Top Ten

March 30, 2008

Saskatchewan budget fails to address student housing shortage

Saskatchewan's 2008 provincial budget -- the first non-NDP budget in 15 years -- allocated $25.5 million to a fourth year of tuition freezes, and a 7-year $20,000 tuition rebate for grads who stay in the province. But the budget is being criticized by poverty advocates and student groups for failing to address a crisis in affordable housing.  A series of protests have seen some student leaders sleeping outside eight times in the past year. The Regina Leader Post | The Carillon (uRegina student newspaper - CUP subscription required)

Ontario college student class action lawsuit derailed

Last June, students launched a $200-million class-action lawsuit against Ontario colleges to reclaim hikes in ancillary fees, contrary to a tuition freeze established by the province. The suit was quickly supported by OPSEU and the CFS, and the province vowed to "crack down" on illegal fees, but a month later the Colleges appeared unwilling to reduce the fees. Last Friday, the Ontario Superior Court refused to certify the class action lawsuit, arguing that "any contractual or regulatory issues were between the colleges and the provincial government," and the students were merely interested third parties -- and that the issue was a matter of policy, not law. The students plan to begin a political pressure campaign to get the minister to "enforce his own directives."  CBC | The Toronto Star

Ontario premier asks universities to forgo lavish thank-yous

Earlier this month, the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations criticized Ryerson University and the University of Toronto for ad spends of up to $80,000 that served no purpose other than thanking the provincial government for funding.  (The story received national coverage in the Toronto Star, Maclean's and the Toronto Sun.) Apparently Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty has asked the Council of Ontario Universities to "refrain from such ads in the future."  Ontario University Report (OCUFA)

BC faculty associations alarmed by pending college layoffs

The BC Federation of Post-Secondary Educators is sounding the alarm about layoffs and looming program cuts at several colleges in British Columbia, largely fuelled by declining enrolments because of a booming economy.  As we mentioned last week, BC colleges and universities are facing an average budget cut of 2.6%.  Vancouver Community College faces a $5.8 million shortfall next year, despite "doubled" tuition in recent years, and therefore plans to eliminate 36 instructor positions and 1,000 student spots.  Malaspina University-College also reports that "significant layoffs are inevitable," and the University College of the Fraser Valley faces a $1.8 million shortfall and is considering cancelling new programs or deferring planned hires.  The Province | Malaspina Faculty News Release | BC Local News

Capital gains changes bring $12 million to uCalgary

In May 2006, the federal government eliminated capital gains tax on "in-kind" donations of securities to registered charities, while providing a tax receipt equal to their fair market value. In the two years since, the University of Calgary has seen a "dramatic" rise in donations of stock -- gifts of this type doubled in 2006 and 2007 from 2004 and 2005, bringing upwards of $12 million in donations to the university.  uCalgary News Release

UOIT engineering students benefit from major in-kind donation

The General Motors of Canada Automotive Centre of Excellence at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, announced in February, has received a multi-million-dollar in-kind donation from Partners for the Advancement of Collaborative Engineering Education (PACE), a partnership including GM, HP, Siemens and Sun Microsystems.  The in-kind donation includes millions of dollars of state-of-the-art computer-based hardware, engineering software and student and instructor training and support.  UOIT is the sixth PACE Canadian university.  UOIT News Release

Red Deer College launches alumni portal

Last week, Alberta's Red Deer College launched a new online alumni portal, RDC NetCommunity. "NetCommunity will put people in touch, and facilitate relationships between our alumni."  The secure portal allows alumni to make personal and business connections in a social networking environment.  Alumni are given a forwarding email address, which will allow them to receive messages without revealing their personal contact information.  RDC also plans to issue e-zines and event notices to the community.  RDC News Release | RDC NetCommunity

US News ranks "America's Best Graduate Schools"

Last Friday, US News & World Report released its 2009 Rankings of America's Best Graduate Schools.  Harvard and Stanford tied for #1 in the business category.  Yale took first place among law schools.  Harvard took another first place in the medicine category.  MIT ranked first in engineering.  The Rhode Island School of Design took #1 in fine arts. US News Grad Rankings  |  The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)

Student perceptions of "best fit college" don't equal retention

A recent study of 125,000 US college students has found that "high school students' judgements about what colleges are right for them" have little bearing on PSE retention or success. Students at their preferred college are no more likely to graduate than those who preferred other institutions. The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)

Students may prefer intensive course models

"Intensive" or compressed courses, with more hours per week over a shorter timeframe, are a key advantage of many for-profit and online educational institutions. Previous studies have found that student learning outcomes are comparable -- now a recent study at the University of Texas at Austin found that students "give significantly better ratings of course effectiveness" to compressed courses. Intensive courses may be more popular with students, perhaps because they create a more intensive level of engagement with classmates and professors. More research is requiredInside Higher Ed