Top Ten

October 30, 2007

Canadian university endowments surpass $10 billion

The latest statistics from CAUBO (the Canadian Association of University Business Officers) reveal that Canadian university endowment funds have hit an all-time high, exceeding $10 billion for the 69 universities tracked -- 55% more than their value in 2002.  (By comparison, the endowment of Harvard University alone surpasses $35 billion US.)  Canada's 8 richest schools account for $5 billion, or half of the total amount.  Standard & Poor's reports that the highest per-capita endowments are at Queen's, McGill, uToronto, UBC, and McMaster, followed at a distance by UWO, uGuelph and York. 

$10 million gift for McMaster liberal arts

Chancellor Lynton Wilson has announced a $10 million gift to liberal arts at McMaster University.  Students, faculty, staff and guests stood in a standing ovation when the gift was announced.  The money will fund a plan to redefine liberal arts with initiatives such as the Centre for Global Citizenship Experiences, the Wilson Centre for Canadian History, Collaborations for Health and the McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind.  A new signature building will be named for Chancellor Wilson. 

$85 million NOT to have a business school named after you

Alumni at the University of Wisconsin have given $85 million to its School of Business so that it will remain nameless for the next 20 years.  After 20 years, the school can once again consider renaming for a single donor, but the alumni will give advice on potential names.  The school took out a full page in the Wall Street Journal to announce that their alumni "joined together to make a naming gift like no other!"

International students "victimized" by Acadia strike

International students at Acadia University, who pay double the domestic tuition rate, are having a particularly hard time explaining the two-week-old faculty strike to their families back home. One student is culture shocked by something he would never see at home in South Korea, where universities ensure that strikes do not occur.  Unlike their Canadian peers, international students cannot fly home to wait out the strike.  This is the second time Acadia's faculty has gone on strike in the last 4 years.

Canada struggles to keep international graduates north of the border

A report from the Canadian Bureau for International Education suggests that Canada create a national strategy on international students and look to other countries for best practices.  An after-graduation job program was put into place by the government two years ago, but seems to be driving students to the US rather than keeping them in Canada.  A survey of 900 foreign students in Canada found that only a third were planning to stay in the country after graduating. 

uManitoba opens one-of-a-kind Oral Culture Centre

The University of Manitoba plans to open the first Creative Writing and Oral Culture Centre in Canada.  The Centre will be home to those who wish to study the relationships between oral and written culture, and give voice to cultures where the spoken word is dominant.  Manitoba has a rich history of story-telling, through its First Nations, Métis and immigrant communities.

Students learn that drinking and school do not go hand in hand

Many students head off to university thinking that alcohol will be an essential part of social success on campus.  With several schools offering completely dry orientation weeks, students are relieved to find that drinking is no longer a required part of student life.  Wilfrid Laurier University is asking students to "Flip the notion, Know the norm," and help dispel the misrepresentation of alcohol's importance on campus.

Canada's young adults suffer from "financial illiteracy"

Yet another study on debt is causing concern.  Canadians are charged with having "heedless spending habits," leading to 55% claiming expenses that exceed their income at least one month per year.  Young adults are found to be the most "vulnerable" to debt, because of "a toxic combination of easy credit and growing financial illiteracy."  More and more students are graduating from PSE with student loans and heavy credit card debt.  Some point their fingers at the government and high tuition, while others say students should be more aware of the costs of PSE before pursuing a degree or diploma.

Are schools responsible for lifelong student debt?

Financial counseling has always been seen as a student service rather than an institutional responsibility, but with average student debt climbing higher and higher, it might be time to change perspectives.  The goal of financial aid is typically to see a student through to graduation, with no consideration to what students deal with after completing their programs (such as decades of loan payments and exhausted credit). Some American lenders charge interest up to 20%. Schools like Brigham Young University increasingly regard it as an institutional responsibility to make them more educated borrowers.

Schools prefer open source over proprietary CMS

A study by the UC Davis Web CMS initiative found that 60% of responding institutions are currently using a Web CMS.  Schools were more likely to report using an open source or custom-developed solution, rather than a proprietary or commercial system.  While there was no dominant leader, Plone and Drupal solutions are in heavy use.