Top Ten

January 13, 2010

Climate research foundation fears brain drain over lack of stable government funding

The head of the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences says scientists and top students are already drifting away from the country because of a lack of stable, long-term government funding for climate research. While the decade-old foundation has had its mandate extended by a year to March 2012, it has not received new funding since the Conservatives took power in 2006. The foundation's executive director says research teams are being dismantled, and equipment is being removed from the field and stored because there is no funding to operate it. With previous government funding not set to run out for another 15 months, the foundation's money concerns will not likely be addressed in the next federal budget. Canadian Press

Financial Post reports on financial "trouble with universities"

Saturday's Financial Post featured 2 articles on the financial difficulties facing Canada's universities. One article cites several reasons, such as shrinking endowment funds and irresponsible capital spending, for why some institutions have become cash-strapped. One option to increase revenue is to draw more international students, but some criticize this as an exploitive measure. The second article, focusing on Quebec, says the financial mismanagement at the Université du Québec à Montréal represents some of the problems facing the province's university system, which relies almost exclusively on government and tax dollars. Quebec culture and special interest groups are being blamed for the slow pace of university reform in the province. Concordia University president Judith Woodsworth calls for a rise in provincial tuition rates to match the national average, and for universities to keep more tuition funds, which currently go to the government to disperse to institutions.

uLethbridge proposes salary freezes to trim shortfalls

In a letter distributed this week to University of Lethbridge employees, school president Bill Cade provides an update on ongoing conversations with employee group executive committees regarding salary freezes to assist with budget shortfalls. Members of senior administration have already agreed to accept a 0% salary increase for the 2010-11 fiscal year, and exempt support staff have, in principle with conditions, accepted a salary freeze for 2010-11. Discussions are ongoing with the APO and AUPE employee groups. The salary freezes have been proposed on the assumption of a 0% change to the Alberta operating grant. Cade stresses that every attempt must be made to avoid involuntary layoffs. uLethbridge Notice Board

$11 million for UBC researchers to map sunflower family genome

Researchers from the University of British Columbia have received $10.5 million from Genome Canada through the federal government, Genome BC, and international partners to enable them to develop the first reference genome of the sunflower family. The researchers' work could result in a hybrid sunflower that provides both biofuel and food products. The project is also being funded by the US Departments of Energy and Agriculture and France-based National Institute for Agriculture Research. UBC News Release

Partnerships to bring top Chinese doctoral students to uSask

The University of Saskatchewan's College of Graduate Studies and Research has signed memoranda of understanding with 6 Chinese universities that will provide graduate study opportunities for 20 PhD students at uSask. The partnering institutions have committed to recruit and recommend scholars approved by the Chinese Scholarship Council, and uSask will provide up to 20 tuition scholarships and an additional $4,000 in top-up scholarships to selected students. The agreements provide the framework for the foundation of the U of S--China Doctoral Scholarship Partnership program, designed to recruit top PhD students from selected Chinese universities who are eligible for graduate scholarship support from the China Scholarship Council. uSask News Release | Saskatoon Star-Phoenix

Canada-India academic partnerships, exchanges poised to grow

India's large, young population and growing middle class are creating opportunities for Canadian universities seeking to increase enrolment. Much of the interest is driven by the fact that India is a diverse democracy where English is widely spoken. Despite growing interest among Canadian institutions (such as uWaterloo, York, and uAlberta) to seek new links with Indian universities and businesses, Canada does not attract as many Indian students as it might, which some experts blame on a lack of a co-ordinated effort in Canada and active recruiting by other nations. A meeting sponsored by the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute last year suggested Canada should triple to 15,000 the number of undergraduates coming here from India every year. University Affairs

uAlberta to outsource e-mail to Google

The University of Alberta plans to use Google's free e-mail service, a move that would save the university $2 million a year. Privacy is a key concern, as Google, being an American company, is subject to the US Patriot Act, which could allow American officials to monitor faculty e-mails on the suspicion of domestic terrorism. The privacy issue fuelled a grievance filed by Lakehead University's faculty association, who argued Lakehead violated a collective bargaining agreement when it adopted Google's e-mail service in 2006. The grievance was dismissed last June. Edmonton Journal

Lethbridge College sets up wind turbine tower

In order to improve the training opportunities for students in its Wind Turbine Technician program, Lethbridge College installed a 22-metre wind turbine tower at the south end of its campus on Tuesday. The tower's design accommodates the various styles and makes of turbine units so students become familiar with the specifics of each brand. Minus the turbine and blades, the tower will allow students to practise ascents and descents, an important element in training and vital for their future safety on the job. Lethbridge College News

UoGuelph launches task force on campus sustainability

The University of Guelph has set up a task force to review, co-ordinate, and make recommendations for campus initiatives promoting sustainability, both at the institution and in the greater local and global communities. With representation from senior administration, students, faculty, and staff, the group will take a comprehensive review of sustainability, focusing on the environment, communities, and the economy. Among the task force's objectives is to help focus and streamline current individual and collective efforts on campus. The group has been asked to present an interim progress report to UoGuelph's president this summer. UoGuelph News

Barnes & Noble launches textbook rental service

Bookseller Barnes & Noble Inc. announced Monday it has created a multi-channel textbook rental program for college students. Students can rent textbooks online or through their campus Barnes & Noble bookstore. The initiative stems from a pilot program the company launched last fall with rental service offered at 3 of its 636 campus bookstores. Since then, the pilot has expanded to 25 campus bookstores. Barnes & Noble is one of several companies either launching or expanding textbook rental services. Barnes & Noble News Release | Inside Higher Ed