Top Ten

July 16, 2010

Group of MUN pensioners file class-action suit against university

Pre-1993 pensioners have filed a class-action suit against Memorial University, claiming their former employer should be paying 100% of their group insurance premiums. The pensioners claim the university reneged on a promise to pay the full cost of their premiums for the rest of their lives. MUN maintains it had a right to reduce its contribution towards the cost of the premiums, a change necessitated after trust fund monies that had been used to fund premium payments had been exhausted. MUN states full payment of insurance premiums has never been a negotiated benefit with university employees. MUN has appealed the court's decision to allow the case to proceed as a class-action suit, citing a lack of "common issues" between the claimants as the primary ground of appeal. MUN News

Kwantlen research on farmlands seen as conflict

A member of a Delta council committee says it was "unprofessional" of Kwantlen Polytechnic University to not disclose that at the same time Kwantlen agriculture specialists were publicly praising a controversial plan to develop the 218-hectare agricultural lands known as Southlands, the institution was also being paid $50,000 to "research" the plan by the real estate development firm that wants to develop the farm lands. Kwantlen's executive director of research says "it is not normal for us to disclose our financial agreements," and that the researchers were "not lobbying," although they emphasized the plan's benefits. If council approves the rezoning of the lands from agricultural to residential, Kwantlen may benefit from an endowment fund and a research centre for urban agriculture on the Southlands site under its deal with the developer. Vancouver Province

NSAC prof claims wrongful dismissal

Fired Nova Scotia Agricultural College assistant professor Alex Martynenko is fighting his termination, which he says was unjust. On May 31, minutes before his 3-year probationary period was to end, Martynenko was informed of his dismissal, which followed the completion of a committee review into an allegation that he falsified data in 2 publications relating to the drying of ginseng and apples. Martynenko admits to using the same introduction, albeit with different information, and mistakenly adding a chart from a paper on ginseng in a submission dealing with apple drying. Martynenko has written letters to government officials trying to have the decision reviewed and overturned. He has met with Nova Scotia's deputy minister of agriculture, who signed the termination letter, and is expecting the deputy minister's decision by Tuesday. Truro Daily News

UBC breaks ground for Pharmaceutical Sciences Building

The University of British Columbia held a groundbreaking ceremony Friday for its $133.3-million Pharmaceutical Sciences Building, a project in which the BC government is investing $86.4 million. The facility, to open in 2012, will allow UBC's professional pharmacy degree program to expand 47% in enrolment, and will provide space for 896 undergraduates, an increase of 288 students, by 2014. BC News Release | Backgrounder

Ontario Universities Council on Quality Assurance launched

The Council of Ontario Universities announced Friday the creation of the Ontario Universities Council on Quality Assurance, a new arm's-length body tasked with ensuring rigorous quality assurance of university undergraduate and graduate programs. The council's first item of business will be to review and approve quality assurance processes at each Ontario university. The council will then be responsible for the review and approval of all new undergraduate and graduate programs, and for auditing each university on an 8-year cycle. COU News Release

Declining enrolment "troublesome predicament" for NB universities

Statistics Canada figures show university enrolment in New Brunswick in 2008-09 dropped 2.8% from the year before, the third consecutive year of decline -- a trend the head of recruitment at Mount Allison University calls a "troublesome predicament" for institutions in NB and across Atlantic Canada. The province's PSE minister says the government's tax credits, rebates, and tuition freeze have made NB a more attractive place for students to study, but the shortage of young people is the biggest obstacle facing provincial universities. Université de Moncton's director of communications says the region's demographic reality means institutions need to temper their expectations. "I think everybody would love to grow, but the logical thing is to work on maintaining enrolment in order to make sure that we keep a certain level of services." Times & Transcript

TRU first Canadian partner of low-cost online course provider

Thompson Rivers University's Open Learning Division is the first Canadian partner university of StraighterLine, a US-based provider of low-cost entry-level college courses online. With StraighterLine, students pay $39 US for each course, plus $99 US per month for the duration. Through the partnership with TRU, students who successfully complete StraighterLine courses can transfer the courses for full credit when they enrol in the university's Open Learning Division. Students can then use these transfer credits towards the completion of their degrees through Open Learning. StraighterLine News Release | Times Higher Education

CBU nursing program receives national accreditation

The Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing has approved accreditation for Cape Breton University's Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. This was the university's first accreditation review as an independent nursing program. CBU's associate dean of nursing says the program was also granted approval from the College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia, which is required to keep the program in operation, but the accreditation speaks further to the excellence and value of the nursing program at the university. CBU News Release

Niagara College self-promotes through student-produced commercials

Niagara College is promoting itself throughout Ontario and beyond using the work of its film students, who produced 4 commercials to air on network television. The ads are part of a learning component incorporated into the college's broadcasting program in 2008, when the school's marketing and communications department collaborated with the program to add the development and production of a Niagara College TV commercial to the curriculum for third-year film students. The 4 commercials will air in rotation over the next several months on CHCH TV, and can be viewed online. Niagara College News Release | Watch the videos

UPEI names winners of "Win with UPEI" contest

The University of Prince Edward Island has announced the winners of its "Win with UPEI" contest, which handed out $10,000 -- originally slated to purchase advertising -- in bursaries and other prizes. The contest website asked visitors to vote on their favourite student project, which earned the education faculty the largest proportion of bursary dollars for the highest number of votes. The contest also invited UPEI community members to submit a story, photo, or video online for a chance to earn prizes. A student from China won $1,000 for "Best Entry" for her story about her first moments on campus. One UPEI employee won $1,000 for the "Most Referred Entry," while another employee's entry was selected in th e $500 random draw. Other random draws took place for a stuffed toy version of Pride, the university's Panther mascot. UPEI News Release | Win with UPEI