Top Ten

August 8, 2008

FNUC VP challenges reported enrolment drop

First Nations University of Canada's vice-president of finance and administration says recent Saskatchewan government figures indicating plummeting enrolment at FNUC are "totally outrageous." The official says FNUC and the University of Regina, with which it is affiliated, did not confirm a reported decline of over 1,650 students between 2004 and 2007. "Those are not our statistics and we totally disagree with them." The vice-president said FNUC has experienced a 7% decline, which he attributes to the popularity of trades programs in Saskatchewan. Saskatoon Star-Phoenix

Governments must recognize university autonomy

While there are a number of university accountability measures in place at provincial and federal levels, governments must recognize that universities' autonomy is essential to their ability to ensure high quality education and research, observes AUCC president Claire Morris in last Friday's Globe and Mail. Despite good intentions, government intervention in university governance and administration may risk institutions' purpose in society, such as the case in Newfoundland and Labrador's reported involvement in Memorial University's presidential search. Schools must be able to carry out their research and educational goals without threats to their autonomy. Globe and Mail

uToronto top Canadian university in global ranking

The University of Toronto has been named the top Canadian university, according to Shanghai Jiao Tong University's 2008 Academic Ranking of World Universities. UBC, McGill and McMaster round out the top 4 Canadian schools, and they each made the top 100 worldwide. uAlberta and uMontreal are among the top 100 North and Latin American universities. In total, 21 Canadian universities are listed in the top 500 world universities. Harvard placed first in all geographical categories. 2008 Academic Ranking of World Universities

High fuel prices may put polar, marine science on ice

Polar and marine scientists may not be able to carry out their research next season -- the third International Polar Year -- due to rising fuel costs. International partners may pull out of a project to survey an unexplored Antarctic mountain region if the US team cannot make its fuel provision commitment. The US-based National Science Foundation predicts a 25% drop in the number of Arctic research projects it can finance next year. To keep research afloat, marine scientists are improving vessels' fuel efficiency, or reducing the number of ships out on a daily basis. The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)

What's in store for UBC-Okanagan's 4th year

The University of British Columbia's Okanagan campus will celebrate its fourth year in operation this September with a brand-new facility, new programs and an online TV service. The $32-million Fipke Centre for Innovation Research will open this fall, adding 70,000 square feet of office, teaching, and laboratory space. The campus is introducing 3 new degree programs, including Canada's first-ever BFA in Interdisciplinary Performance. Okanagan has launched a web-based TV service called UBCO.TV, with channels covering construction updates, campus tours, and academics. UBC Reports | UBCO.TV

NSCC pool, rec centre to undergo upgrades

Nearly $500,000 has been committed to swimming pool and recreation centre upgrades at the Dartmouth YMCA Centre at Nova Scotia Community College's Akerley campus. NSCC's president says the college is "delighted" to work with the YMCA and the provincial government on the project, noting the centre serves not only students and staff, but also surrounding communities. Last month, Wilfrid Laurier University announced it will close its Olympic-length pool unless it secures adequate funding, and the University of Waterloo is rumoured to have plans to expand its pool. NS News Release | Halifax Chronicle-Herald

University president blogs offer glimpse into job

Presidents are rare in the Canadian university community blogosphere. Those who do blog are often in it to remove the mystery surrounding the position of president, explain their mandate, and encourage dialogue. University of Guelph president Alastair Summerlee was motivated to start a blog because people were interested in what he was thinking, but his decision was met with unease from UoGuelph legal counsel and central communications, which may have had more to do with the scripted nature of university president communication. University Affairs | UoGuelph President Blog | TWU President Blog | uCalgary President Blog

PSE access much more than student financing

The supposition that high tuition fees create a barrier to PSE access is misguided, says Educational Policy Institute's Alex Usher. Participation rates among low- or zero-tuition countries are often equal or lower than those of nations with higher tuition. There's no evidence to suggest countries offering lower or no tuition are more accessible to low-income students, when student aid programs work. Politicians are aware of the success of financial aid programs, Usher says, but implement tuition freezes anyways because voters demand them. Improving PSE access entails raising aspirations and educational performance. EPI Week in Review

Major school failure tough on girls

A recent University of Washington study found girls who exhibit early conduct problems or experience serious school failure, such as expulsion, by grade 12 are at higher risk for depression by the age of 21. The study found greater instances of major school failures among boys studied, but the depression rate among girls was 5% greater than that for boys. The study's author says while school failure is atypical for girls, it results in greater consequences when it does happen. UW News | Reuters

Trend in US PSEs banning drinking games

The University of Florida is joining a host of American universities in developing policy prohibiting excessive alcohol consumption, both on- and off-campus. The proposed regulations specifically ban keg standing and drinking games, such as beer pong. The Universities of Pennsylvania and Massachusetts at Amherst, Yale, and Tufts University all forbid drinking games. Last year, Georgetown University banned any alcohol-related paraphernalia from its residences. Several town councils have also introduced policies banning outdoor beer pong. Inside Higher Ed | Time Magazine