Top Ten

December 8, 2008

Toronto Star exposes fake degree scam

On Sunday, the Toronto Star ran an article on its investigation into a phoney degree ring run by 26-year-old York University graduate Peng Sun, whose forgeries appear authentic. According to the Star's investigation, Peng charges $3,000 for most degrees, and $6,000 for a post-2006 University of Toronto degree. Peng also fabricates transcripts, admission letters, proof of tuition payments, and student ID cards. Last year, a degree mill allegedly run by 5 Chinese visa students was uncovered in Markham Ontario. The fake-degree market is a billion-dollar industry, with an estimated 200,000 phony diplomas being pumped out annually around the world. Toronto Star

Possible $6-million deficit at Lakehead

Lakehead University may have a $6.3-million deficit in its May 2009 budget should there be no increases in income, and if expenses remain at current levels. However, the university's current surpluses would reduce the accumulated deficit to $5.5-million. Lakehead administration is exploring options to increase revenue and cut expenditures, such as a hiring freeze. Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal

uWindsor receives strong credit rating

The University of Windsor has been given a strong rating in the latest Moody's Investors Service report, which university president Alan Wildeman says reflects the school's "prudent" approach to finances and responsible money-management. The report, which gave uWindsor an Aa3 rating, says the current economic downturn is not likely to have a permanent negative impact on the school's financial position. The analysis found that the school has strong assets and a moderate debt burden. uWindsor recently rewrote portions of its operating budget to reflect the market turmoil. Windsor Star

"Cotton-battening of thought" on campus should be reversed

An editorial published in Monday's Globe and Mail observes that students once fought for greater civil rights and liberties, but it appears that these days some want to limit free speech. The editorial cites the "absurd amendments" to the Lakehead University student union's constitution regarding student club activities, and the loss of club status for pro-life groups at schools like the University of Guelph and York University. Student executives should be called upon to "reverse this trend toward the cotton-battening of thought and debate on campus." Globe and Mail

Acadia creates virtual training tool for education students

Acadia University has developed a teaching-training tool called Managing to Teach (M2T), which simulates realistic classroom situations in which novice teachers can make decisions in a safe environment. M2T includes video of actual classroom scenes, text, interaction, and resource material. Users are required to make decisions and then view the consequences. A mentor will guide users through challenges and offer just-in-time feedback. M2T is available through the Internet or CD-ROM, and will be accessible to education students across Canada. Acadia News Release

uToronto leads in TVO Best Lecturer nominations

TVO has narrowed down the contenders in its 2009 Big Ideas Best Lecturer Competition from 125 professors to 20. The University of Toronto is leading with 8 nominees from its 3 campuses, followed by Carleton University and the University of Western Ontario with 3 contending professors each. The other schools represented among the top 20 are Brock, Canadore College, OCAD, UoGuelph, and York. TVO News Release | UoGuelph News Release | Western News

Postscript: Dec 11, 2008
In Tuesday's issue, we reported on the schools with faculty remaining in TVO's 2009 Big Ideas Best Lecturer Competition. We overlooked York University, which has 2 professors in the competition. The item has been corrected on our website. Y-File

Queen's AMS runs holiday house check program

The Alma Mater Society at Queen's University offers a free neighbourhood-watch service whereby AMS executives check on student homes vacated during winter break. Checkers make the homes appear as students are still inside by packing down snow and picking up mail. The homes are checked twice a week. So far 100 houses have signed up for the program. An AMS executive says students are 8% more likely to have their homes broken into than permanent residents during the Christmas season. Kingston Whig-Standard

Aboriginal youth should have option to learn in mother tongue

St. Thomas University professor Andrea Bear Nicholas is urging the New Brunswick government to offer Aboriginal youth the option to study some courses in their mother-tongue language. Bear Nicholas says that if the province would offer some classes in Mi'kmaq and Maliseet, the academic performance of Aboriginal students would improve. Access to a Mother-Tongue Medium education would help preserve those fading languages. Daily Gleaner

Facebook addiction hinders exam preparation

University counsellors are noticing that Facebook, instant messaging, and 24-hour news feeds are an addiction that is making it more difficult for students to hit the books than ever before. The director of student health at Queen's University has seen record numbers of students seeking assistance to balance essays with e-mail alerts. A University of Toronto learning skills counsellor says Internet addiction is a large source of anxiety for students, who often inquire about places to study on campus where there is no Internet access. Toronto Star

uToronto grad student develops video-sharing technology

A University of Toronto graduate student has created a system to improve video-sharing websites such as YouTube. By compressing large amounts of video data to be searched based on content, the Tiny Videos system can recognize and find duplicate video clips to give them proper labels. The technology can also quickly identify videos that infringe on copyright and alert copyright holders. The system is able to help users find similar or related news coverage. uToronto News