Top Ten

July 13, 2010

Quebec commits $14 million to climate research

The Quebec government announced Monday $14.4 million in new climate-research funding. Of that amount, $12 million will be directed to Ouranos, a consortium of 250 scientists and professionals, over the next 4 years. The Centre pour l'étude et la simulation du climat à l'échelle régionale at the Université du Québec à Montréal will receive $1.5 million over a 3-year period, saving it from closure because its federal funding was running out. The centre had been getting about $940,000 a year from Ottawa through the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, which hasn't received any new funding since 2003 and is currently making final payments for research projects. The remaining $900,000 from Quebec's investment will support projects by researchers with expertise in the field of climate science. Quebec News Release (in French) | UQAM News Release (in French) | Montreal Gazette

uToronto plans to close Centre for Comparative Literature

The University of Toronto's Centre of Comparative Literature is slated to become part of a new School of Languages and Literatures along with 5 other departments as part of proposed changes being unveiled by the arts and science faculty, which is conducting a strategic review aimed at trimming a growing debt of $55 million. Under the proposal, uToronto will no longer grant graduate degrees in comparative literature, and faculty will no longer be appointed to the discipline. The arts and science dean says the closing of the centre is an acknowledgment of how widely scholarship in this field has progressed in the past 40 years. "In our judgment (the centre) is no longer necessary." The centre's current graduate students, who are campaigning to save the centre, say the proposal was made without consultation or a full understanding of their discipline. Globe and Mail

Polytechnics should be included in digital economy enhancement

In its submission to the Digital Economy Consultation, Polytechnics Canada outlines key concerns with the federal government's consultation paper, "Improving Canada's Digital Advantage," in that it overlooks, even undervalues, the contribution provided by polytechnics, institutes of technology, and colleges to Canada's innovation. The organization recommends that Ottawa develop a national information, communications, and technology (ICT) skills strategy that is inclusive and involves all levels of government, industry, colleges, universities, sector councils, trade associations, and secondary schools. In seeking more ICT graduates, the submission states, industry and government should include and recognize graduates of Canadian college and polytechnic ICT programs when recruiting. Read the submission

More francophone students opting for English CÉGEPs, says mathematician

More and more francophone students in Quebec are registering at English CÉGEPs, a situation one mathematician deems worrisome for the persistence of the French language among francophones who attend English colleges. The Journal de Montréal asked retired University of Ottawa professor Charles Castonguay to analyze provincial statistics on CÉGEP enrolment relating to students' mother tongue. Castonguay concluded that between 2005 and 2007, the most recent year for which statistics were available, the network of anglophone CÉGEPs made a gain of 564 at the expense of the francophone colleges, while the latter gained 80 anglophones at the expense of English colleges in the same time period. The education ministry does not consider there to be serious growth among francophone students opting for English CÉGEPs, basing its data on percentages rather than on absolute enrolment numbers. Journal de Montréal (in French)

Research, grad students among key focus areas at uWaterloo

A University of Waterloo executive council report outlines several themes that are still extremely important to the institution's goals and aspirations articulated in the Sixth Decade Plan, including increased emphasis on research, higher proportion of graduate students, and a commitment to a positive student experience. Based on these themes, emphasis will focus on specific areas, such as positioning uWaterloo as an intellectual and technological hub for Ontario, expanding the university's international focus, expanding and enhancing the university's research capacity and support of graduate students to help position/reconfirm uWaterloo as a major research institution, and ensuring that the institution has the infrastructure and support to achieve its intellectual potential. uWaterloo Daily Bulletin

NAIT president to retire

On Monday, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology president Sam Shaw announced his retirement after 13 years at the institution. Shaw is the third post-secondary president in Edmonton to announce his departure within the last year, following NorQuest College's Wayne Shillington in September and Grant MacEwan University's Paul Byrne in April. Shillington has been succeeded by Jodi Abbott, while MacEwan is still searching for a new president. In an internal e-mail, Shaw highlighted accomplishments such as launching bachelor of technology and the bachelor of business administration programs, as well as applied research and commercialization centres such as novaNAIT and the Duncan McNeil Centre for Innovation. Shaw has not yet announced a date for his departure. Edmonton Journal

Health among Ontario teens declining, survey finds

According to the 2009 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey, 14% of Ontario students in Grades 7 to 12 reported poor physical health, a level markedly higher than rates reported in the early 1990s. 25% of students are considered overweight or obese according to body mass index calculations. Elevated psychological distress has been a concern over the last decade, and the rate has remained steady at 30%. This year marks the first time "screen time" was measured as a lifestyle factor. 10% of students reported that, on average, they spend 7 hours a day watching TV or using the computer. 20% of students reported playing video games daily, and 10% have shown possible indicators of video gaming problems, reporting symptoms of preoccupation and disruption to family and school. CAMH News Release | Globe and Mail | Canadian Press

Studying abroad improves students' academic outcomes, study finds

A 10-year study conducted in the US reports that students who study abroad have improved academic performance upon returning to their home campus and have higher graduation rates compared to students in control groups. Researchers found that the 4-year graduation rate was 49.6% for study abroad students, compared to 42.1% in the control group. For students who had studied abroad, their mean cumulative GPA before and after going overseas was 3.24 and 3.30, respectively, compared to an increase from 3.03 to 3.06 for the control group over the same period. The study also observes that studying abroad helps academic performance of at-risk students. Among students who entered college with a combined SAT score of 800, those who studied abroad ended up with a GPA of 3.21, while those who stayed stateside had a GPA of 3.14. Inside Higher Ed

Fox News commentator develops own online university

Fox News commentator Glenn Beck announced last Tuesday his new online academic program called Beck University, whose focus is on "the concept of faith, hope and charity" and "how they influence America's past, her present, and, most importantly, her future." Beck has called in some experts to help teach the classes, with topics on US government, history, and economics. Enrolment in Beck University costs $6.26 US a month for those who sign up for a 12-month subscription to Insider Extreme, which provides access to Beck's exclusive video content. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access) | Glenn Beck website

US teens losing interest in Facebook

According to new US research, close to one in 5 teenagers with a Facebook profile decreased or discontinued their use of the social network as of April 2010. Moreover, the decreases seemed to speed up in recent months, with two-thirds of the lapsed users having turned away from Facebook in the last 6 months. Decreased usage does not appear to be related to privacy issues raised this spring, the study found. Among teens who are no longer on Facebook or use it less, 45% of teens said they lost interest or found the site boring. eMarketer