Top Ten

June 10, 2010

Former FNUC employee sentenced for theft of university funds

A Regina Provincial Court judge has handed down a conditional sentence to a former First Nations University of Canada employee who pleaded guilty to stealing over $21,000 during her employment at the institution. In exchange for her guilty plea, the Crown prosecutor agreed to stay a fraud charge against Janet Lee Kurtz, who was charged in late 2008 following a lengthy RCMP investigation into suspicious financial activity at FNUC. In addition to the conditional sentence, which entails 240 hours of community service, the judge also handed down a restitution order that would see Kurtz repay the money she stole from FNUC. Regina Leader-Post

VIU addresses shortfall with work reductions, course section cuts

Vancouver Island University has slashed $4.7 million in order to balance its 2010-11 budget, and in making up the shortfall, the university has raised tuition by 2%, removed credit cards from tuition payment options, and instructed departments to cut an average of 3% out of their budgets. This will result in work reductions equalling fewer than 10 full-time employees, to be spread out across the institution. Department cuts have led to course section reductions, which has the student union's executive director worried that there will be a waiting list "crisis" in September. Nanaimo Daily News

Nipissing stands by honorary degree for Harris

Nipissing University president Lesley Lovett-Doust says former Ontario premier Mike Harris will indeed receive an honorary degree from the university despite opposition from the Ontario Teachers' Federation, which has suggested that some of its members may choose not to place Nipissing students in student-teacher positions in protest of the honour. Harris decries what he calls the "bully tactics" of the federation, telling the Toronto Star that if he were a teacher today, "I would be appalled at what my union is threatening to do with student teachers from Nipissing University." A graduate student interviewed by the National Post says Nipissing should have foreseen the consequences of awarding Harris an honorary degree, and says some students plan to protest at today's convocation. National Post | Toronto Star

UBC-O campus to double in size with farmland purchase

The University of British Columbia-Okanagan will soon double its land area as the university's board of governors has approved the $8.78-million purchase of 256 acres of North Glenmore farmland from the City of Kelowna. The sale of the property is expected to be complete by the end of the month, and will be funded by UBC from its discretionary endowment over the next 30 years. Since the Okanagan campus was established 5 years ago, over $400 million has been invested in new academic and student residence construction on the campus, including the new Engineering-Management building, Health Sciences Centre, and Arts and Sciences II projects currently under construction. UBC News Release

SFU business school shakes up admissions process

Simon Fraser University's school of business is changing its admissions process by taking into account applicants' extracurricular activities in a new pilot project. As of next year, all students will be selected based on "broad-based" admission requirements. "We do have some kids who, it blows my mind that they can pull off the grades and do all of that," says the business faculty's associate dean. "But once we've admitted Superman and Superwoman, let's see who else is doing great things out there." Grades will still count in the admissions process, and while the pilot project allowed some students to get in with an 80% average, most were still above 85%. Vancouver Sun

uWaterloo co-op program profiled in Chronicle

This week's global edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education includes a feature on the University of Waterloo's co-operative program, believed to be the largest in the world. The university began its co-op in the 1950s as a way to help end Canada's shortage of engineers; today, the program includes over 100 academic subjects and involves nearly half of uWaterloo's 30,000 students. Despite some challenges in making the program more international, the executive director of uWaterloo's co-operative education and career services sees internationalization as a key part of the co-op's future, noting that a work term abroad gives students a broader perspective that not only makes them attractive to employers, but also helps them become global citizens. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

Strategic engagement with India a priority for AUCC

Yesterday the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada wrapped up a 2-day workshop on strategic engagement with India, which drew participants from over a third of Canadian universities. AUCC has made strategic engagement with India a priority, as the South Asian nation is expanding its higher education system and is poised to surpass the research capacity of each G8 country within the decade. Workshop participants were unanimous that Canadian universities can help ensure Canada becomes a partner of choice for India, and that they have great value to bring to India's PSE sector. The workshop sets the stage for a mission of 15 university presidents to India later this fall. AUCC News Release

BC extends U-Pass to all provincial public institutions

As promised by BC Premier Gordon Campbell in last year's provincial election, the BC government has adopted a province-wide U-Pass program for students at all public colleges and universities. In Metro Vancouver, students will pay $30 a month for a system-wide U-Pass, compared to $81 they would pay for a monthly pass. Starting this September, U-Pass rates at Langara College and Capilano University will be decreased to $30 per month. Rates for UBC and SFU students will remain the same until September 1, 2011, when they will be eligible to pay the same subsidized rates as other students. BC News Release

Youth employment in Canada holds steady

According to new figures from Statistics Canada, the employment rate among 15- to 24-year-olds fell slightly last month, dropping from 55.4% in April to 55.3% in May. Youth in Saskatchewan and Quebec made the most gains with both provinces seeing a 0.7 percentage point increase in the employment rate in this age group, and Saskatchewan also recorded the highest youth employment rate, which sits at 64%. There were 54,000 more students aged 20 to 24 employed last month, bringing their employment rate up 3.1 percentage points to 59.2% compared to May 2009, when students were especially affected by the labour market downturn. Statistics Canada | Labour Force Survey

Texting preferred communication method among US teens

According to a recent survey of American adults and teens on their favourite communication methods, when asked to choose between e-mail and Facebook, 33% of respondents between the ages of 15 and 17 picked e-mail and 31% chose Facebook. When Facebook went up against text message, 48% of teens said they would rather communicate via SMS, compared to just 12% who chose Facebook. Texting was the communication activity teens were most likely to report having increased over the last 6 months. 39% reported using SMS more often, followed by Facebook (28%), and meeting up with friends and family in person (23%). eMarketer