Top Ten

July 14, 2010

Staff cuts begin at uWindsor

As part of a bid to cut $27.5 million from the University of Windsor's annual budget, 3 non-teaching employees were laid off last week, which has union leaders worried about more layoffs. The 3 eliminated positions, which follow 2 other staff members currently on layoff, came from uWindsor's Centre for Teaching and Learning. The president of CUPE Local 1393 considers the cuts misdirected. "They're restructuring and maintaining inappropriate management levels that they've always had. But what's worse now for the students and the faculty is they're cutting at the front line." A uWindsor spokeswoman says the institution only eliminated jobs as a last resort as it tries to match expenses with revenue through a campus-wide cost-cutting initiative. A laid-off photographer says the real culprit in this situation is the Ontario government. "It's like the present Liberal government is determined to just slowly turn the oxygen off on post-secondary education." Windsor Star

uToronto turns to private sector for $120-million residence

The University of Toronto is proposing a new 30- to 40-storey student residence built next to its downtown campus and funded by a private equity firm, at an estimated cost of $120 million. The project would make uToronto the first university in Canada to build a large tower offsite with private funding. uToronto can only provide housing for about 10% of its 75,000 students, which leaves much-coveted international students hunting for accommodations in a new city, posing a challenge for recruiters. uToronto is among several Canadian universities seeking private investors for public residences to solve campus housing problems. Trent University has considered the idea of a private residence on campus property for years, but has faced stiff opposition. Globe and Mail

Idea for hotel in McMaster Innovation Park revived

The idea of a hotel at McMaster University's research park has resurfaced, as 2 developers are considering the notion of building a hotel beside the Atrium building. Should someone purchase the 1.4-hectare property, the research park's president expects a developer would partner with a national and international chain to build a long-stay hotel that would serve visiting academic, government, and business people working at McMaster Innovation Park. A privately operated hotel has long been part of a plan for the park, but the idea evaporated with the economic downtown. Development at the park, either planned or in progress, includes the CANMET Materials Technology Lab, a $40-million primary care centre, and a $15-million warehouse retrofit for an automotive research centre. Hamilton Spectator

Social science, humanities at forefront of Canada's digital innovation

In it submission to the Digital Economy Consultation, the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences states that social science and humanities research informs many aspects of the digital economy by exploring the social, economic, legal, political, and cultural issues related to new media and technology. Investing in talent, access, and research is critical to success in the digital society, the federation argues. CFHSS says attracting and retaining women into fields that will have a direct impact on the ICT/digital media sector is of critical importance, given that women comprise over half of the undergraduate and graduate student populations at Canadian universities. The federation also recommends supporting specific, targeted ICT internships, co-op programs, and international learning experiences meant to facilitate the mobilization of knowledge and the mobility of digital skills from university to the workplace. CFHSS News Release | Read the submission

New BC universities push up enrolment, graduation rates

According to new figures from Statistics Canada, just over 1,112,300 students were enrolled in Canadian universities during the 2008-09 academic year, up 3.7% from the year before. The increase was due mainly to the 5 new universities in BC. If there had been no changes in the number of universities surveyed between 2007-08 and 2008-09, enrolment growth would have been 0.7%. University enrolment in BC grew by 33.3% -- the largest annual gain among the provinces -- due to the addition of the 5 new universities. In 2008, 244,380 students received a degree, diploma, or certificate from a Canadian university, up 0.7% from 2007. The increase was entirely due to the new universities in BC. If there had been no changes in the number of universities surveyed between 2007 and 2008, the number of graduates would have decreased by 2.5%. University enrolment | University degrees, diplomas, and certificates awarded

Ontario undergraduate confirmations highest in last decade

New statistics from the Ontario Universities' Application Centre show that as of July 7, 87,096 secondary and non-secondary students have accepted admission offers, the highest figure recorded in the last 10 years. The acceptance rate among high school students grew 3.5% over July 2009, and among non-secondary students the rate increased by 2.4%. An increase in confirmations among high school students was the highest at Laurentian University's Sudbury campus, where the acceptance rate rose 14.7%. Ryerson University follows in second with a 13% increase. An increase in confirmations among non-secondary students was the highest at McMaster University, where the acceptance rate jumped 41.8%. OUAC Undergraduate Confirmation Statistics -- July 2010

Research at Atlantic universities lynchpin of region's growth

In the second volume of its public policy paper series, the Association of Atlantic Universities states that Atlantic Canada's universities and its researchers are prime movers of the region's knowledge economy. The paper notes that Atlantic universities are competing and winning at elite levels of competition, pointing to the Canada Excellence Research Chairs awarded to Dalhousie University and the University of Prince Edward Island. The paper also refers to new centres of ocean-related research at Dal and Memorial University, and pioneering work in medical research at Mount Allison University and UPEI. The AAU says it's time for the private sector to step up and enter partnerships with university researchers that meet industry needs and advance Atlantic Canada's knowledge economy. Read the policy paper

Canadian med schools slow to incorporate health informatics

In a survey of 16 of Canada's 17 medical schools, Dalhousie University researchers discovered that none have included what is formally known as health informatics -- the use of health information tools and techniques to support clinical care and health services administration -- into their core curriculum. While 3 schools reported offering health informatics as an elective course, it was not clear whether any students were actually taking these courses. Researchers also found that other countries were actively integrating health informatics into core curricula. The study points to 2 reasons for the reluctance of Canadian med schools to incorporate health informatics -- the lack of understanding by professors as to what medical informatics is, and the densely-packed med school curriculum. CMAJ News

International homestay students exposed to major health risks, UBC study finds

According to research from the University of British Columbia, foreign homestay students who come to Canada to attend high school without their parents are exposed to major health risks, including smoking, drug use, and early sexual intercourse. The study found that East Asian homestay students are more likely to be smoking and using cocaine when compared to Canadian-born East Asian peers or immigrant teens living with their parents. The research also shows that homestay teen girls are more vulnerable than the other groups to being sexually abused or sexually exploited. Researchers are calling for greater oversight of the homestay industry, which has no requirements for screening or licensing homestay families. UBC News Release

Opposition to census changes mounts

Like the Canadian Association of University Teachers, among other organizations, the CFHSS objects to Ottawa's decision to replace the mandatory long-form census with a shorter voluntary survey, stating the move with undermine the impact of many of the successful research and innovation initiatives launched by the federal government since 2006. "The high quality of the census data is part of our national brand and of the Canadian advantage," CFHSS states in a letter to Industry Minister Tony Clement. "We should not throw it away." Academic groups and others worry that the optional nature of the National Household Survey will reduce the response rate and lead to self-selection bias, skewing the results and lessening their reliability. CFHSS Letter | MRIA Letter | Margin Notes (University Affairs blog) | Statement on 2011 Census