek to computer labs. "Instead of saving time... laptop users are often killing it" through email, instant messages, and web surfing. Students with laptops are much more likely to work at home, and much less likely to use common spaces on campus. The study claims it is not meant as an indictment of laptops. Chronicle of Higher Education (requires subscription)

LA Times Editorial says Don't Donate to Rich Colleges

Martin Kimel, a government lawyer in Washington, observes that while many of his former classmates at Stanford Law School have been making six-figure donations to his alma mater, he questions whether the millions being donated to law and business schools couldn't be better spent. "Even assuming that training college graduates to be lawyers is a net benefit to society and that most legal scholarship is socially useful," he says income tax deductions are leading to the subsidization of "professor poaching" and "endowment races." The endowments of the ten richest US universities have far surpassed $78 billion, and the US Senate Finance Committee will be holding hearings next month into whether universities are abusing their tax-exempt status. Kimel urges minimum annual payouts from university endowments. Los Angeles Times 

Animal Rights Group Moves in Beside Primate Labs

A state judge has ruled that the Primate Freedom Project is the lawful purchaser of property between two primate-research labs affiliated with the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and the group plans to build a museum to protest animal research on the spot. The group will also invite speakers and artists to the museum and hold conferences there. The vendor of the property attempted to back out of the sale in order to accept a larger offer from the university. The lab director fears the museum will affect the morale of employees, and could attract activists nationally. Chronicle of Higher Education (requires subscription)

EPI Launches Database of Retention Best Practices

The Education Policy Institute announced Wednesday the Effective Practices in Student Success (EPSS) database, which will collect peer-reviewed information about programs and strategies to help students persist in PSE across the US, Canada, and internationally. EPSS will be managed through EPI's subsidiary, EPI information 

Fraser Institute Argues for Government Funding of Private Schools

A report issued this week by the Fraser Institute argues that equal funding for public and private schools in Sweden has improved educational opportunity and performance there, particularly for public school students with special needs. "Critics of educational choice claim that private schools only want the easiest and highest achieving students, but Swedish evidence indicates that private schools are most prevalent in areas where public school students do the worst." Fraser Institute media release