Top Ten

January 3, 2008

Pre-emptive lockout continues at STU

On December 28, Fredericton's St. Thomas University became the first Canadian institution to pre-emptively lock out its academic staff before a strike.  STU administration moved prior to a strike vote expected only days after students returned to campus this month.  STU's winter term had already been delayed to allow more time for negotiations, which STU says the union rejected. The lockout continues. Students are already talking about compensation for lost class time.

Rejected transfer student sues uToronto for $5 million

A former uWaterloo student is suing the University of Toronto at Mississauga after he was given a spot in residence but not accepted into fourth year studies at the school.  Adam Rogers claims that UTM led him to believe he would be accepted, causing him to lose his full-time student status and essential student loans.  Rogers moved his family into UTM residence, despite receiving a rejection to his transfer request, and to two appeals.  His family was served an eviction notice in October. The UT Students' Union supports Rogers' case.

Alberta's universities aim for world class status, backed by oil

Alberta's oil wealth is benefiting universities with billions in research funding, an all-out campus construction boom and salary levels that are luring high-profile academics and administrators away from other provinces and even the US ivy league.  uAlberta plans to be in the world's top 20 institutions by 2020.  There are currently $1.6 billion in capital projects underway on Alberta campuses, with billions more set aside for research.  uCalgary also has world-class aspirations, and plans to achieve its goal by focusing on four niche specialties. 

Alberta students say service is "not what it used to be"

Student leaders on Alberta campuses say that student services, residences and undergraduate instruction are falling to the wayside, in order to pump money into research and construction projects.  "The quality of student experience has suffered. Things are not as good as they used to be."  uCalgary's student council president reports that the humanities and social sciences are suffering due to a heavy emphasis on medicine, science and engineering.

$8 million for international development projects

The Canadian government has announced $8 million in funding to support 8 international development projects by Canadian universities.  Schools will be working in Mali, Madagascar, Tanzania, Bangladesh, China, Bolivia and Mozambique, among other countries, to eradicate poverty and disease.  Universities that received funding include uLaval, uMontréal, Huron University College, uManitoba (2 projects), uCalgary, Simon Fraser University, and uVictoria.

The race to place Fortune 500 CEOs

Concordia and Queen's University tied for first place in Canada in a ranking of universities by the École des Mines de Paris.  The ranking compares the number of graduates holding CEO positions in Fortune 500 companies.  uToronto and uManitoba tied for second place in Canada, followed by uSherbrooke, UWO, UBC, uOttawa, McGill, Carleton, and uWindsor. Harvard University ranked first in the world, followed by Tokyo and Stanford.

"Carefully orchestrated infatuation" with Islamic studies criticized

A visiting professor at Oxford, and one of Europe's leading intellectuals on Islam, calls for "sweeping changes" to how Islamic studies are taught in the West, in an article in the December issue of OCUFA's Academic Matters.  He says increased scholarly attention to Islam is driven by fear and associations with terrorism, rather than genuine theological interest, and that what is needed is an objective approach to Islamic theology, history, and law.

Mount Allison launches new recruitment portal

Late in December, Mount Allison University launched its new student recruitment portal:  The site includes a direct link to apply, as well as sections such as "Why MTA," "Academics," "Money Matters," and "Who Are You?"  The site refers to the school's strong results in Maclean's, the Globe & Mail Report Card, and the National Survey of Student Engagement, and asks "Why NOT Mount A?"  Photos of students in candid poses at the library, at sports events, talking to instructors and celebrating are tiled across the main page.

Free classes a way to reach low-income adults

Across North America, universities are launching programs that invite low-income learners to explore the humanities for free, and "hone the skills of abstract thinking." uToronto's Trinity College invited 25 low-income adults to its campus this past fall for an outreach program of this type, called "Humanities for Humanity." No previous academic experience or credentials were required from participants.  The classes were preceded by a hot meal, and followed by an hour of discussion. 

UBC prof combats theatrical brain drain in Vancouver

A UBC theatre-design professor is suggesting that a campus jointly owned by four institutions be transformed into a "grand permanent production and rehearsal facility for the community," in response to what he sees as a theatrical brain drain in the area.  The proposed facility would be unique in Canada.  By creating an "arts incubator," more creative minds could be kept in the area, and help establish Vancouver as a "world leader in the arts."