Top Ten

June 2, 2009

Hamilton MP says local institutions were shortchanged in infrastructure funding announcement

The NDP MP representing Hamilton Mountain says she is "mystified" by Ottawa's decision not to award any funding from its $2-billion Knowledge Infrastructure Program to Mohawk College. Instead, the college will receive $20 million from a $55-million fund the Ontario government set up for provincial institutions who are not getting any joint infrastructure funding. Chris Charlton also believes McMaster University was shortchanged. While the university is getting $38.5 million for nuclear and spinal-cord projects, bigger proposals, including a $45-million life science building, were shut out for funding. Hamilton Spectator

NB Bible college president defends students' inclusion in provincial debt relief program

David Medders, president of Bethany Bible College, based in Sussex NB, is defending the provincial government's decision to include students from the college and 2 other religious institutions in the Timely Completion Benefit program, in which the province forgives student loans above $26,000. Medders and NB's PSE minister say the school's students, not its operating budget, benefit from the program. A professor from the University of New Brunswick--Saint John says the 3 schools should not receive any public funding unless they are part of the public system and subscribe to the system's standards. CBC

OPSEU lodges complaint against Fanshawe

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union has filed a labour board complaint against Fanshawe College, arguing that the college is trying to block the union's bid to organize part-time support staff at Fanshawe. A union representative says last month, union members setting up a table at the student union building to hand out information were told by someone from college administration that they couldn't be there. A Fanshawe official says the college needs to ensure the activity does not disrupt college operations. The college is reviewing the matter and will respond to the complaint within 10 days. London Free Press

uWindsor faces $5-million budget shortfall

As outlined in its 2009-10 budget, the University of Windsor projects a $4.78-million deficit. Operating expenditures for the year total $209 million. That figure was arrived at following a series of cost-cutting measures resulting in $6.7 million in savings. The budget shows that enrolment is down, with 12,766 full-time students projected for the fall, compared to 12,970 last year. Because government grants are based on enrolment, uWindsor "has to look at enrolment and get the most students we can." uWindsor Daily News | Windsor Star

uLethbridge student diagnosed with TB

The University of Lethbridge is working with public health officials to help connect them with students and members of the university community who may have come into contact with a student living on campus who recently contracted tuberculosis. The student supervised one final exam, and was in limited contact with an estimated 75 students. uLethbridge officials say the student is being treated for the illness and is recovering. Since February, 3 University of Victoria students have been diagnosed with TB. uLethbridge Notice Board | CTV | Canadian Press

Colleges need to focus more on student learning

Speaking at this week's Association of Canadian Community Colleges conference in Charlottetown, Sanford Shugart, president of Florida-based Valencia Community College, told delegates that the primary focus of community colleges must be on the relationship between the learner and the teacher. Shugart says colleges must foster what he calls a "culture of collaboration," noting that too many colleges place emphasis on student assessment, instructor productivity, and data collection. Technology can play a role in fostering collaboration, Shugart says. For example, Valencia uses the Web to get feedback from all facets of the community. Halifax Chronicle-Herald

Colleges and universities should be treated on same level

Also speaking at the ACCC conference, Toronto Star political columnist Chantal Hébert told delegates that when it comes to lobbying the government, those in the education sector should pay attention to all parties because, given the current political landscape of short-term minority governments, there could be a different government in power in just a couple of years. Hébert says education will become a "crucial priority" in politics, and notes that the government's attention should not be divided between college and university -- both are equally important and deserve to be on the same level. Charlottetown Guardian

Trend in US colleges subcontracting courses

A number of American institutions are exploring methods to reduce costs by subcontracting core curriculum classes. Kansas-based Fort Hays State University will accept credits from StraighterLine, a private company offering introductory courses online, in exchange for the courses being listed on university transcripts. The partnership has drawn criticism from students, who say it could damage the university's academic reputation. FHSU officials say the arrangement doesn't apply to current students; it is mostly a recruitment tool, used to encourage those who sign up for StraighterLine courses to continue their education at the university. Associated Press | "FHSU Students Against Straighter Line" Facebook group

The case for using blogging software instead of course-management systems

Talk at a recent event at the City Univeristy of New York focused on using free blogging software to distribute course material and run class discussions rather than course-management system such as Blackboard. The approach would save colleges money and students' work could be open to the public if desired. Open-source blog software gives professors more ability to customize their online classrooms, supporters say. Blackboard has become unpopular at CUNY after a series of technical problems. Despite jabs at Blackboard at the event, many attendees admit that when the CMS works, it is easy to use. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

College-going female veterans more likely to report sexual assault

According to a new study from the University of Minnesota, college-going veterans in the state and their classmates have similar overall health issues, but female veterans are much more likely to have been sexually assaulted. 43.5% of college-going female veterans reported being sexually assaulted in their lifetime, nearly 14% higher than female students overall. Just over 14% of female veterans reported having post-traumatic stress disorder, compared to 5.4% of women overall. 46.4% of female veterans in higher education reported incidents of domestic violence, compared to 37.8% of all female students. Inside Higher Ed | Read the full report