Top Ten

January 11, 2010

High school seniors, laid-off workers vie for spots at Ontario institutions

As the deadlines for Grade 12 students in Ontario applying to provincial colleges and universities loom, high school seniors are competing with workers who lost their jobs during the recession for high-demand, high-employment programs. Ontario's Second Career Program, first launched in 2008 as a $355-million, 3-year initiative to help laid-off workers upgrade their skills, has been so popular that in October the province pumped another $78-million into the program after funding were scooped up in the first 18 months. Despite being up against an influx of mature students, high school seniors would not be given priority for scarce spaces. If the province funded more seats, say post-secondary administrators, there would be no need to choose between secondary school graduates and mature students. Canadian Press

Ontario MTCU shuts down Markham-based private college

The Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities has suspended registration of Mountains Institute of Technology, a Markham-based private career college, due to violations of the province's Private Career Colleges Act, including making misrepresentations to MTCU staff and failing to maintain programs as approved. Unable to operate as a private career college in the province, the institute cannot deliver vocational programs or solicit or accept applications from students. Ontario MTCU Bulletin

Privacy complaints lodged over biometric data for professional program entrance exams

Canada's privacy commissioner has received at least 3 complaints over the requirement of individuals writing American-designed entrance tests for professional programs to provide digital prints of their finger, thumb, or veins in their palms. The measures are used to deter people from hiring others to write the exams for them. The privacy commissioner's office is investigating complaints about the use of palm scanners by the GMAT, and digital fingerprints by the MCAT. In 2008, the commission agreed with a complaint that the LSAT was violating Canadian students' right to privacy by requiring a digital thumbprint. Now, Canadians who write the law school entrance exam must provide a digital photo instead. Toronto Star

Ottawa continues to withhold funding from FNUC

The federal government will continue to withhold nearly $1.25 million in funding from the First Nations University of Canada after the school failed to submit 2 reports by January 1. An Indian and Northern Affairs Canada spokesman says FNUC officials have told INAC not to expect the reports, which include a comprehensive "action plan" and a "board of governors manual," for at least a couple of months. Once the reports are submitted and approved, INAC will release the funding. INAC has approved 2 other reports on senior administration and internal operations, leading to the release of $600,000. In June, Ottawa decided to hold back $2.4 million from FNUC until changes were made at the institution. Regina Leader-Post

Documents show low uptake of Manitoba's tuition rebate program

Since 2007, 13,000 post-secondary graduates have applied for Manitoba's tuition rebate program, according to government documents obtained by the Winnipeg Free Press. The figures fall short of the 21,000 students who graduated from Manitoba's top 5 institutions since the program was initiated. The documents show that Manitoba is not tracking the rebate's recipients, and cannot say if the rebate is keeping graduates in the province. An official with the provincial says it's too early to evaluate whether the program will be successful. Students and government critics say the province is missing the mark with the rebate, arguing the program makes no difference in whether graduates want to stay in Manitoba. Winnipeg Free Press

uVic begins $43-million renovation project

Yesterday marked the official start of $42.5 million in renovations at the University of Victoria. The project involves upgrades to the university's Clearihue, Cunningham, Elliot, MacLaurin, Cornett, and University Centre buildings, all built between 1962 and 1978. Renovations include seismic upgrades, fire alarms enhancements, sprinkler system installations, and mechanical system upgrades. Construction is expected to be completed by the spring of 2011. BC News Release

NS campaign labels province "Canada's University Capital"

Yesterday the Nova Scotia government unveiled a marketing campaign promoting the "world-class offerings" of the province's 11 universities. The campaign, which bills NS as "Canada's University Capital," features an interactive website through which visitors can meet a professor from each university and receive a brief introduction to the institutions. The campaign is designed to help the province's universities "stand out and remind our young people that a world-class education can be found right here." The campaign will be launched in Toronto and Ottawa later this month. NS News Release | Halifax Chronicle-Herald |

Student testimonials basis for uMontreal's new marketing campaign

The Université de Montréal has launched a new marketing campaign with colourful ads highlighting some frequently-cited reasons students have for choosing uMontréal: quality of education, focus on research, and openness to the world. uMontréal's rebranding process began last summer with a revision of some recruitment-oriented communication tools, including the future-students portal. When conducting video interviews with current students, the university was surprised by their enthusiasm, and found the testimonials often overlapped, leading the university to develop a campaign based on the students' own words, which in the ads are played with esthetically to build levels like "saVOIR." uMontréal News |

uSask vet college introduces social network posting policy

The University of Saskatchewan's Western College of Veterinary Medicine has drawn up a policy regarding postings on social networking sites, as the college has become aware over the last couple of years that some postings by students and staff "are not really following appropriate ethical or professional standards." Under the policy, unauthorized Internet posting of pictures or other materials within the vet college is prohibited. The school forbids the unauthorized posting of images of "animals, organs, cadavers, animal parts, laboratory and post-mortem activities, pictures of people, or other college material to any Internet social network." uSask OnCampus News

Blackboard, D2L end patent battle

Course-management software companies Blackboard Inc. and Desire2Learn reached an agreement last month to license each other's e-learning patent portfolios and settle all outstanding litigation between them. Blackboard first filed suit against Canadian-based D2L in 2006 for patent infringement. In July, Blackboard was ordered to repay $3 million in damages after a US federal appeals court reversed a lower-court verdict that D2L had violated 3 patent claims held by Blackboard. D2L/Blackboard News Release | Waterloo Region Record | Inside Higher Ed