Top Ten

December 11, 2007

Canada's financial aid system can make PSE a risky bet

Despite $6 billion a year in provincial and federal student financial assistance programs, the average debt per borrowing student is $24,000, and there has been no substantial improvement in participation rates among low-income, Aboriginal, first-generation and rural students.  A Carleton University professor in public policy suggests that PSE be considered a "risky" investment that does not guarantee financial success, and recommends a system that has a generous loan-forgiveness policy for students who do not graduate. 

CASA releases recommendations and review of financial aid in Canada

The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations has released a new report, "Modernizing Canada's System of Student Financial Assistance."  The 73-page report considers programs available to students before, during and after PSE.  The paper also includes recommendations on how current programs should be revised, and which new programs are needed.  The recommendations include "increased emphasis on up-front targeted grants, rather than tax credits or savings programs used predominantly by higher-income families."  The paper also calls for a renewal of the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation, which faces expiry in 2009.

AUCC urges increase in grad enrolment, federal scholarships

According to Dalhousie president Tom Traves, chair of the AUCC, universities need to produce 35% more masters and doctoral students over the next 10 years to avoid a shortage of highly educated workers.  The AUCC is also asking the federal government for $319 million in new annual scholarship funding to lure more students from Canada and beyond.  Half of Canada's professors are destined for retirement in the next 10 years. 

University/College hybrids make the school choice easier

College/university hybrids such as Seneca@York and the University of Guelph-Humber made headlines this year.  Many of these programs graduate students with a university degree and a college diploma as well -- often within 4 years total.  The choice between an "accredited university education" and the practical, personal approach offered by many colleges is often difficult, and so hybrids are attracting students with their offer of both worlds for the price of one.  Guelph-Humber launched in 2002 and saw its first class of 4 year degree+diploma graduates hit the workforce in 2006.

Balsillie School of International Affairs launches website

Waterloo's Balsillie School of International Affairs is live and online with its new website.  The school also made itself known with a half-page ad in the Globe & Mail earlier this month, to be followed by similar ads in other Canadian and international publications over the coming weeks.  The school is currently hiring for several key positions.  The Balsillie School is a $100 million initiative (started with a $50 million gift from Blackberry entrepreneur Jim Balsillie) that brings together the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, and the Centre for International Governance Innovation.

Memorial Engineering receives $1 million private donation

Yesterday, Memorial University announced the largest single gift from living individuals in its history.  Drs. Angus and Jean Bruneau have donated $1,030,643 to create the Angus Bruneau Student Leadership and Innovation Fund in Engineering program.  The program will create "life-changing opportunities" for students in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science.  The Angus Bruneau Student Life program will recognize student leadership and innovation in Community Service, Engineering Education and Research.  Students can receive awards up to $10,000 each. 

COU report recommends public reporting of student cheaters

A new report recommends shaming cheaters and plagiarists to the maximum permitted by law.  The Council of Ontario Universities believes that not only should schools be tracking incidents to keep track of progress, but they should also be making incidents public.  Both the University of Ottawa and Carleton University plan on releasing their first annual figures on cheating shortly.  Ontario privacy law prevents cheaters from being publicly identified, but there are no laws regarding frequencies.  Only 9 of 20 universities in Ontario issue annual reports on cheating.

Queen's offers midnight brunch, massage to studying students

Queen's University has taken a page from the University of Kentucky with a new exam-period stress relief program.  Queen's offered its first "crunch brunch" last week -- with an attendance of 800 students.  The free evening program offered breakfast food, massages, music and t-shirts to attending students.  Queen's alumni even stopped by to offer tarot card readings and magic tricks.  Queen's students themselves chipped in with various performances.

US colleges commit to "climate neutral" standard

70 US college and university presidents gathered in Washington last week to sign a pledge to make their campuses "climate neutral" as soon as possible.  Climate neutral is defined as having "zero impact on the atmosphere."  An additional 448 names have signed the pledge, "representing every size of educational institution in the country."  Organizers of the movement feel that the challenge of climate change is so large that only a unified body of institutions will be able to take a bite, rather than individual efforts -- and also set an example for society in general.

US colleges offer co-ed room assignments

Boys and girls can finally get along after curfew, with many US universities lifting a ban on co-ed room assignments in student housing.  "A lot of students are over 18 and they have friends that are both guys and girls. It's just friends living together."  One residence director observes that when living off campus, many students live in co-ed arrangements.  Another reports that mixing genders can bring out the best of both: all-male facilities often suffer increased damages, vandalism and personal conflicts.