Top Ten

December 8, 2007

"Price war" erupting at Atlantic universities

The Ottawa Citizen reports that many of Canada's Atlantic universities are "slashing prices" to attract students from Ontario. Newfoundland has cut tuition 23% since 2001, to an average of $2,633 -- second only to Quebec's $2,025 as the lowest in Canada. PEI cut tuition 9.8% this year, to $4,440. Nova Scotia, at $5,878, still has the country's highest tuition rates, but cut tuition 8.5% this year. Only New Brunswick, with Canada's second-highest tuition, has resisted the price war, instead increasing tuition by 4.8%, the steepest jump in the country.

Universities urged to develop more applied programs

Clive Keen, a retired administrator at UPEI, argues in a report to the Canadian Association of University Business Officers (CAUBO) that in the face of declining demographics across most of the country, universities need to appeal to aboriginal, low-income, and first-generation students. Most are young males who are "turned off" by traditional humanities and social sciences offerings, but will gravitate to employment-specific programs like computer games and animation, sports marketing, adventure recreation, disaster management and renewable energy. The opposing view, advocated by James Côté in Ivory Tower Blues, is for universities to stay focused on high-achieving academic students, and face potential downsizing.

NSAC to gain independence from NS Agriculture

The Nova Scotia Minister of Agriculture indicates that legislation to remove the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, in Truro, from the Department of Agriculture may be introduced as early as this session, after a decade of discussion. Since its founding in 1905, NSAC "has been handicapped" by "astronomical" paperwork, because unlike most colleges and universities, it is not standalone. Royal Military College in Kingston is the only other Canadian institution organized similarly.

Bow Valley College to lead Calgary area career education

According to Alberta's recent "Roles and Mandates" report, Bow Valley College will be the designated comprehensive community college for Calgary and region. BVC has had many successes, including its rural delivery program that allows students to "retain roots in their communities" via full and part-time programs, in class, online and blended learning. BVC, with 11,000 full- and part-time students, is currently engaged in a large-scale campus redevelopment and expansion project in downtown Calgary to double capacity.

New chair in sport technology at Camosun College

Camosun College's Pacific Sport Institute has a new Regional Innovation Chair in Sport Technology, thanks to a $1.25 million investment from the BC provincial government, and $1.25 million in matching funds. The chair will "provide resources in sport performance, technology, health and education," leading to developments in sport-based technology, such as performance-enhancing clothing, playing surfaces, judging technology and assistive devices.

Memorial unveils improved pharmacy lab, teaching facility

At the end of November, Memorial University's School of Pharmacy officially opened its Professional Practice Laboratory. The new facility marks "a new era for skills development in pharmacy education." The lab was originally built in 1991, but is now outfitted with new counselling rooms, audio-video recording equipment, and a redeveloped lab and teaching space. The half-million-dollar cost "was a worthwhile investment in the pharmacy profession."

uRegina students want a share of strike savings

uRegina students want a refund for services that were not received during a recent staff strike on campus. The university has offered students an extension of their recreation memberships into May and June, and $20,000 for the student union to fund recreation-related projects. Students are seeking a refund of some tuition as well as recreation fees, and argue that the university saved up to $75,000 per day in unpaid wages. The university administration denies that savings can be calculated so neatly. A third party has been called in to determine exactly how much money was saved.

Agora warns UK schools against rushing into China

British higher ed think-tank Agora has just released a public discussion paper, "British Universities in China: The Reality Beyond the Rhetoric," warning that UK colleges and universities face risks as well as benefits when expanding into the Chinese market. The paper includes a number of case studies and commentaries from a range of academics involved in international projects. Many perceive that China is seeking to absorb British talent and intellectual property. "It would be foolish not to see the emerging power of China as an opportunity -- but it is also a serious threat that must be stared squarely in the face." 

A banner year for US private career colleges

The Career College Association met in Washington last week to review what has been a "spectacular" year of financial returns, despite slowing enrolment growth. After several years of running flat, this year's numbers are showing an average stock price increase of 57% -- and for some like Capella University, a 180% increase. The commercial college market expects continued growth over the next 10 years, as US demographics continue to swell and private colleges gain increased access to federal student aid.

PSE marketers plan to spend more online

A survey of 100 non-profit PSE marketers conducted at the AMA conference in San Diego found that institutions are not "doing enough" online. 42% of schools surveyed attributed the majority of qualified leads to online campaigns, but only 35% spend more than one-fifth of their marketing budget online. Half intend to spend more online in 2008, and none say they will spend less. 81% said social networks "would be helpful for enrolment," and 76% said social networks would help with retention.