Top Ten

September 2, 2008

Ontario College strike averted at eleventh hour

Late Sunday, a potential strike of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), representing about 6,500 support staff workers at all 24 Ontario colleges, was averted when a tentative agreement was reached. The current collective agreement expired August 31st, and support staff were prepared for a possible strike over the weekend. Details of the tentative agreement were not released, but last week workers were offered increases of 3% in each of the next 3 years. The London Free Press | The Whig | The Welland Tribune | Globe & Mail

$200 million for social sciences and humanities research

Last Thursday, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council announced a $202.2-million investment in scholarships, fellowships and grants for graduate students and university-based researchers. 2,405 graduate students will receive $98 million over 3 years in scholarships and fellowships. $77 million will support 904 researchers through SSHRC's Standard Research Grants program. Over the next 7 years, $28 million will be allocated to management, business and finance research. A list of recipients appears on SSHRC's website. SSHRC News Release

$11 million expansion for Humber College

Humber College will be expanding its North Campus in Toronto, with the help of $7 million in provincial funding announced last week. Humber will be purchasing and renovating a building to house the new Humber Applied Skills Training Centre, which will educate approximately 1,400 new students in skilled construction trades, which are currently in high demand. The total cost for the project is estimated at $11 million, and it is expected to be complete by Fall 2009.  Humber College | Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities | The Globe and Mail

$155 million for maintenance at Alberta schools

Last Friday, the Alberta government announced it will spend $155 million on maintenance of the province's public post-secondary institutions. $82.5 million of the investment will be distributed over 2 years for 26 maintenance and renewal projects at 12 schools, while the remainder will be allocated to all 21 institutions this fiscal year for annual maintenance and renewal needs. Alberta News Release | CBC

Boost in out-of-province, international enrolment at UBC

Enrolment of students coming from outside BC and Canada is on the rise at the University of British Columbia. This fall, UBC's Vancouver campus will welcome 50% more students from Ontario, 36% more from Alberta, and 48% more from other provinces. Enrolment of first-year international students at the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses is up 19% and 27%, respectively, from last year. The growth of out-of-province students is offsetting the decline of BC students coming through Grade 12. UBC News Release

Tuition increased for foreign students at Concordia

On Friday, Concordia University's board of governors approved a 10% tuition increase for foreign students, despite numerous protests in recent weeks. The decision was temporarily delayed last week after the student union accused the university of bypassing procedure in a closed session. The decision will raise fees for foreign students by as much as $1,000. Full-time foreign students currently pay around $10,000 per year for tuition at Concordia, compared with $1,668 for Quebec residents. The Montreal Gazette

uVic attracts more direct-from-high-school students

The University of Victoria is experiencing a growth in the number of students enrolling directly from high school, with 21% more of these students registering compared to this time last year. The boost in direct-from-high school students is being attributed to an increase in scholarship opportunities and more courses being offered at the Gordon Head campus. Overall enrolment at uVic is expected to hold steady at over 19,000. Victoria Times-Colonist

UBC graduate student union recalls satirical handbook

The University of British Columbia's Graduate Student Society has decided not to distribute copies of the graduate student handbook after deeming its contents to be inappropriate. The handbook includes barbs about construction on campus, calling UBC a hot spot for "crane tourism." The handbook also denounces funding inequities between arts and science faculties, and residential developments on university lands. Graduate students will be given international-student handbooks instead. Globe and Mail | Vancouver Province

BC campuses will be monitored for mumps

Academica's Top Ten has reported on mumps outbreaks on campuses across the country in the past year. Students returning to school this fall have a "slightly increased risk" of contracting mumps due to vaccination trends, close quarters in residence, and the prevalance of "spit-sharing activities." BC health authorities will be vigilant for signs of an outbreak, and are prepared to respond. There was a mumps outbreak this past February in the Chilliwack region, while the coastal region has had no major outbreak within the past 10 years. Outbreaks are often driven by people who have not been vaccinated. Vancouver Sun

uOttawa withdraws non-academic code of conduct

The University of Ottawa has withdrawn its proposed non-academic code of conduct, which drew criticism from students, who argued it dismissed their rights. An informal committee comprising student representatives and senior administration will continue to discuss issues such as the rights and responsibilities of the university community. Student representatives are so far advocating for a new student bill of rights and an ombudsperson. Ottawa Citizen

