Top Ten

December 4, 2007

Calgary schools revise, cancel, defer construction due to skyrocketing costs

Both uCalgary and SAIT must "scale back" major construction projects because of inflated costs and a trades shortage in Alberta.  uCalgary has changed the plans for its Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy project (originally priced at $283 million, now estimated to cost more than $400 million), and has delayed the building of its digital library.  An engineering expert has been hired to review all the projects in uCalgary's $1.5 billion expansion.  At SAIT, the Trades and Technology complex was reduced in size by half to stay within budget. 

No affirmative action for boys at Canadian universities

To combat the growing gender gap, US colleges are using affirmative action policies to attract and enroll more male applicants.  Canadian schools seem unlikely to take a similar path.  Memorial University and UBC specifically state they will "take no extra steps" for male applicants, although uOttawa admits to "message tweaking" to appeal to males. UBC says affirmative action would only be suitable if male students were facing a systemic barrier to education.  Statistics Canada has recommended targeting male students to stave off a future decline in applicants. 

UCFV receives funding for 2 new aboriginal programs

BC has funded 2 new aboriginal initiatives at the University College of the Fraser Valley.  A transition-year program for aboriginal students will be launched to help smooth the transition to PSE.  A Bachelor of Education program with an aboriginal focus hopes to increase the number of aboriginal teachers in the province's school system.  The programs were developed in direct partnership with the institution's aboriginal community council and in response to community needs as identified by the council. 

Graduation rate triples for NS students with disabilities

According to a study by the Nova Scotia Department of Education, 87% of PSE students with disabilities who looked for employment were successful within 14 months of graduating.  Almost 75% found work related to their field of study, and salaries earned were comparable to the general population.  The 5-year study examines graduation rate, employment, and qualify of life of students with disabilities.  261 students were surveyed in Year 1.  The study also found that 46.7% of respondents who were not employed had returned to school.  There has been a 45.5% increase in the number of graduating students with disabilities over the last 3 years.

Toronto Private college closes, leaves students out in the cold

The York College of Industry and Technology, a private career college in Toronto, has closed abruptly, leaving many students without a way to finish their degrees or obtain a transcript.  Students taking an online Immigration Consultants program have learned that it was not accredited by the government, despite the fact that it was recommended by a government-affiliated association, and that therefore the provincial bond will not reimburse them.  Only 15 of 78 students who enrolled in the program have received diplomas. 

PEI to launch medical residency program with Dalhousie

The province of Prince Edward Island has entered into an agreement with Dalhousie University's Faculty of Medicine to develop a Family Medicine Residency Program in PEI.  "This is a significant milestone for PEI medical students and for all Islanders."  Med students who train in PEI will become familiar with a style of medical practice specific to the province, and are also more likely to remain in PEI to practise.  The program will be based at the Queen Elizabeth hospital.

Saskatchewan universities reach agreement with union

Union workers at the Universities of Regina and Saskatchewan were back at work yesterday, with a tentative agreement between CUPE 1975 and the Universities.  Health and fitness facilities have been closed for as long as five weeks because of the support staff strike. 

NS professor, family victimized on YouTube

A Dalhousie University professor and his family were the victims of a YouTube hoax: a video was uploaded to the popular video-sharing website, depicting the professor as a pimp and including photos of the family.  It also included text that "poked fun" at the teacher's religion and ethnic background.  YouTube has removed the video and Halifax police are investigating.  Dal's president sent an email to students expressing his "personal disgust for this anonymous and hateful attack," and indicating that it would be treated as a "vicious assault" rather than a prank.

uWaterloo students offer free hugs to help with exam stress

Students tend to become more introverted during exam periods: "They're more sad-looking.  Everyone is stuck in their own heads."  Many schools offer counselling and health services to help combat stress, but a group of students at uWaterloo has a new idea for picking up the spirits of their peers.  Student volunteers strapped on neon signs advertising "Free Hugs," offering students no-strings-attached moments of connection.  The "huggers" will also be distributing bags filled with tips on studying, stress management and nutrition, as well as pens and pencils, earplugs, candy, and a Do Not Disturb sign. 

Chimps outperform university students when it comes to numbers & memory

In a recent study, chimpanzees outperformed university students in a test of short-term memory.  Young chimpanzees were shown to have extraordinary working memory for "numerical recollection" -- better than the memory of human adults.  When numbers were displayed for 7 tenths of a second, a young chimpanzee was able to recall the numbers with an 80% success rate, while students had only 40% success.