Top Ten

June 15, 2010

National call to action on Aboriginal education

The Assembly of First Nations has launched a national call to action on education, asking philanthropic organizations, higher education institutions and the corporate sector, among others, to support aboriginal education and skills training to ensure First Nations youth are able to reach their full potential. AFN calls for reconciling Aboriginal rights within Education Acts across Canada, creating secure indexed funding for First Nations education, First Nations curriculum and language immersion, and partnerships with the public and private sectors. AFN Call to Action

uWaterloo suspends Warriors football due to steroid scandal

The University of Waterloo announced yesterday its "very measured decision" to suspend its football program for one year, and place coaching staff on paid administrative leave, in the wake of what has been called "the biggest performance-enhancing drug scandal Canadian Interuniversity Sport has ever faced." The decision stems from the arrest of former Warriors receiver Nathan Zettler, who was charged in April for possession and trafficking of anabolic steroids. Team-wide testing of 62 players then revealed 9 'adverse analytical findings' and possible positives. "There's a larger message we need to send with this action," explained UW's athletics director. "Unfortunately," objected a player, "that example ruins some of the lives of... players who did the right thing." Players are unsure whether they can transfer to another university team before fall.  Associated Press  |  Globe and Mail  |  Allan Maki  |  TSN 

Loyalist College creates $7 million budget reserve

After two years of budget deficits approaching $2 million, Loyalist College has come in with a balanced budget, a $7 million reserve fund, and a 20% increase to its endowments. Some of the surplus will be invested in capital improvements, deferred maintenance, and equipment for the new Skills Centre, which opens this fall. A spokesperson for the College credits in part the Second Life virtual world program (which has generated contracts with military and other partners) as a strong revenue source.  Belleville Intelligencer  |  Loyalist media release 

uCalgary sued over Facebook reprimand

University of Calgary students Keith and Steven Pridgen are suing to overturn penalities enforced by the University regarding comments they made about a former UofC professor on Facebook. The identical twin brothers claim that the school violated their constitutional right to freedom of speech when it disciplined them for commenting on the competency of their law professor. In 2008 the brothers, along with other students, posted critical comments to a Facebook group entitled, "I no longer fear hell, I took a course with Aruna Mitra." The university says the comments violated the student code of conduct, and is also holding the brothers responsible for comments posted to the page by other students. CBC News  |  Calgary Herald  Vancouver Sun 

Royal Roads partners with CMA on Physician Leadership

Royal Roads University and the Canadian Medical Association have formed a collaborative partnership designed to enhance the quality of doctors as leaders across Canada. Royal Roads will investigate and develop effective blended learning models to enhance CMA's current suite of leadership programs, available to any CMA member. The CMA will establish a credential process allowing physicians to ladder into a graduate certificate or degree program at Royal Roads. CMA and Royal Roads are jointly exploring graduate-level programming in physician leadership.  Royal Roads News 

Harris receives honorary degree despite threatened OTF blacklist

Despite opposition from the Ontario Teachers' Federation and Aboriginal leaders, former Ontario premier Mike Harris received his honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Nipissing University last Saturday, with little visible protest. About 25 students and staff were gathered in silent protest. The real controversy, however, surrounded the OTF's threatened boycott of Nipissing student teachers, leading valedictorian Wallace Gillard to comment that "it's shocking that the OTF would make such a huge deal about it. It just seems like they're punishing students for politics." The OSSTF disavows OTF's proposed blacklist, and ETFO declined to clarify its stance.  National Post 

New sports teams at Humber

2 new varsity sports teams will join Humber College's Hawks crew this fall. The college will host its first men's baseball team, which will participate in the Canadian Intercollegiate Baseball Association. Humber is also introducing women's rugby, which has been deemed an "introductory" sport for the first 2 years before it is officially called an OCAA varsity sport. Humber's assistant athletic director says that with the newly added facilities and varsity programs, the college is confident that it will stay in the forefront of athletics in Canada. Humber News

Carleton pilot-tests “revolutionary” text-message parking meters

Carleton University graduate and computer science professor Dwight Deugo has developed an SMS-based technology that eliminates the need for pay-and-display parking. To use the service, users register at, where they are asked to submit their cell phone number, payment and vehicle information. When parking, customers send a text message from their cell phone indicating the parking lot and length of parking time required. They will receive a text-message acknowledgement and electronic receipt, as well as a text message warning when parking time is about to expire. “Imagine never getting a parking ticket again.” Carleton will pilot-test the technology in a single parking lot during July and August, and may be extended to other lots if successful. There is apparently “no equivalent 100% text-messaging parking solution in Canada.”  Carleton News

Confucius Institute comes to Brock

Brock University has been granted a Confucius Institute, one of only 3 in Ontario. The institute will be housed in Brock's new Norman Road International Centre. The Office of Chinese Language International will provide $150,000 US in start-up funds, along with up to $100,000 US in annual project-based funding, to support initiatives offered by the institute. The main goals of Confucius Institutes are to facilitate Chinese instruction to people in different nations, enhance understanding of Chinese language and culture, and strengthen educational and cultural collaboration between China and other countries. Brock News

Study suggests rising tuition has little impact on student schedules

A new study published in the Canadian Journal of Higher Education finds that, statistically, concerns about rising tuition costs and labour force participation are unwarranted. Contrary to previous theories and assumptions, the researchers found that while students work more on an annual basis when tuition increases, the tuition effect was highly seasonal in nature: that is, students worked more hours in the summer, but not during the traditional school terms. The researchers therefore conclude that rising tuition has minimal impact on academic performance.  Macleans  |  Study Abstract  |  Full Study (PDF) 

