Top Ten

February 12, 2010

Alberta budget signals financial woes for provincial institutions

Following the Alberta government's budget announcement last week, post-secondary schools in the province are forecasting layoffs and salary constraints, and suspending plans for campus growth. A 6% reduction in the advanced education ministry's budget results in a 0% increase to base operating grants to institutions. With increased operating costs and less government funding, the University of Lethbridge anticipates a $9-million shortfall in 2010-11, and layoffs at the institution are "inevitable." The University of Calgary is searching for an extra $17.5-million for next year. Medicine Hat College faces a $1.6-million budget decrease, which the school expects will slow the pace of growth on campus. Bow Valley College has already trimmed its spending, including eliminating a number of low-enrolment programs in November. At Mount Royal University, plans to increase the student body by 2,000 in the next couple of years have been stalled. MHC News | uLethbridge Notice Board | Calgary Herald | Lethbridge Herald

Fired uOttawa prof claims school spied on him

In November, Denis Rancourt, a tenured University of Ottawa physics professor fired last spring, filed a union grievance accusing the institution of engaging in "covert surveillance" against him. Rancourt claims that as early as September 2007, uOttawa hired a student taking chemistry at the time to investigate him. He alleges the student created Facebook and e-mail accounts under a pseudonym in order to "infiltrate" student activist groups. The former student denies Rancourt's allegations, which not have been proven in court. Rancourt claims uOttawa is violating its collective agreement with the faculty association, stating that the university would be obligated to inform an employee that he or she was being investigated by the school, which he says it did not do in his case. Maclean's OnCampus

York prof criticized over Israeli film festival boycott

Faculty at York University's film department are disassociating themselves from an associate professor of production over his campaign to promote a cultural boycott of Israel. John Greyson is leading a drive to boycott this spring's Tel Aviv University International Student Film Festival, sending letters to 90 film schools soliciting support for his position. The department's chair says "the notion that we should boycott a student film festival is absurd." One York film professor sent a letter to festival organizers stating the department "utterly disassociates itself from John Greyson's stand on the issue," and that Greyson "gave you the misleading impression that he may speak on the behalf of his colleagues." Globe and Mail

$11 million for Collège François-Xavier-Garneau campus infrastructure

The federal and Quebec governments announced last Friday an $11.1-million joint investment from the Knowledge Infrastructure Program to Collège François-Xavier-Garneau, a CÉGEP based in Quebec City. The funds will go towards the construction of a new building to house the institution's nursing program, providing students with a modernized training facility and access to state-of-the-art technology. Quebec News Release (in French)

uLaval opens office in Mexico

Last Thursday, Université Laval launched an office at the Santa Fe campus of Mexico's Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, which will also open an office in Quebec at uLaval. With a long history of collaboration in Latin America, uLaval hopes its new physical presence in Mexico will foster student exchanges and the development of joint academic programs. The university will use the office to network with its 150 alumni residing in Mexico. The office is part of uLaval's internationalization strategy. By 2012, the university aims to increase the number of its international students by 15%. uLaval News Release (in French)

McGill home to new Quebec Centre for Biodiversity Science

Yesterday McGill University launched the Quebec Centre for Biodiversity Science, which brings together over 60 researchers from 8 provincial universities. To foster collaboration between biodiversity scientists in the province, the Fonds québécois de la recherche sur la nature et les technologies supported the creation of the centre, currently hosted by McGill's biology department. The United Nations declared 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity. McGill Newsroom

uWindsor to change law-degree designation to JD

At a meeting last week, the University of Windsor's senate approved the change in the name of the school's law degree from LLB to JD -- Juris Doctor. The move was spearheaded by uWindsor students, who voted overwhelmingly in favour of the JD designation in a referendum held last spring. The JD designation will take effect for the incoming cohort, the graduating class of 2013. Current students and alumni who graduated earlier will have the option to change their degree title. A number of law schools in Canada have either completed or are reviewing the adoption of the JD designation. uWindsor Daily News

Centennial first campus in Canada to offer Islamic finance course

Centennial College is the first school in Canada certified to teach the growing field of Islamic finance, a system that does not charge interest or invest in commodities contravening Islamic law. The online course, to be led by an Islamic scholar with financial expertise, will be available to the public this September, and Centennial has already filled a spring class with staff from a major bank. In addition to serving the finance industry, the course will be offered to students in Centennial's accounting and financial services programs. The course will be available through Ontario Learns, the province's central hub for all online college instruction. Globe and Mail | Toronto Star

MUN's Yaffle celebrates first anniversary

A year ago, Memorial University introduced Yaffle, a search engine designed to provide greater access to the institution's research and expertise. Since then, Yaffle has received close to 50,000 hits from people from 157 nations on 6 continents, and currently averages around 125 hits daily. Users of the site can look up experts, browse research projects conducted by the university, and submit research ideas. As of last week, over 1,140 research projects are profiled in Yaffle. MUN News Release | Yaffle

Embrace of e-books slow-going process

The advent of Apple's iPad is expected to increase interest in digital textbooks, the acceptance of which is slow-going among students. According to the US-based Student Public Interest Research Groups, 75% of students prefer print textbooks over digital. E-texts still offer more limited ability to highlight passages, scribble in notes, or bookmark pages. The advantages of print come at a high cost, making textbook rental services attractive. Meanwhile, new research from the US finds that the sooner students and faculty embrace e-books, the sooner campus libraries can save money with digital collections, but that might not happen for some time, due to siginficant divergence in e-books standards and the preference of holding a book in one's hands. Philadelphia Inquirer | Inside Higher Ed