Top Ten

March 26, 2008

Billions for PSE in Ontario budget

Yesterday's Ontario provincial budget included an additional $200 million for university facilities renewal, $200 million for an "Ontario Research Fund" to help universities recruit and retain top researchers worldwide, a $355-million "Second Career Strategy," and $465 million for programs to improve student access to PSE. For Ontario's colleges, the budget also included 3-year funding of $75 million to expand apprenticeships, $45 million for apprenticeship equipment, and $60 million for equipment renewal. Several major projects were also singled out: $25 million to create a new Munk School of International Studies at uToronto, $25 million for a new centre for research and innovation in the bioeconomy in Thunder Bay, and $56 million for the Ontario Veterinary College at uGuelph. Ontario Budget | Ontario education media releaseGlobe & Mail | uToronto | COU | Colleges Ontario

Postscript: April 14 2008:

A flurry of news releases last Friday summarized exactly where Ontario's $200 million promised for campus renewal will be going.  The largest allotments went to the University of Toronto ($37 million), the University of Western Ontario ($19 million) and York University ($18 million). Ontario News Release | UWO News Release

Of course, it's never enough

The Canadian Federation of Students calls yesterday's Ontario budget "impoverished" because instead of reducing tuition or student loan interest rates, it included a $150 annual textbook voucher. The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance expressed "guarded optimism" about the textbook, technology and travel grants, but was disappointed the government failed to follow through on its commitment to convert tuition and education tax credits into up-front grants. And the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations feels the budget spends too much on bricks and mortar without addressing the "quality crisis," which demands the hiring of about 5,500 tenure-stream faculty at Ontario universities. CFS | OUSAOCUFA

uManitoba announces $100-million campus redevelopment

Last Thursday, the University of Manitoba announced an ambitious $100-million redevelopment project, "Project Domino."  The project will retrofit the campus' older buildings, and build a new 350-bed residence building.  "We have enormous space in old buildings on campus, and we want to provide students with the facilities that the new world requires."  At least 13 faculties and departments will be affected.  uManitoba News Release

CMSF announces $120 million in student bursaries

The Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation has announced the distribution of 35,000 bursaries valued at a total of $120 million.  The Foundation is the "largest distributor of non-repayable need-based aid in the country," though it will soon be replaced by new initiatives when its mandate ends in 2009.  Quebec students received just under $93 million of the awards announced, representing approximately 77%.  $160 million in bursaries was also announced this past November.  CMSF News Release 

NSCC president proposes tuition-free Nova Scotia

With 89% of Nova Scotia's jobs requiring post-secondary education, should tuition be free?  The president of the Nova Scotia Community College raised the idea of abolishing tuition fees in the province in a legislature standing committee meeting last week, acknowledging that it was a radical idea that would be a burden borne by taxpayers.  The Health Minister, also on the committee, feels that the proposal is not "realistic" at this time. Earlier this month, the opposition called for free health education in NS, and last month a PEI senator proposed an end to tuition in that province.  The Chronicle Herald

University ads "tokenize" minority students

Two profs at uAlabama are presenting a paper at a New York conference this week based on a review of 43 college TV spots aired during the 2006-07 Bowl Championship Series. They found that the ads portray campuses as "overwhelmingly white, privileged environments."  Minority students were generally depicted as "token members of larger groups," communicating "to any would-be students of colour that their experiences will be marked by tokenism ... doing untold damage to the public missions of these institutions to increase access and attainment among all populations."  Alumni were also shown as "white and wealthy," an attempt to show success and tradition.  Chronicle of Higher Education

Chronicle profiles 4 college TV spots

It's interesting to see what a handful of US colleges are doing with 30-second TV spots to look professional on a range of budgets. North Carolina's Davidson College has a very traditional spot voiced by its own drama students, emphasizing "opportunity, excellence, and honor." Drake University has a funky "think blue" spot with the design aesthetic of earlier iPod advertising, and no photography or voiceover at all. The University of Maryland - Baltimore spent $85,000 on a professional agency to produce a fast-paced, intriguing spot for their "Learn More" campaign. And St. Mary's College of California spent $30,000 to create a dynamic spot emphasizing its study-abroad programs in Europe, set atop distinctive music. Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)

Mental illness increasing on Canadian campuses

While mental health disabilities are not the most common on campus, they are reported as the "fastest growing" at most post-secondary institutions. Representatives of mental health services at both Simon Fraser University and Queen's University report that the increases in mental-health issues on campus is consistent. Queen's reports that the number of patients has tripled over the last 10 years, and that "the system is so strained, students can wait two or three months to see a psychiatrist after an initial screening." CanWest News | University Affairs

Students turn to online data sites to evaluate schools

The new campus tour is online, and rather than a virtual slideshow of campus, students are touring third-party websites that offer supposedly impartial test scores, demographics, retention rates and more. Students are using these sites to pull together their own rankings of schools, fueling their school decision with research and data. Most of these sites are free: check out U-CAN, College Portrait, and College Navigator for an example. There is also a world of social network tools that pull admission averages and other data to calculate rankings and admissions potential. University Business

Families of Virgina Tech victims offered $100,000 settlement

The families of 32 individuals killed during the 2007 campus shootings at Virgina Tech have been offered $100,000 each by the state as a settlement.  The settlement also includes a chance to question the governor and university officials regarding the shooting, as well as medical and counselling expenses.  Family members would be asked to give up their right to sue state government and the school.  A decision is required by March 31.  The Toronto Star