Centennial College mounts "Kinder, Gentler Summit"

In anticipation of the G20 summit, being held in Toronto June 25-26, Centennial College is hosting a simulation "Shadow Summit" online and on campus on June 24. Teams of students from each school at Centennial will represent countries around the world, and debate ten issues that affect the global economy. Prizes for the best ideas include netbooks and iPods. The event will be recorded in a "Book of Voices" that will be sent to the G20 leaders, and Shadow Summit blogs are already active. HumanRacebook 

For-profit US colleges to see continued enrolment growth by Adult learners

According to a new study released by the consulting company Eduventures, for-profit colleges will enroll 42% of the adult undergraduate market by 2019, nearly doubling their current market share. Over the next 10 years, the study estimates that for-profit colleges will educate 60,000 more adult students than public institutions, and 800,000 more than private institutions. The authors predict that online education (an area in which for-profit colleges dominate) will continue to gain respectability, and will become the norm for adult learners.  The Chronicle of Higher Ed 

HEQCO report on PSE students with autism

A new report released by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario finds that approximately 1,100 students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are expected to seek entry into college or university between 2009 and 2011. In order for these students to make a successful transition from secondary to postsecondary education, the report recommends hiring more specialists and staff trained to meet the needs of students with ASD, making adjustments to the learning environment to make it more accommodating to students with ASD, and providing training for staff in ASD-specific learning strategies. Ontario PSE institutions report that 400 students with ASD are currently enrolled.  HEQCO News Release  |  Full Report

US also facing labour market / skills mismatch

Much like Rick Miner’s recent report on the imminent labour market crisis in Canada (Jobs without People, People without Jobs), a new report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce suggests a similar mismatch in the US, between labour market skills demand and educational attainment of potential workers. According to the report, by 2018 the US economy will have jobs for 22 million new workers with PSE -- however, based on current projections, there will be a shortage of 3 million workers with a degree, and 4.7 million with a certificate. The lead author suggests that colleges need to become more career-oriented, and to overhaul their curricula to more closely align with the requirements of specific jobs.  Inside Higher Ed 

Millennial masochism?

According to recent reports in online and traditional media, 3 new trends are sweeping across the teen population: "vodka eyeballing", "sack tapping" and "little girl parties." Vodka eyeballing is prying one's eyelids apart and pouring vodka into one's eyeballs, to achieve rapid intoxication. Sack tapping apparently involves catching a male friend or enemy unawares with a quick punch or slap to the testicles. (Apparently a Minnesota teen required amputation of a testicle after the game went awry.)  Little girl parties are both the most disturbing and the least substantiated of the 3 trends; apparently sexual predators in Canada invite middle-school girls to parties, get them drunk and deflower them. The Slate's columnist dismisses all 3 so-called trends as urban legends.  The Slate  

“Tide of fraud” among Chinese applicants to US colleges

A consultant warns that “cheating is really pervasive in China,” and that Chinese students seeking undergraduate studies abroad often falsify their applications. Based on an informal survey of 250 Chinese high-school students, and conversation with parents and college-recruiting agents, Tom Melcher estimates that 90% of Chinese applicants falsify their recommendations, 70% get others to write their personal statements, 50% forge their high-school transcripts, 30% lie on financial-aid forms, and 10% list awards they did not receive. Some have blamed unscrupulous agents for the fraud, but Melcher blames parents: "Chinese parents make American helicopter parents look laid back." The report recommends hiring “covert” admissions officers in China to screen applications, and conducting interviews of applicants in their native language.  The Chronicle of Higher Ed 

Facebook 'like' button increases blog traffic by 50%

According to TypePad, users who have installed the new Facebook 'like' button on their blog have experienced a 50% increase in referral traffic collectively, and have seen a 200% growth in referral traffic from Facebook in particular.  Introduced in late April, the 'like' button allows readers to share a story with their Facebook friends without ever leaving the publisher's website. Approximately, 1,500 TypePad bloggers have installed the 'like' button on their blog.  Mashable  |  BizReport 

The ROI of student recruitment music videos

In the wake of High School Musical, American Idol, and Glee, music videos have come to student recruitment at the likes of Yale and the University of Delaware. (Check out these and hundreds of other PSE commercials on my YouTube channel.)  If you've been wondering about the ROI of such music videos, Karine Joly provides some insight into the behind-the-scenes excitement at Delaware, the decision to close comments to block "trolls," the 41,000-odd views, and the record high campus visit numbers this year.  Since all the labour was donated, and the cost of production essentially zero, Avi Amon concludes that the video "was absolutely worth our time and money."  CollegeWebEditor blog  |  The Making of Delaware: The Musical  |  Academica Group's YouTube Channel 

Every Facebook fan is worth $136

Syncapse, a social media marketing firm, surveyed a panel of 4,000 North American consumers this month about their interactions with the top 20 brands on Facebook (including Nokia, Axe, Playstation and Red Bull). On average, those who had “liked” a brand’s official page were 28% more likely to continue using the brand, 41% more likely to recommend it to a friend, and spent $71.84 more on the brand annually. Adding together spending, loyalty, recommendations and earned media value, Syncapse calculates the average Facebook fan has a value of $136.38 – although they range from $270.77 down to $0. (Syncapse deducts 47 cents as the average cost to acquire a Facebook fan.) It should be noted that these fans would still have value without Facebook at all.  BizReport  |  Syncapse Report (PDF)