Top Ten

August 12, 2009

Economy hits Edmonton students coming and going

Turned away from schools and unable to find employment, Edmonton students are feeling the recession. With an increase in the number of individuals applying to school, many potential students in Edmonton have been turned away due to lack of seats. NAIT, for example, has already rejected more than 7,000 potential students, and MacEwan has seen an increase of more than 200 students. The economic downturn has also meant a reduction in the number of  jobs available for current and graduating students. According to Statistics Canada, nearly 21% of students nationwide were still looking for employment in July.  Edmonton Journal (PSE)  |  Edmonton Journal (Unemployment) 

Kwantlen receives $3 M for library and student services

Kwantlen Polytechnic University announced on Tuesday receipt of nearly $3 million in funding from the federal and provincial governments to make improvements to the Richmond campus library and to renovate and expand student services at the Langley campus. These projects are part of a $14 billion infrastructure program designed to create jobs and vital public infrastructure throughout BC, as well as 2 of 11 jointly-funded federal-provincal PSE projects across the province, which total $64.3 million.  Kwantlen media release (Library)  |  Kwantlen media release (Student services) 

Laptops with patient information stolen from uAlberta hospital

On June 4, two laptops containing the records of 250,000 patients were stolen from a research lab at the University of Alberta Hospital. While not complete health records, the laptops held the names and health numbers of patients who suffered from a number of communicable and reportable diseases. Officials at Alberta Health Services indicated that the likelihood of identity theft was relatively low, as the laptops were protected by a security program which would make access to the information difficult. Edmonton Journal 

More than 100,000 US vets hit campuses under new GI bill

A new GI bill signed into legislation last June aims to make the transition back to civilian life easier for veterans through free education, and more than 100,000 vets of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will arrive on campuses in the coming weeks. The legislation offers American military veterans full tuition at any public institution in the state in which he or she resides, or the equivalent of in-state tuition if the veteran chooses to enrol in a private college or university. The bill also provides stipends for housing, books and tutors. Currently, there are about 1.8 million post-9/11 veterans who are eligible for the program. Forbes magazine 

More US students graduate with debt, study shows

A recent report by the College Board entitled "How Much Are College Students Borrowing?" found that debt levels have significantly increased for students in what we would call career colleges and community colleges, and to a lesser extent for those in universities. 98% of students who received a degree from a for-profit two-year college had a student loan, while just 38% of those at community colleges had loans. Students in for-profit certificate programs in 2007-2008 tended to carry a debt load of approximately $9,700, which was 30% higher than the average debt load in 2003-2004.  Chronicle of Higher Ed  |  New York Times (Subscription required)

Indian students being scared away from Australia

In recent months, media reports about a spate of violent attacks on Indian students studying at Australian colleges have cut in half the number of inquiries about Australia received by Indian education agents -- and will likely boost international recruitment by New Zealand, the UK, the US, and Canada in the coming year. India's minister for external affairs was in Australia earlier this month to seek reassurances about the safety of the 93,000 Indian students in the country. The incidents have largely affected students at private vocational colleges, where enrolments of Indian students have soared 1700% in just 3 years. International education, worth more than $15 billion annually to Australia, is the nation's third-largest export behind coal and iron ore.  "Australia's Indian student bubble appears now to have been popped, but by thugs rather than government," observes blogger Christopher Ziguras. Sydney Morning Herald  |  GlobalHigherEd blog 

Twitter not for teens

A recent report released by the Neilsen Company entitled "Teens Don't Tweet: Twitter's Growth Not Fueled By Youth," reports that 16% of Twitter users are under the age of 25, and that more than 90% of the audience for TweetDeck is over the age of 25. Tanya Joosten, a lecturer in the uWisconsin Milwaukee department of communication, suggests that it is likely people under the age of 25 do not have any interest in broadcasting beyond their friends, whereas individuals 25 and older may reach out to technologies like Twitter to stay connected to the world and meet new people with similar interests. Chronicle of Higher Ed 

Skill-specific, not credential-specific, training

A Michigan community college has taken customizable workforce training to a new level, splitting courses into 1,200 skill "modules" worth fractions of a credit-hour, and costing as little as $20.  Students can take each module at their convenience, on a walk-in basis, and have unlimited time to prove their competency in the specified skill. "Employers love the flexibility of our program" -- and employers pay only when students successfully complete a module. The approach sounds more challenging for instructors, who may have to juggle 7 students in 7 different modules at a time. Some employers also prefer simple, cohort-based training. But the "playlist" approach to a la carte learning may well be a winner with non-traditional students in the future.  Inside Higher Ed 

Educational malpractice lawsuits certain to multiply

Peter Lake, the director of the Center for Excellence in Higher Education Law and Policy at Florida's Stetson University, writes this week in the Chronicle of Higher Education that the recent lawsuit launched against Monroe College by an unemployed graduate may be the start of a trend toward "educational malpractice" lawsuits against colleges and universities, exacerbated by the state of the economy. Past educational malpractice lawsuits have generally been rejected, often by courts unwilling to interfere with academic freedom, and relying on the principle of caveat emptorChronicle of Higher Ed 

Google introduces "Caffeine" search engine

In a post yesterday on their Webmaster Central blog, Google announced a major upgrade to their search engine architecture. Nicknamed Caffeine, the new search engine promises to increase index size, improve the speed of search engine queries, and change the value of search engine rankings. Some individuals suggest that the changes made may have negative implications for businesses that rely on Google-generated traffic, as the new architecture could change how companies rank in search engine results.  ComputerWorld  |   PC World