Top Ten

May 3, 2007

Auditor General gives top marks to CMSF:

Sheila Fraser's most recent report to parliament was tabled this week, including a thorough audit of the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation and the Canada Student Loan program. Fraser said, "I am pleased about the good management practices we found in these programs aimed at giving young Canadians better access to higher education." CMSF executive director Normal Riddell said, “we're satisfied with the results of this detailed audit, which, for the first time, provides a precise, rigorous and accurate review of our organization's contribution to government policy with respect to financial assistance for post-secondary students." CMSF news release

Fraser's report raises concerns about CSL collections:

The same report also expressed concerns, however, about the use of private collection agencies by the Canada Student Loan program, even though the performance of those agencies is closely monitored. More than 50% of defaulted student loans were outsourced to private agencies.  According to the report, neither of the monitoring bodies are performing adequately, and students are being subjected to potentially inappropriate collection techniques. Office of the Auditor General News Release | Maclean’s

announces PSE portal:

Yesterday, Maclean's magazine announced the launch of "the first website in Canada to offer continuously updated higher education news," aimed at prospective students and parents. In addition to daily news (yes, Maclean's editors subscribe to Academica's Top Ten too), the site features blogs and commentaries by student journalists and politicians, and of course the new personalized university rankings (see our April 16th edition). Some intriguing interactive features are promised soon, including "My Cafeteria," "My Residence," and "Campus Style," allowing students to post their own photos and commentary. Maclean's media release | Maclean's portal  

OCAD launches Digital Futures initiative:

The Digital Futures Initiative is a new cross-disciplinary program offered via the Ontario College of Art & Design, with a $2 million investment from the Government of Ontario and support from industry and education partners.  Students will train in digital media fields such as digital communication, digital painting, wearable technologies, animation, ambient experience design, and virtual proto-typing.  DFI will produce graduates to fuel Ontario’s need for creators and innovators across industries, from entertainment to health, and from tourism to communication. Some critics, including painter and printmaker David Blackwood, feel that OCAD's move towards technology is too heavily influenced by business needs, rather than the development of creative and innovative artists -- in part because of government policies.  OCAD News Release | The Globe & Mail

Part-time Ontario college employees complain of poor work conditions:

The Organization of Part-time and Sessional Employees of the Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology (OPSECAAT) has released a report entitled “Compromising Quality” that draws connections between the poor working conditions of its 17,000 members, and a decline in the quality of Ontario college education. Ontario’s part-time college workers, who currently outnumber full-time staff, are barred from unionizing. The report illustrates that failing part-time staff hurt not only these individuals and their dependents, but also college students.  OPSECAAT News Release

"Dual Credit" pilot program completes in Ontario:

High school students at 27 schools across Ontario are picking their major a little earlier than most.  The “specialist high skills major” allowed students to take up to 12 credit courses in a specialized area such as arts and culture, hospitality and tourism, or manufacturing and construction.  Students completed co-op placements in their discipline and earned “dual credits” that were acknowledged by both high schools and colleges.  The pilot program was introduced as a way of engaging students’ interest in their futures, hopefully improving secondary school completion rates.  The OSSTF has strenuously objected to the idea of high school credits being taught by uncertified college instructors, essentially "outsourcing" the jobs of high school teachers. The Toronto Star | OSSTF "McCredits to get McJobs" report (PDF)

Sault College hosts 200 high schoolers outdoors:

200 high school students from across Ontario have signed up for this weekend’s "Sault College Adventure Challenge" at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville.  65 teams (34 male, 11 female, and 20 co-ed) will participate in the race after a day of free workshops. Les Stroud, TV’s "Survivorman", is endorsing the race, and will be on hand to meet participants and speak at the awards dinner on Sunday. The 30-40 km race is expected to take the fastest students 3 hours. Sault College media release  |  Adventure Challenge website

Bow Valley launches new worker training program:

Bow Valley College has announced a new Workplace Training Services program, which aims to help Calgary businesses with recruitment, integration, retention and productivity of staff.  Customized strategies will be developed to integrate staff into the culture of businesses.  Skill gaps, ESL programs, and intercultural communication are pieced together to create a strong cohesive workforce.  Bow Valley News Release

Applicants undeterred by VT massacre:

US high school students are rallying behind Virginia Tech, motivated rather than daunted by last month’s mass shooting.  “It’s a little bit hard to explain.  I didn’t want to bail out on Tech...” says one senior student.  VT’s offers of admission were mailed out to students just a little over 2 weeks before "the VT Massacre".  According to a VT spokesperson, 5 parents have called in saying the shooting was the reason for their child’s decision to decline, but hundreds more have called to say that April 16 had nothing to do with their child’s decision.  Another student says, “I do feel in a way that my interest in the college has gone up... the amount of camaraderie and the amount of pride that all the Hokies hold is just unbelievable.” USA Today

Canadian education ministers in Europe:

Newfoundland & Labrador’s minister of education will lead a delegation of Canadian representatives to the 22nd Standing Conference of European Ministers of Education in Istanbul this week. She looks forward to bringing a Canadian perspective to the discussion, between delegations from the US, Israel and the 46 member European states. She feels that Canada has a great deal to share and gain from this important international forum, particularly towards preparing students for a global marketplace.  NFLD media release