Backbone Magazine PICKs Canada's Web 2.0 pioneers

Last week, Backbone magazine unveiled their PICK 20 winners, a listing of the top 20 Web 2.0 players in Canada. The companies are leading the way in web integration and revolutionizing e-communications. The winners were organized into 4 categories: Problem solving, Innovation, Collaboration, and Knowledge sharing and management. Winners include kids' social network, crowdsourcing community, uWaterloo spin-off company, and crowdsourced media outlet Backbone Magazine

College president loses job over racy photo

Photo from Des Moines Register

Robert A Paxton, president of the Iowa Community College, resigned this week after an eyebrow-raising picture of him appeared in The Des Moines Register. The photo appears to show him pouring a keg of beer into the mouth of a bikini-clad young woman on his boat. (He says the spigot was not functional.) Two years ago, Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania, came under fire for being photographed at a Hallowe'en party beside a student dressed as a suicide bomber. Presidents must always be on guard in public -- and in private as well -- as one ill-timed photo can ruin an entire career. The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)

Canadian universities adapt to diverse student population

A number of Canadian universities are adapting to a more diverse student body through new facilities and services. The University of Victoria will include gender-neutral washrooms in all its new buildings -- an initiative already undertaken by McGill and Simon Fraser Universities. Last year, the University of Toronto opened its Multifaith Centre, whose roster of over 20 chaplains includes pagans, Hindus and Buddhists. The University of Calgary will launch an "equity audit" this fall to find how it can better serve the needs of under-supported groups on campus. CanWest News Service | uToronto Multifaith Centre

mtvU launches campus guide network

Viacom's mtvU college cable network is launching an online network of campus guides across the US. mtvU has created websites that offer listings for many student-related topics, from local night life to bus schedules to campus dining rooms. mtvU is a division of MTV that broadcasts on 750 college campuses in the US. They will launch 25 campus guides today at schools including Northwestern University and University of Pennsylvania. By the end of the year, they expect to launch 50 daily guides, and are in discussions to potentially launch print versions of the guides. Reuters 

Court ruling could affect Oshawa students in housing search

Hundreds of Oshawa students may face difficulty in securing housing after the Ontario Superior Court ruled last week that 28 homes are being operated as commercial lodging houses in a neighbourhood designated for single-family use. It's possible another 40 landlords are running illegal operations. Last year, the City of Oshawa and Tribute Communities, who built the houses, filed a lawsuit alleging landlords were illegally converting the homes into student housing. The lawsuit also alleges student tenants made life intolerable for neighbours with loud parties and drunken behaviour. Earlier this year, the city passed a bylaw regulating student housing. Toronto Star

Confronting campus shooters

Hundreds of US colleges are signing up for training programs that teach students and teachers to fight back against school shooters. The program urges them to take advantage of strength in numbers, to use any improvised weapons possible, including backpacks and laptops, and discourages cowering in a corner or huddling in fear. The training drills participants in a "survival mindset", and is provided by the Center for Personal Protection and Safety. While the programs are controversial, the decision to allow high school teachers in Harrold, Texas to carry concealed firearms has provoked even more national discussion. Associated Press | The New York Times

Survey finds lack of drinking fountains on Canadian campuses

There is a noticeable lack of drinking fountains at Canadian post-secondary institutions, according to the Corporate Initiatives on Campus online survey. 33% of respondents said they noticed a reduction of water fountains on campus, while 43% noted delays in making repairs to fountains. Several respondents mentioned beverage vending machines are replacing fountains. 27% indicated there was an active campaign on campus to remove their school's beverage exclusivity contract. The University of British Columbia has been criticized for a lack of drinking fountains at its new facilities. CUPE News Release | CanWest News Service | Read the full report

Obama promises affordable tuition

Last Thursday night, US Democrat Barack Obama officially accepted the party's nomination for president, including PSE in his speech. He referenced his plan to make tuition more affordable for students and their families, and put college at the centre of his own American dream. Obama cites PSE as one of the fundamentals of American life, and expressed his wish to make education more accessible to every student.  The Chronicle of Higher Education

Concordia unveils redesigned Arts & Science faculty website

Concordia University recently launched its redesigned Faculty of Arts & Science website, which now fits in line with the university's web template. A banner reading "Engaged in Discovery" touts the faculty as a home to "some of the most innovative classroom teaching and cutting-edge research in Canada," and directs visitors to program listings and department websites. The page links to information about new hires at the faculty's departments and colleges. Concordia Faculty of Arts & Science website