Top Ten

March 10, 2010

uCalgary risks losing research grants over accounting issues

The University of Calgary has alerted faculty that changes in the handling of tri-council grants must be implemented before the end of the month or the university's eligibility for research funding could be cut off or suspended. The warning was prompted by a recent report issued from NSERC and SSHRC that found a "high number" of problems with expense claims, salaries for researchers, and other aspects of grant accounting at uCalgary. The report -- the second consecutive review reaching an "unsatisfactory" conclusion -- stated that many findings from a 2006 audit were still not addressed. A memo from uCalgary's vice-presidents of finance and research states that suspension or withdrawal of the schools' tri-council funding eligibility would not only impact individual research agendas, but also damage the university's reputation. National Post

FSIN chiefs agree to FNUC restructuring

At their assembly Tuesday, Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations chiefs agreed to a new management structure for the First Nations University of Canada. Under the 4-year "shared management and stewardship model," the University of Regina will control FNUC's finances and some other duties. FNUC will keep its interim board of governors on for another year to help implement the new model. Saskatchewan's advanced education minister says the FSIN's agreement is an "important step forward" in terms of bringing provincial money back to FNUC through a different funding model. Regina Leader-Post

SFU pursues US accreditation

Simon Fraser University is seeking formal accreditation from Washington State-based Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, one of 6 US-sanctioned independent regional agencies that evaluate post-secondary school educational quality and institutional effectiveness. SFU's application was approved in January 2009, and the full accreditation process will take between 5 and 7 years to complete. While the university needs the accreditation to join the NCAA, officials say SFU is also taking advantage of a "huge opportunity". The university's vice-president academic says the accreditation would increase SFU's profile abroad and help attract the best international students. SFU News Release

$6-million Holland College expansion planned for western PEI

The Prince Edward Island government announced yesterday that the province and Holland College will invest approximately $6 million to expand the college's presence in western PEI. The project will include a new West Prince Regional Training Centre in Alberton, and expanded offerings at delivery sites in Tignish and O'Leary. Scheduled to open in fall 2011, the new facility is part of the province's strategy to build economic capacity in rural PEI. PEI News Release

Applications to Ontario universities rise among secondary students

The Ontario Universities' Application Centre released its March undergraduate application statistics yesterday, showing a 2.6% increase in applications among high school students compared to March 2009 figures. OUAC reports that 87,782 students made 383,018 applications, up from 85,081 applicants and 373,319 applications a year ago. Trent University leads Ontario institutions with a 14.6% increase in secondary-student applications. OUAC March 2010 Stats (by university) | OUAC March 2010 Stats (by program)

CFS-O report finds tuition fees pose barriers for visible minority students

Rising tuition fees and student debt disproportionately affect visible minority students, finds a report released yesterday by the Ontario chapter of the Canadian Federation of Students. The report observes that visible minority students are more likely to come from low-income backgrounds, accumulate more debt, and earn less after graduation, and thus take longer to pay off their loans and pay more for their education through compound interest. A CFS-O representative says Ontario should reduce tuition fees and student debt in order to level the playing field for low-income and racialised students. CFS-O News Release | Read the report

Former uCalgary president to head HEQCO

The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario announced yesterday that former University of Calgary president Dr. Harvey Weingarten has been named the council's new president, effective July 1. A graduate of McGill and Yale Universities, Weingarten has held several positions at McMaster University, including provost and vice-president academic. During his tenure at uCalgary, Weingarten was instrumental in a $1.5-billion capital expansion. HEQCO is an arm's-length agency of the Ontario government dedicated to ensuring the continued improvement of the province's PSE system. HEQCO News Release

Ontario should consider Australian experience in international recruitment

While Ontario's proposal to open its education market is good, large changes in policy can have dramatic impacts on the education sector, and should be made mindfully, writes University of Melbourne professor Peter Cebon in yesterday's Globe and Mail. He recounts the experience in Australia, which saw an explosion in international students when the previous government progressively reduced core funding to universities while allowing them to boost the number of "full-fee paying" spaces, and allowed foreign students who had been resident in Australia for 2 years to apply for permanent residency. This has had several marked effects, observes Cebon, including making universities strongly dependent on international student income. Several institutions are reeling financially as well-publicized attacks on Indian students and a soaring exchange rate produced a dramatic fall in the number of applications from India. Globe and Mail

uSask student union considers microbrewery operation

The University of Saskatchewan's student government is reviewing the feasibility of running a microbrewery on campus, with students producing the beer. The student president says the microbrewery would likely be an extension of the campus pub, and could create more jobs for students. uSask administration is waiting for an official proposal from the student union before signing off on the idea, and would have to study the effect on student life. Saskatoon Star-Phoenix

UBC top Canadian university in Webometrics ranking

The University of British Columbia is the highest-ranking Canadian institution in Cybermetrics Lab's biannual Webometrics Ranking of World Universities, which measures universities' performance and impact through their Web presence. UBC placed 35th overall. The other Canadian universities to make the top 100 are uToronto (36), SFU (61), uAlberta (67), uMontréal (75), McGill (78), and uWaterloo (97). Harvard University has surpassed the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the top spot worldwide. Webometrics Ranking of World Universities