Top Ten

September 1, 2009

Company in eHealth scandal awarded untendered contract from Ontario MTCU

According to documents obtained by the Globe and Mail, the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities awarded without competition a $430,000 contract to Courtyard Group, a "healthcare transformation" firm that made headlines in June for its untendered work at eHealth Ontario, to study how the province's universities and colleges should expand. The contract shows, for example, a Courtyard employee's visit to McMaster University and Sheridan College cost taxpayers over $5,000 alone. The company repaid the province nearly $6,355 out of $15,000 in travel expenses shortly after the eHealth scandal surfaced. Although the company has little experience in PSE, Courtyard was recommended for the assignment by the university sector. The province has since introduced new rules stating that unless there are exceptional circumstances, all contracts must be put out to competitive tender. Globe and Mail

London men win appeal in Second Career tuition dispute

After filing an appeal on an order by Second Career officials to pay the final instalment on their tuition or face expulsion, 2 London men will not have to pay into their retraining program. Goodwill Industries, which manages the Second Career program in London, reviewed the case and found the men "were contributing toward legitimate costs which was not originally in their training plans." In July, Ontario's attorney general stepped in to lobby on behalf of the former Sterling Truck workers, who had been told by Ontario MTCU officials that they had to pay for their final term at North American Trade School when they received an unexpected $11,000 severance package when the plant closed. London Free Press

Atlantic universities urged to defer expansion plans

Since an aging population will make it more difficult to maintain even current enrolments, universities in Atlantic Canada should put their expansion plans on hold, argues renowned demographer David Foot. While he praises New Brunswick universities for their efforts to recruit in India and Latin America, Foot warns that international recruitment should not be treated as an expansionary move. He suggests nations that can afford to pay international students fees but do not have enough educational facilities themselves should be the target of recruitment efforts. Telegraph-Journal

uWaterloo opens Dubai campus

This week the University of Waterloo launched its new campus in Dubai United Arab Emirates. Classes began yesterday for 22 students -- 8 in chemical engineering, and 14 in civil engineering. The students, to be taught by uWaterloo professors, will spend their first 2 years in the UAE, then complete the final two years in Canada. In the future, the campus will offer programs in financial analysis and risk management, and information technology management. uWaterloo News Release

$3-million gift funds scholarships at UNB

On Monday -- his last day as the president of the University of New Brunswick -- John McLaughlin announced a $3.1-million gift from the late Eldon and Maxine Clair. The donation will endow both the Eldon and Maxine Clair Scholarship and the Eldon and Maxine Clair UNB Computer Science Fund. The scholarship is open to students from Carleton County, where the Clairs were born and raised. The fund will support the purchase of equipment, provide for scholarships, and allow the university to hire experts to teach and conduct research. UNB News Release | Daily Gleaner

NAIT sets up $2-million Métis endowment

The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology announced yesterday the establishment a $2.14-million Métis Nation of Alberta Student Awards Endowment Fund. The Métis Nation of Alberta donated $1.07 million to create the fund, and the gift was matched by NAIT. The value of the awards range between $1,500 and $5,000. The higher-end awards will be reserved for students taking an applied undergraduate degree or undergraduate degree. NAIT News Release

Enrolment boom at UBC

The University of British Columbia is reporting an 8% increase in incoming first-year students at its Vancouver campus, while UBC-Okanagan in Kelowna will see 14% more first-year students this year. Total undergraduate enrolment at the Vancouver and Kelowna campuses is up 4% and 11%, respectively. Graduate enrolment has risen by 4% at the Vancouver campus, and 39% at UBC-O. International enrolment is also on the rise at the university. The number of first-year international students at the Vancouver campus has jumped by 22%. UBC News Release

Enrolment expected to rise at NBCC

Despite the province's shrinking high school graduate pool, New Brunswick Community College expects 5,677 students to enrol full time at the institution this year, compared to 5,317 students last year. An NBCC official says one reason more students are choosing community college is the high employment rate of the school's graduates. The province's community college system will be overhauled in the next year, the Times & Transcript reports. NB's PSE minister plans to introduce legislation later this year that will make NBCC independent of the provincial government. Times & Transcript

Mount Allison tears down 2 historic buildings

Last week, Mount Allison University demolished 2 99-year-old houses on its campus after the school could not find a buyer for the historic buildings. A condition of any potential sale of Baxter and Sprague Houses, which had been on the market since last summer, was that the buyer would have to move the homes before the beginning of this semester. While some are encouraging Mount Allison to maintain the aging buildings for historical purposes, the university says they are being torn down as part of effort to reduce the campus' carbon footprint and energy consumption. CBC

Study finds correlation between student satisfaction, retention

A new study from the US finds that post-secondary students who feel welcome, are aware of what's happening on campus, and feel like they belong are more likely to return the next year. The study finds that at the first-year level, students are more likely to stay when they are satisfied with their advisor's availability, impressed with the course content of their major, and feel that the campus is a safe place. By senior year, retention is more strongly tied to school characteristics and grade point average. Noel-Levitz News Release | Read the full report