Top Ten

February 9, 2010

uManitoba considers $30-million cuts to support services

The University of Manitoba hopes to save $30 million a year by trimming non-teaching expenses, according to a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers. The report found the institution could reduce costs by centralizing supply purchases, co-ordinating services across the university, and reducing the excessive sick days logged in 2 departments. While specific cuts have yet to be decided, if reductions are not made in support services, they will have to come out of academic budgets, says uManitoba's vice-president of administration, who'd rather not cut teaching or research budgets in order not to significantly affect students and faculty. University administration will make its decisions on the cuts some time next month. Winnipeg Free Press | CBC

uSask med school dean refutes story on secret pelvic exams

Medical students in Saskatchewan do not perform pelvic exams on unconscious patients without consent, contrary to a recent Globe and Mail article suggesting such a practice is "routine" across Canada, says the University of Saskatchewan's associate dean of medical education. The associate dean says all patients are asked to provide consent for any kind of participation by medical students in a procedure. The Association of Professors of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of Canada also refutes claims made in the Globe article, stating that describing students performing pelvic exams without a patient's consent is "simply false." Saskatoon Star-Phoenix | Response from APOG | Globe and Mail

McGill senate to debate revised military-funded research policy

McGill University's senate will be asked today to approve revised research ethics guidelines that remove a 22-year-old clause requiring researchers accepting funds from military sources to indicate whether the research would have "direct harmful consequences." The move is meant to bring McGill in line with other research-intensive institutions in Canada and the US, most of which do not have criteria specifically targeting money from military sources. The proposed policy calls upon researchers "to balance the potential benefits against the possibility of harmful applications." Opponents of the revised policy say no progress has been made on the key issue of "harmful" research, whether funding comes from military sources, Big Pharma, or multinational corporations. Montreal Gazette | Demilitarize McGill blog

UOIT moves ahead with downtown campus expansion

The University of Ontario Institute of Technology has signed a 30-year lease for use of the Alger Press Building in downtown Oshawa, to be renovated for use by the school's faculty of criminology, justice, and policy studies by September. With UOIT having already committed to leasing academic and office space in a facility being constructed nearby, the 2 suites ensure the institution will be able to provide all the space and resources for the faculty, which is at over 1,000 students and quickly growing. UOIT News Release

Student focus, big-bucks marketing help American for-profit PSE blossom

Over the past 30 years, enrolment at for-profit universities in the US has grown by 9% per year, compared to 1.5% annually for all institutions. For-profit schools now educate about 10% of the country's 19 million students who enrol in degree-granting institutions year round. One key reason for-profit institutions have been so successful is that they offer courses at times convenient to their students. The enrolment process is often much quicker at for-profit schools, and once students are registered, these institutions work hard to hang onto them through graduation. For-profit schools also spend a lot of money to recruit students. Apollo Group, the parent company of the University of Phoenix, the second largest higher-education system in the US, spent $275 million on "selling and promotional" expenses in the 3-month period ending November 30, 2009. The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)

Ottawa transfers $126 million to Quebec student-loan program

The federal government has transferred over $125.8 million to Quebec in support of its student financial assistance programs for the 2008-09 academic year. In 1964, Quebec chose not to participate in the Canada Student Loans Program, and instead receives annual alternative payments from Ottawa. Next January, Quebec will receive approximately $115 million as part of its alternative payment for the 2009-10 school year to compensate for the new Canada Student Grants Program. Concordia University's student union, which has criticized the federal government for withholding the Quebec portion of the grants, demands the province invest the full amount of the transfer in student financial assistance without any delays. HRSDC News Release | Concordia Student Union News Release

NSERC distributes $54 million in strategic project grants

On Monday, the federal government announced a $53.5-million investment over 3 years to support 122 research projects at universities across the country. The funds come from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council's Strategic Project Grants Program. Target areas for funding under the program include environmental science and technologies, natural resources and energy, information and communications technologies, and health. NSERC News Release

NOSM has substantial economic, social impact on local region, report finds

According to a new study assessing the socio-economic impact of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, total direct spending by the institution and its undergraduate medical students is pegged at $37 million annually, and the recirculation of these funds generates between $67 million and $82 million in economic activity. NOSM funds more than 230 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions, and supports between 420 and 510 FTE positions in northern Ontario through various economic effects. Those interviewed for the study say the school has had a positive impact on the host universities -- Laurentian and Lakehead -- and affiliated health-care institutions. Interviewees anticipate that NOSM graduates will relieve the chronic shortage of physicians across northern Ontario, and that francophone and Aboriginal medical learners will help alleviate the shortage of doctors serving these two population groups. NOSM News Release | Read the report

Crandall U launches new website

We've recently noticed that Crandall University, formerly Atlantic Baptist University, has a new-look site. A rotating graphic banner on the homepage highlights Crandall U's small class sizes, welcoming atmosphere, off-site study options, athletics department, and $24-million expansion project. The website features a video discussing the university's growth and rebranding process. Crandall U website | Watch the video

College-roommate matching service criticized for Facebook marketing tactics

Some US college admissions officials are denouncing the marketing strategy of URoomSurf, a roommate matching start-up reaching students directly through Facebook, creating groups with "Class of 2014 -- Looking for Roommates!" in the title. Some of the groups' members might not be aware the schools themselves did not create the groups. While URoomSurf's founders argue they are using Facebook to promote their website, college officials say the company's marketing strategy is inappropriate in that the groups are likely to confuse incoming students and create unrealistic expectations about schools' ability to match students with those they found using URoomSurf. There are also reports of the company posting ads on walls and discussion forums of colleges' official Facebook groups, even after requests not to do so. In the past year, disingenuous "Class of..." Facebook groups have popped up in the US and Canada. Inside Higher Ed | URoomSurf