Top Ten

November 30, 2009

Ontario MTCU releases report on Durham College's financial weaknesses

According to a recently released report commissioned by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, the performance of Durham College and the excess of its expenditures are due in part to the weaknesses of its organizational structure and decision-making process. At the college's request, the MTCU became involved in reviewing the institution's finances last winter after it amassed a deficit of over $20 million in 2 years. Some challenges noted in the report include appropriate monitoring and oversight of key activities, such as the college's arrangements with the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, and in the school's international division. The report recommends the college's board conduct an annual evaluation of the president to ensure the school's objectives are being met. Durham College's president says the school's main focus right now is to deliver on its balanced budget. Durham Region News

Self-govern or face contentious zoning bylaw, Metro Vancouver warns UBC

Metro Vancouver is warning the University of British Columbia that if it will not take responsibility for its own governance, Metro will impose a contentious zoning bylaw. UBC has publicly criticized the local government for proposed regulations on university land, which the institution argues would damage its academic mission. Because UBC has resisted attempts to amalgamate with Vancouver or form its own municipal governance structure, Metro Vancouver''s director says Metro is finding it more difficult to act as UBC's local government, as it must deal with strictly university issues, such as the controversy of the future of the UBC farm. Vancouver Sun | GVRD-UBC Joint Committee Meeting Agenda

New book argues Ontario's baccalaureate model is unsustainable

Academic Transformation: The Forces Reshaping Higher Education in Ontario, a new book released yesterday, argues that Ontario's model for providing undergraduate education is no longer viable. Increased expectation for institutions to produce knowledge that will enhance Canada's economic well-being, and pressure to increase accessibility to undergraduate-level education has made it impossible for Ontario to maintain a model of education in which students should be taught only by faculty who are actively engaged in original research, the book argues. The authors find that the high costs associated with the research-university model has resulted in chronic financial strain. Recommendations listed in the book include creating a new sector of baccalaureate institutions that focus on teaching, encouraging universities to create or maintain a high-quality 3-year undergraduate degree, and promoting balance and differentiation in the college sector. HEQCO News Release | Globe and Mail

OUSA report urges increased provincial PSE funding

In a new report on the beneficial economic impact of Ontario universities, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance stresses the need for increased investment in universities to ensure the province's long-term prosperity. The report notes current gaps in Ontario's PSE system, such as rising student-faculty ratios, lower quality, and lower per-student funding than in any other Canadian province. The report recommends Ontario continue to provide funding to fully cover all enrolment growth at post-secondary institutions, develop and implement a comprehensive early outreach strategy targeting under-represented students, and bring per-student funding for universities up to the national average. OUSA News Release | OCUFA News Release | Toronto Star | Read the full report

Former MP appointed interim president of STU

St. Thomas University's board of governors has appointed Dennis Cochrane as the institution's interim president and vice-chancellor, effective January 2010. A graduate of the University of New Brunswick and the Université de Moncton, Cochrane was mayor of Moncton from 1979-83, and an MP from 1984-88. He was elected leader of NB's PC party in 1991 and was an MLA, roles he served in until 1995. Cochrane has also served as the deputy minister of education in NB and Nova Scotia. Cochrane succeeds Michael Higgins, who announced his resignation in August. Cochrane will serve as STU president until July 1, 2011, at which time a president will be in place following a search process. STU News Release | CBC

Humber opens Centre for Justice Leadership

Yesterday Humber College celebrated the opening of its new Centre for Justice Leadership at its Lakeshore campus. The 180,000-square-foot "CSI" centre features a crime scene investigation studio, evidence processing studio, interview rooms, and leading-edge forensic equipment. The centre will be home to Humber's new 4-year Criminal Justice Degree, Police Foundations, and Community & Justice programs, and will also be used by professional law enforcement officers looking to upgrade their skills and field training. Humber News Release

Construction boom at uManitoba research park

The Smartpark development at the University of Manitoba is going through the biggest growth spurt in its decade-long history, with 5 construction projects in various stages of development. Projects at the 100-acre research park, located on the west side of the Fort Garry campus, include Winnipeg's first office building on stilts, a $10-million plant breeding centre for Monsanto Canada, construction of a second retention pond for the park, renovations to a second building that Cangene Corp. has acquired next to its corporate headquarters, and expansion of Smartpark's business incubator -- the Eureka Project. Winnipeg Free Press

Intervention programs boost low-income youth's interest in PSE, report finds

A new report from the Social Research and Demonstration Corporation examining the effectiveness of 2 approaches to encouraging youth, particularly those from low-income and low-education families, to access PSE finds that offering career education and an early guarantee of financial aid to high school students can have significant impact on their interest in higher-education studies. In its examination of Explore Your Horizons, which offers enhanced career education workshops to students in Grades 10 through 12, SRDC found that in New Brunswick francophone schools, the proportion of students planning to apply to university rose from 32% to 47%. In anglophone schools in NB, the promise of an $8,000 bursary, under the program Learning Accounts, the proportion of students with post-secondary aspirations increased from 87% to 96%. SRDC News Release | Adventures in Canadian Post-Secondary Education (Dale Kirby's blog) | Read the full report

Downturn to impact trades enrolment at SAIT

Shifting demographics and the recession are affecting staff levels among construction trades, which will likely affect apprenticeship enrolments at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, say industry and school officials. Even as ground clearing is underway for the $445-million Trades and Technology Complex at SAIT, officials say a decline is likely in the number of students applying to trades programs. Part of the problem is that in order to get into an apprenticeship program, students must have jobs, and with companies downsizing, the requirement is not attainable for a growing number of people. Calgary Herald

uSask launches project to improve distance education

As part of its commitment to manage enrolment numbers and deliver quality programming throughout the province, the University of Saskatchewan has initiated a project to improve distance education. A series of consultations with uSask college deans and department heads uncovered consensus that increasing and improving the model of off-campus learning is important to the university's future. Distance education is growing at uSask. Off-campus learning has expanded by 5.8% since last year, and fall figures show that over 4,400 students are enrolled in off-campus and distanced education, studying either through regional colleges or online learning. uSask On Campus News