Top Ten

November 12, 2009

SFU student dies after losing consciousness in school pool

21-year-old Bernd Dittrich, a Simon Fraser University student who played quarterback for the school's football team, passed away in hospital Wednesday after he lost consciousness in the swimming pool at SFU's Margaret and Paul Savage Aquatic Centre Tuesday evening. While the cause of death has not yet been determined, Dittrich, an Austrian native, had a previously undetected heart condition. In a news release issued Wednesday, SFU expressed condolences to the young man's family. SFU News Release | Vancouver Sun

Universities turn to social media to compete for undergrads

Starting next year, the population of 18- to 21-year-olds is expected to decline nationwide, with the steepest declines anticipated for Saskatchewan and Atlantic Canada. Academica Group's Ken Steele observes that a lot of post-secondary institutions are looking at not being able to rely on their traditional catchment areas, and need to go outside their region to attract students. Canadian universities are dabbling in all sorts of social networking sites in order to boost their profile in an increasingly competitive environment. For example, the University of New Brunswick launched a tuition contest last year called "Only One U" in which prospective students created Facebook groups explaining why they want to attend the university. Ryan Anstey, the contest's winner, says he is still getting attention for the YouTube video he created to go along with his entry, and has friends considering UNB. Globe and Mail

Several Vancouver-area institutions to extend reading breaks during Olympics

A number of post-secondary schools across BC's Lower Mainland will not be running classes during the course of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Starting on February 12, the day the Games begin, Capilano University, Vancouver Community College, and Langara College will not hold classes until the end of February. Emily Carr students will be off between February 14 and 27, while Douglas College and Kwantlen Polytechnic University will have no classes beginning February 15. Reading breaks at SFU and UBC will run from February 15 to 26. At BCIT, no part-time studies classes will run between February 12 and 28. Georgia Straight

uAlberta academic staff to vote on furloughs

The Association of Academic Staff at the University of Alberta has begun a referendum in which all staff are asked to back a proposal to take 6 days off without pay to help to school address a projected $59-million shortfall. The furlough days would save uAlberta about $10 million. According to a document outlining the university's financial difficulties, staff would need to take as many as 12 furlough days to save the $20 million uAlberta is looking to achieve through salaries. Another $20 million would be raised through increased tuition and student fees, while the remaining $19 million would come from cost-cutting measures in university administration. uAlberta's provost warns of a "nightmare scenario" of layoffs if these 3 strategies don't make up for the shortfall. CBC | uAlberta Budget Q&A

Canada to require biometric data of foreign students

According to a senior Canadian immigration official speaking at the annual Canadian Bureau for International Education conference this week, within 2 years, foreign students applying for study visas to Canada will be required to provide biometric identification details. The process would involve fingerprinting and photographs, and would be carried out by Canadian officials in the students' home nations. In discussions after the immigration official's briefing, some delegates said the new requirement could be cumbersome and costly, while others commented that they hoped there would be some discussion with post-secondary institutions before the plan comes into effect. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

North York council approves York development plan overview

On Tuesday, North York community council approved a plan outlining a broad overview of development at York University over the next 25 years. Further studies will take place as actual development plans for 490 acres of land at the university take shape and after York determines what role it will play. The secondary plan, to still be approved by Toronto city council, looks at the future development in York's academic core and 6 outer "precincts." The plan is driven in large part by the expansion of the Spadina subway line to the university.

New studio opens at Emily Carr

On Tuesday, Emily Carr University of Art and Design officials and students celebrated the opening of newly renovated studio space in the institution's Mitchell Press Building. The third floor of the building has been upgraded and refurbished to accommodate a studio for students in visual arts, design, and masters programs. Along with the studio space, Emily Carr has added a student gallery to give students the experience of showing their work before graduation. BC News Release

Ottawa, Alberta invest in online learning opportunities at Athabasca U

On Monday, the federal and Alberta governments announced a joint investment of $4.4 million towards enhancing online learning opportunities through Athabasca University. The university will employ individuals with basic computer skills for the purpose of converting the content of 450 existing courses to a digital format compatible for online learning. WEDC News Release

Ottawa urged to increase investment in foreign-student recruitment strategy

In an opinion piece published in the Embassy, the presidents of AUCC, ACCC, the Canadian Bureau of International Education, the Canadian Association of Public Schools -- International, and Languages Canada state that figures presented in a recent government report on the economic impact of international education in Canada provide further evidence supporting their call for a significant new government investment in an international-student recruitment strategy. While Canada has made progress with a new education brand, improvements to immigration policies and processes, and the creation of the Vanier Scholarships, the nation's efforts continue to be eclipsed by those of other countries that have major government-funded branding and marketing initiatives. Read the article

Delaying maintenance, layoffs most common options among cash-strapped institutions in US

According to new survey from the US-based Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, the schools hardest hit by the recession most often chose to delay deferred maintenance projects, cut staff, and reduce contingent faculty positions in order to deal with revenue shortfalls. 55% of responding institutions reported that student support services were "harmed" by state cuts, and 54% stated their ability to maintain academic programs and course offerings had been affected by the reductions. 70% of universities said they were relying on federal stimulus dollars as a short-term strategy. As for the long term, 78% of respondents reported investing in more energy-efficient systems. Inside Higher Ed