Top Ten

December 10, 2009

Graduate tax credit among federal finance committee's budget recommendations

In a new report on pre-budget consultations, the federal Standing Committee on Finance recommends Ottawa create a refundable tax credit for new graduates, and make the credit available to those who move to designated regions and work in their field of study. The committee believes Canada's education system is stronger when international students are welcomed into the system, and therefore recommends the federal government, working with the provinces and territories, look at developing a national strategy to further emphasize Canadian education services exports. The committee also suggests Ottawa increase its support to research through research granting councils and research agencies, as well as encourage colleges and universities to partner on complementary areas of research. Read the full report

Bomb threat disrupts exams at Medicine Hat College

Students and staff at Medicine Hat College were evacuated Wednesday morning after the school's switchboard received a bomb threat just before 10:30 a.m. A sweep of all campus buildings by emergency services did not uncover any devices or unusual objects. Nearly 2 hours after the threat was made, college officials decided to reopen the campus to continue scheduled classes, exams, and services. The evacuation came as many students were preparing for or writing final exams. Some morning exams were disrupted, and faculty will review the status of exams in individual courses before deciding whether rewrites or other options are necessary. Medicine Hat College News Release | Medicine Hat News

BCIT plans 82 job cuts to alleviate $12-million shortfall

At a full staff meeting on Wednesday, British Columbia Institute of Technology president Don Wright announced that 82 full-time positions at the school will be eliminated, and the cuts will include management, teaching, and support staff positions. The job cuts are part of BCIT's effort to tackle a projected $12-million deficit, which is the result of a budget forecast that includes no increase in government funding for the school's next fiscal year. Final decisions and notice to affected staff will happen in mid-January. BCIT will consider job sharing or reduced work weeks to mitigate the cuts. Burnaby Now | Vancouver Sun

Fraud trial set for former FNUC VP

Wes Stevenson, formerly employed as the First Nations University of Canada's vice-president of finance, will be going to trial for fraud, following the completion of a preliminary hearing this week. Stevenson is charged with fraud over $5,000 for allegedly defrauding the university between January 2003 and March 2005. The amount of the alleged fraud has not been made public. Stevenson will return to court in the new year. Regina Leader-Post | CBC

Appointment of Pfizer VP to CIHR generates controversy

Over 4,000 individuals, including several prominent ethicists and researchers, have signed a petition demanding the federal government withdraw the appointment of Dr. Bernard Prigent, vice-president and medical director of Pfizer Canada, to the governing council of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The petition states that Pfizer has a "well-documented history of transgressions against the integrity of science," and that since 2002 the pharmaceutical firm has paid 4 substantial fines for legal and ethical violations. A former member of the council says Prigent will have access to information to which his competitors do not, and "he can exert a steering effect where they cannot." Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq says she is not reconsidering the appointment. The CIHR government council comprises mainly scientists, medical practitioners, and health administrators drawn from Canadian universities. CanWest News Service | Read the petition

NB universities need international-recruitment strategy, says Mount Allison president

Speaking to a Telegraph-Journal editorial board Wednesday, Mount Allison president Robert Campbell described New Brunswick's universities as a economic sector that could brighten the province's bleak demographic picture. Campbell told the board that foreign students are the "pulp and paper" of the province's future, bringing population and expertise to NB. He suggested the province and its 4 largest universities collaborate on a strategy setting out targets for international-student recruitment. Campbell believes the NB government would be making a strategic decision to say PSE should be a winning sector for the province. He cited the latest provincial budget as indication of NB's belief that universities foster economic value. Telegraph-Journal

UoGuelph to demolish 6 on-campus houses

At a campus meeting last week, University of Guelph president Alastair Summerlee announced plans to tear down 6 houses at the corner of Stone Road and Gordon Street and replace them with decorative landscaping next summer. While the university may eventually build a welcome centre on the site, another building is "absolutely not planned at the moment." The houses are currently occupied by students, a campus food bank, and a bike repair centre. The food bank and bike centre will be moved to another facility, while the students living in the houses will stay put for the remainder of the school year. Guelph Mercury

Grant from Audain Foundation supports UBC museum renovation

The Audain Foundation for the Visual Arts has awarded the University of British Columbia's Museum of Anthropology $2.5 million in support of its current major capital renewal project, A Partnership of Peoples. Along with other contributions, the gift is a significant step towards completing the project's $55.5-million funding target. In recognition of the gift, the museum's major temporary exhibit gallery has been renamed the Audain Gallery. UBC News Release

Vanier College program to help nursing students pass French-proficiency test

Montreal-based Vanier College is developing a program designed to help CÉGEP nursing students who did not attend high school in Quebec pass a French-proficiency exam in order to practice in the province. The project is an online program designed to complement the French courses students already take, but which don't always adequately prepare them for the proficiency exam. While the project is Vanier's initiative, French teachers at Dawson College and John Abbott College are also working on developing the new material for the Centre Collégial de Développement de Matériel Pédagogique. Montreal Gazette

Facebook introduces new privacy settings

On Wednesday, Facebook presented its more than 350 million users with a Transition Tool -- a transparent process requiring users to review and update their privacy settings. The tool begins with a message explaining changes to privacy controls and will then let users update their settings. Users can either preserve their old settings or accept recommendations from Facebook. The social networking site is introducing new tools to allow people to customize control over their information, based on what the content is, why they are sharing it, when, and the target audience. The new controls and updated privacy guide follows Facebook's compliance with recommendations outlined in a report by Canada's privacy commissioner, who found "serious privacy gaps" in the way the site operates. Facebook News Release | Canadian Press