Top Ten

August 11, 2009

BC students lose $16 M in funding through more budget cuts

British Columbia's Ministry of Advanced Education announced on Monday that it has cancelled the province's $240,000 Premier's Excellence Awards, as well as a number of other PSE student funding programs, in an effort to cut the budget by 15%. The cuts reduce BC's core student financial assistance programs to $100 million, affecting, among others, the province's top 16 high school graduates, who were expected to receive $15,000 each through the Premier's Excellence Awards. Student organizations argue that the cuts violate an election promise to maintain student funding, and take a wrong approach in a time of rising youth unemployment.  TimesColonist  |  Quesnel Observer  

MUN's ocean research receives $6.5 million in CFI funding

Memorial University of Newfoundland announced yesterday receipt of $6.5 million in funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation to create new state-of-the-art facilities at the University's Ocean Sciences Centre. The facilities will be used for the study of cold-water and deep-sea organisms and ecosystems, as well as research on aquatic infectious diseases and invasive species. Funding for the project is part of a $666 million investment announced by the CFI in June, which will support 133 projects at 41 institutions across the country.  MUN media release  |  MUN Today 

Ontario educators concerned about rise of "credit mills"

A new trend known as "buying a credit" has caused concern among both public school educators and officials at the Ontario Ministry of Education. High school seniors and their parents are opening their pocketbooks to attend carefully-chosen private summer schools, instead of hitting the books to earn better grades. Educators told the Canadian Press that they fear that students who engage in the practice will unfairly win scholarships and spots in select post-secondary institutions, and then arrive on campus unprepared. Canadian Press

OCUFA president urges caution for credit transfer plans

Brian Brown, the outbound president of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, published an op-ed in yesterday's Toronto Star describing the objectives and risks of the Ontario government's "Pathways Initiative" to increase credit transferability between colleges and universities in the province. While facilitating student mobility is both humane and makes good economic sense, Brown observes that college faculty have not been adequately involved in the planning process, and university faculty are concerned about low success rates for transfer students unless significant financial investments are made in Ontario colleges for adequate facilities, libraries, and staff. The government's plan could cost as much as it saves, he argues. Toronto Star 

Carleton student group takes university to human rights tribunal

The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal has agreed to hear a complaint from the Carleton University chapter of Students Against Israeli Apartheid, who allege university administrators "threatened" and "intimidated" SAIA members during this year's Israeli Apartheid Week. In a statement, Carleton calls the allegations "false and completely unfounded." Mediation is expected to take place in late September or early October, and should there be no resolution, the case will proceed to a hearing. Ottawa Citizen | Ottawa Sun | CBC

Ontario colleges cut wasteful energy use by 15%

In 2005, Ontario's 24 colleges partnered with Power Applications Group in an effort to cut their $50 million annual energy costs, largely due to deferred maintenance and outdated equipment. As part of the initiative, the colleges installed light sensors in classrooms, increased building insulation, added green roofs on buildings, and wind turbines on campuses. Three years later, the energy-efficiency projects undertaken by the 24 Ontario colleges have reduced their energy use on a per-square-footage basis by 15%. Humber College, for example, was able to reduce their annual electricity costs by nearly $100,000 by installing a state-of-the-art system.  National Post 

UK parliamentary report "infuriates" British higher ed

A British all-party committee in the House of Commons (the Innovation, Universities and Skills Select Committee) has just issued its "valedictory" report with 109 recommendations, accusing UK universities of "defensive complacency" and calling for "a change of culture at the top."  Recommendations address increased PSE participation, grade inflation, a new national bursary scheme, a full review of university tuition fees, and the inequities faced by part-time and mature students.  MPs want standardization of grades awarded across universities. Universities UK particularly objects to the idea of a new Quality and Standards agency as a threat to institutional autonomy. The "G20" universities are "dismayed and surprised by this outburst." The committee's responsibilities were recently reassigned to another department.  University World News  |  IUSSC Report 

Sooner or later, "EduPunk" movement will transform PSE

When Fast Company magazine turns its attention to higher education, entrepreneurs smell profit -- in the words of one, education is "the biggest virgin forest out there," with massive potential for reform through technology, and immense pressure to do so because of skyrocketing tuition costs. As I've been emphasizing in recent keynotes on emerging trends, the convergence of massive growth in online education, Google's online digitized library, Wikipedia and wiki curriculum websites, iTunesU and, MIT's OpenCourseWare, peer-to-peer tutoring, open teaching and competency-based testing will inevitably transform PSE. A telling question: "Why is it that my kid can't take robotics at Carnegie Mellon, linear algebra at MIT, law at Stanford? And why can't we put 130 of those together and make it a degree?" An article worth reading.  Fast Company

iPhone app makes textbooks digital and mobile

A new application introduced by Course-Smart LLC for the iPhone and iPod Touch promises to change the way university and college students purchase and read their textbooks. The application, which can be downloaded from iTunes, enables students to purchase more than 7,000 PSE textbooks from 12 large publishers for approximately half the cost of printed versions. The introduction of the application follows a recent surge in e-book technology, with companies such as Sony and Amazon producing electronic-book readers. Apple is rumoured to be developing a tablet-sized iPhone, for release as early as this fall.  Ottawa Citizen  |  CanWest News Service 

Forbes ranks 600 "best" US colleges

Forbes magazine has just published the second annual ranking of "America's Best Colleges," as determined by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. The rankings consider quality of education, student experience, and student achievement -- based in part on inputs from,, and Who's Who in America. The number one college in America?  West Point (the US Military Academy), which this year bumped Princeton from the top spot, thanks largely to the complete lack of tuition for enrolled students. The Ivy league remain prominent -- Harvard placed 5th, Yale 9th, Stanford 10th, and MIT 11th -- but Duke and Cornell placed 104th and 105th, while the US Air Force Academy placed 7th, and the US Naval Academy placed 30th. The "best value" ROI schools are predominantly located in the Southern US. There is also a do-it-yourself screener tool.  Forbes Rankings  |  Do-It-Yourself Screener  |  ABC News  |  How West Point Beat the Ivy League