Top Ten

March 8, 2007

Queen's pulls out of Darfur

Fund managers at Queen's University have received instructions to divest endowment funds in two Chinese companies currently operating in Sudan: PetroChina and China Petroleum.  Human rights advocates have strongly objected to both companies, claiming that revenue from their operations is provided to the Sudanese government, and then used to fund, equip, and support genocidal acts in Darfur.  Queen's University is the first in Canada to divest itself of investments in Sudan.  Harvard, Yale and Brown (among other US schools) have already taken similar action.  STAND Canada News Release | Canadian Press

Intellectual Authority in the Age of Wiki

Peter Nicholson, president and CEO of the Council of Canadian Academies, believes that "intellectual authority should have a close correlation with expertise" and is "comfortable with hierarchies based on merit," but discusses at length the paradigm shift of the Wiki age in this week's Chronicle of Higher Education. He observes a decline in deference to church, doctors, politicians, and intellectuals, and argues that it is "a nearly universal feature of advanced societies," which move up Maslow's hierarchy to seek self-esteem and personal fulfilment. Google and Wikipedia are often regarded as "good enough" tools to manage information overload, although the information they return may not be completely accurate.  Colleges must focus on teaching students the skills of discovery and discrimination.

AUCC responds to "The Great University Cheating Scandal"

We recently discussed a Maclean's article that reported more than half of Canadian students admitting to cheating, and almost half of professors not reporting cheaters when they are identified.  The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada has released a letter in response which says that the article is a misrepresentation of the uGuelph study it was based upon.  The study includes a note that its findings "should not be used to make definitive claims about the state of academic misconduct in Canada."  Only 1% of students admitted to handing in work from a paper "mill." 37% admitted to including a few sentences of material that were not properly footnoted.  The primary reason faculty gave for not pursuing charges against suspected cheaters was not "ineffective policing," as implied in Maclean's, but rather a lack of sufficient proof to pursue the situation.  The full letter from the AUCC to Maclean's is available online.  AUCC News Release 

Manitoba Leads Largest Polar Project

uManitoba will lead a team of 200 researchers from 14 different countries in one of the largest research projects conducted in the Arctic.  Researchers will spend a year studying northern ice and the impacts of climate change on the polar region.  Many Canadian universities will participate in the project and share in $150 million in federal funds announced for International Polar Year; uManitoba's project is to be the biggest in Canada and one of the largest in the world. Canadian Press

Memorial Alumni Association partners with Boston Pizza:
The Memorial University Alumni Association and Boston Pizza have partnered for a creative scholarship project.  Alumni or friends of Memorial can write "MUN Scholarships" on the back of their Boston Pizza receipts, and drop them in the box at the entrance to the restaurant.  A percentage of what was spent will be given directly to MUN students via scholarships and bursaries.  No menu items have increased in price, and only Boston Pizza locations in St. John's, Newfoundland are participating.  Memorial University News Release

40% of US Undergraduates Pursue Grad Studies:
A report from the National Center for Educational Statistics, part of the US Department of Education, discusses trends in graduate studies enrolment based on undergraduates who graduated in 1992/93.  40% of these students enrolled in a graduate program by 2003.  The highest level attained by 31% was a master's degree; 5% and 4% respectively earned first-professional degree programs and doctoral degree programs. Younger students were more likely to go on to grad school than older students, and most recipients waited between 2 and 3 years from receiving their bachelor's degree.  About half of the students who enrolled in grad studies did so on a full-time basis, and men enrolled in full-time more than women did.  Read the Report (PDF)

NSF Report on Science & Engineering Enrolment:
Starting in 2000, American women earned more Science and Engineering bachelor degrees than men, according to a report by the National Science Foundation.  Men have been earning more computer science bachelors and associate degrees than women, and this gap has been widening since 2004.  Women have historically been earning more psychology degrees than men, and this gap has continued to widen.  Graduate students with disabilities are shown to lean towards social/behavioural sciences and education studies.  Read the Full Report | The Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)

British Medical Applicants Plagiarize their Applications:
CFL Software Development, the company that makes Copycatch (a plagiarism-detection program), recently conducted a study that found copied material in the personal statements of many program applicants.  Out of 50,000 applications for Oxbridge, medicine, dentistry and veterinary science, 5% contained borrowed phrases.  Close to 800 took from just three example statements provided on a free website.  Applications with copied materials increased in frequency the closer the application deadline got.  BBC

Young People Want Relationships, Not Sex

Young North Americans are more concerned with finding a lifelong partner than having sex, according to a values survey by Youthography.  Males put slightly less personal importance on relationships, but the trend was still the same.  It is also notable that more youth wanted to find a "lifelong partner" than to "get married," particularly in Canada. 4 in 10 (39%) believed that the right to gay and lesbian marriage should be upheld.  Forward 3(1)

Why Generation Y doesn't Vote

UBC political scientists have released a study showing that young Canadians are voting less because of a decline in political competitiveness.  In the more competitive 2006 election, voter turnout increased.  The first few elections a young person encounters will shape their voting habits for a lifetime, and as a generation that grew up in a period of fairly dull campaigns, we now have a wave of Canadians that will have little interest in voting.  Voters that came of age in 2000 are about 40 points less likely than 50-year-olds to claim to have voted.  UBC Reports